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Are you a builder or a breaker?

August 24, 2015

“If not you then who? If not now then when?”

– an adapted quote of Hillel the Elder (110 BCE – 10 CE)

By Mike Abel

South Africa has its fair share of moaners. The pre-apartheid moaners, the apartheid moaners and the post-apartheid moaners. Truth be told, we have a lot to complain about. But moaning achieves absolutely nothing. Action does.

1994 brought with it untold optimism, rebirth and fresh opportunity. We, the people of South Africa, spanning all races, religions, genders and sexual orientations, voted out a disgraceful and vile system, and voted in the world’s best constitution and arguably the world’s greatest statesman as president: our beloved Madiba. We became the Rainbow Nation. A year later we won the Rugby World Cup – the perfect example of the winning nation we could become.

It was only through action that we voted out apartheid and voted in democracy. It was only through action that Nelson Mandela was released from prison and it was only through action that we won the Rugby World Cup twice since 1994.

We have a classic story in South Africa, no different to any other country throughout the passage time – that of the builders and the breakers. The builders create and the breakers destroy.

So which will you be?

You have a choice. Right here. Right now. Are you going to continue to be a winger, a blamer, a victim and an ‘I feel so sorry for myself’-er? Or are you going to push back your chair, get off your arse and do something about fixing this magnificent country for yourself, your kids, your friends, your colleagues, and the people you are yet to meet on this incredible journey called your one unrepeatable life.

It can happen in big ways or small ways, but as the famous British advertising slogan for Tesco’s goes, ‘every little helps’. And it does. Positivity breeds positivity and action breeds action. Ripples create other ripples. They change things. They build momentum, people get behind them, and slowly but surely, things do change. They improve and they create opportunity, which in turn creates even more opportunity.

The point is that you can do something to create those ripples of positivity right here and right now. Decide to become a person of action. Decide not to be weighed down by the negativity the media portrays. Decide not to be passive. Decide to actually do something.

Get angry, but more importantly, get even. Getting even means fixing something, creating something, building something – and firing those who cannot do the job that we hired them to do.

Take our current government for example. Look at the rampant corruption, shrinking economy, pathetic decline of infrastructure and service delivery and their failure to build our economy and create jobs. My view is they should be fired. It’s enough. They have traded for too long on the reputations and integrous actions of Madiba, Oliver Tambo, Albert Lithuli, Govan Mbeki and our other real heroes. Vote them out and hire the right people.

You can also help our country in other ways. Deliver food to the needy, start businesses, create subsistence farms or build a local Kibbutz in your region. Run a Street Store and clothe the homeless. Hire slightly more people than you should. Take in interns. Support the right charities. If you’re retired but still healthy, get back to work instead of waiting to die. Share your valuable experience, your wealth of knowledge and use your time and money to better our country and its people. It will simultaneously better your life too. Immeasurably.

It’s far more difficult to sit and read the paper whilst bemoaning your fate and that of our country, than it is to get up and do something. Action gets the heart pumping, it makes ideas flow, it builds energy and it gives this one life that you have a real purpose.

If every reader of this piece decides to become a builder right now, and chooses to do something more than they are already doing, we will have the chance to become the greatest nation in the world.

We can become the Rainbow Nation Madiba dreamed of. It’s your choice.

And we may even win the Rugby World Cup a third time. Such is our power.

Mike Abel is Chief Executive Partner of M&C Saatchi Abel.


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