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Covid-19 and now 'junk': Victorious in hard times

Apr 4, 2020


COVID-19 and now ‘Junk’

by Gerhard Papenfus

What we are experiencing now, we have never experienced before. However, most of us have had other, deeper, darker experiences, and overcame them, perhaps with scars, but victorious nonetheless.

What makes Covid-19 unique, is the fact that we are all in this together, although our experiences in all of this might differ. The majority of those reading this, do so with a roof over their heads, with an abundance of food in the house, but with a deep concern as to how this global pandemic will affect their ability to retain their standard of living.

As I am writing this, it is pouring outside. I just love rain. It lifts my spirit. But then I think of those whom the rain brings added misery; those who have no place to stay and perhaps no food. Covid-19 is the least of their worries. This just illustrates how people from different walks of life experience life, as it happens, differently.

As we thrive with the speed of success, we become entirely ignorant of the circumstances and needs, often desperation, of others. However, the slow uncertain movement of the Coronavirus confronts us all with a wide range of very uncertain realities. And that is a good thing.

Before the arrival of Covid-19, the South African economy had experienced over a decade of decline. That was the result of poor policies and resulted in us being downgraded to ‘junk’, right in the middle of the global Covid-19 crisis. Can it get any worse, we ask. We all know it actually can. Covid-19 has the potential to cause severe economic hardship and, alongside it, unprecedented social instability.

Before we blame each other for our respective pasts, and the contribution it made towards our current predicament, let us remember that history did not commence in 2007, or in 1994, 1990, 1948, 1913, or even 1652. History is more complicated than that. We, all of us, must guard against ever oversimplifying our past. The difficulty in trying to unravel the complexity of the past, and how it shapes the future, can be illustrated by asking the following famous anecdote: “Was the French Revolution a good or a bad thing” and the response, “It is too soon to tell”. The history of nations has a myriad of interpretations. It is not for us to know, now, what the future holds or which possibilities this current crisis may unlock.

Focusing on what is behind us, and not what is ahead of us, is one of the causes of the socio-economic predicament South Africa finds itself in today. Looking ahead is just more simple, sensible, creative and productive. If Covid-19 can encourage South Africans to start embracing this new narrative, even through more hardship, it will amount to a victory. That is all good and well, you may say, but in the meantime, how will we make it through this immediate crisis? This is a question asked by government in general, perhaps the President and the Minister of Finance in particular, but without doubt, every business and all the workers in South Africa.

One piece of advice is to never think that your crisis is unsolvable, because it is not. At some point you may think: “This is the end of the road”, but it certainly is not. There is always a solution – a way out – but it is often missed because we look in the wrong direction. It is when I do not know what to do, that I, wondering where my deliverance will come from, lift up my eyes, knowing that my help comes from the Lord. (Ps 121:1).







We are all in this together.
Privileged and challenged to be South African.


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