When a biscuit is shared

There seems to be a tension in our world at this moment where cautious optimism is losing its lustre. Dinner parties are dishing up depression and menus offer up a range of mass negativity. Smorgasbords of selfishness and buffets of buffoonery abound. There is more talk around packing for Portugal and emigrating to Euros than there is around a sensational Springbok victory over New Zealand at Ellis Park last weekend. And there is good reason for this. One read through of the Sunday Times newspaper should give the average person enough incentive to buy a coffin before there is no more wood left to make them, give everything to your children, because that’s really why we want to have the escape plan in place anyway – for the children, and move in to a permanent piece of real estate six feet under.

There are a few people for whom this would be a great option. It would save all the hassle of life in between now and the ever after, and at the very least they could contribute by being the very organic food which new vegetable gardens could thrive on. Though the bitterness of their human sentiment may even be too much for the broccoli to bear.

I’m being more than a little unfair. It is what happens when we live too long in a negative place. We become the very negativity we hate hearing about. When all we ever see and hear is RED behaviour, we become RED ourselves and it becomes more difficult to make BLUE choices. More difficult, but not impossible.

There is an aggressive race as to what exactly is causing a downward spiral. Ebola continues to spread exponentially, and if ever there was evidence of us living in a connected world, this virus is making us aware of that. The rise of the Islamic State and its ruthless barbarism is the human equivalent of that unwanted illness. From Nkandla to nuclear agreements, Ukraine to U-boats, Sascoc to Shrien Dewani, there is a shadecloth of secrecy, a glut of greed and a clandestine conspiracy of corruption. Even the change rooms of the English Cricket Board, the supposed stronghold of statesmanship and domain of dignified decency has descended into a dangerous den.  There is much to be RED about, which is why seeing another angle feels akin to observing the flowering of a desert plant.

We were enjoying an early breakfast meeting at the Mugg and Bean in Woodmead, and were delighted to be sitting safely and on time with a generous cappuccino. The traffic into town would give thousands of motorists another reason to apply for foreign passports due to an overturned vehicle on the Highway just off Grayston Drive. On leaving we gathered up the delicious but completely Anti Tim Noakes biscuits from the saucers of our completed coffees, and gave them along with a cash tip to Patrick the smiling car guard. His smile alone was worth a photograph, but it was nothing compared to our smiles when he promptly walked over and gave the second biscuit to his colleague. It had an immediate positive effect, and forthwith a second tip was handed over to the colleague to emphasise that such gracious sharing should be handsomely rewarded.

This RED world of ours is crying out for Leadership, and we are anxious in its absence. Yet there it was right in front of us for all who cared to see it. It will not make the Sunday headlines, and it will not change policies around Energy or Education, but if Leadership is about giving, then we saw it starkly even in the form of a simple shared snack.

What can our Leaders give us to allay our angst, filter our fears and prevent us from packing for Portugal?

Just a little more.

A little more openness and honesty, accountability and action, care and concern, and at the very least a feeling of hope that if we as the taxpayers give you two biscuits, you will at least give one of them to a worthy cause and not hoard them both with a tenderised clause to claim a third, as yet unmade, biscuit.

Like Patrick the generous car guard, I too may not be able to impact on the loudest or most silent of political personas, with all their masks and mouthpieces, but I know that I could be more giving. Especially of the things that really count. Love and the ability to listen, Time and truth and trust and Energy with all my enthusiasm.

Leadership only demands of us that which we are capable to give. Those are simple things, and if I can’t give them, then I’m not leading.

Never again will I leave a biscuit on my saucer.

It can be that simple sometimes.

 

STEVE HALL