Home Opinion and Features It seems the biscuits had gone off

It seems the biscuits had gone off

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GREY MUTTER: In a society where trust has been fractured by broken promises and unfulfilled dreams, it’s understandable why many people greet lofty campaign promises with a cynical eye. We’ve been burned before, and it’s hard to shake off that scepticism, writes Lance Fredericks.

File picture: Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

AT ONE time during the formative years of my life, I seriously believed that I could be a chiropractor; and if not a chiro, then at least a physiotherapist.

You see, back then quite a number of adults would approach me so that I could relieve them of their maladies.

Ah yes, I cannot calculate how many times, just by tugging on their fingers, I brought relief to these poor, suffering souls; one tug on the finger would bring such relief that they would even emit trouser toots!

Their relief was obvious, if one should judge it by the roars of grateful laughter that they and their obviously sympathetic friends erupted into after my regular treatments.

Just think of that, I could have been an osteopathic manipulation physician … boy, that would have looked good on my résumé!

My dreams of being an osteopathic manipulation physician were crushed over a relatively short period of time when a few of these same grown ups would, firstly, praise me for my keen sense of smell, saying that I had the olfactory abilities of a bloodhound, before asking, “Can anyone else here in the room smell the biscuits they’re baking next door?”

Then they’d look at me and say, “Oh, here’s Lance. He can smell things a mile off! Can you smell the biscuits my boy?”

I would assume the posture, head cocked back and shoulders retracted, I would pull as much of what should have been biscuit-scented air into my lungs.

I was expecting a warm, delicious aroma with hints of vanilla, sugar, or even chocolate and caramel to come wafting to me … But to my disappointment, I thought the biscuits were off, because all I smelled was pulled-finger trouser toot gas!

Eventually I learned that when a youngster was asked to pull someone’s finger, with all the adult friends sitting around, watching and grinning, all they wanted to do was have a laugh at the child’s expense.

I can assure you with 100 percent certainty that if someone were to walk up to me today and tell me to pull their finger, I absolutely, definitely, without a doubt will not do it!

And if someone says, “Can you smell the biscuits baking down the street,” I would be more inclined to pinch my nostrils shut than cock my head back and open my chest!

Yep, when you have proven yourself to be deceitful and trust has been shattered, it’s pretty hard to come back from that.

I mean, imagine today if one of those adults were to come to me in real trouble, actually needing someone to pull his finger in a life or death situation – if it ever happened that pulling someone’s finger could save their life, that is – I seriously, seriously doubt that I would save his life.

I can imagine myself grinning as the poor old man slips away towards ‘the light’, desperately holding out his finger to me, as I say to him, “Yeah, right … good one. You’re not going to fool me this time!”

Ja nee … pulling fingers was all in good fun, but it taught me a valuable lesson about trust and deceit.

I just feel that in South Africa, after liberation, we missed a step. Far too many believed that following the end of apartheid things would be better by default and that everyone would be happy, healthy and prosperous.

After all, that’s what we were promised.

But promising prosperity and a better life for all before helping folk to establish a work ethic and set goals seems to have backfired. If you promise prosperity without reminding people of the effort it would take to achieve it, you run the risk of creating an entitled society; a society that expects things to fall into our laps.

And in the next few months as our towns, cities and communities experience clean-ups and road repairs, with promises of reliable water supply, sustained electricity and a better life for everyone as campaigning reaches fever pitch, my fear is that far too many South Africans will have that cynical look on their faces thinking, “Yeah, right … good one. But you’re not going to fool me this time!”

In my opinion, it would be better for some of those who are campaigning to ‘pull finger’ (you know where from) than for them to expect the voters to.

With the upcoming elections looming and politicians preparing to make grand pledges of prosperity and progress, I can’t shake the feeling of scepticism.

It’s not that I doubt the potential for positive change, but rather, increasingly, I doubt the sincerity behind the promises.

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