The definition of terrorism as found in the Oxford English dictionary states that it is the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

The definition for intimidation accordingly, is (to) frighten or overawe (someone), especially in order to make them do what one wants.

Now that we have concluded the English lesson for the day, allow me to tell my story; from these definitions, it is safe to deduce that the purpose of terrorism is to force people to do things they would normally not do if the fear factor was absent.

I regularly receive messages from acquaintances and colleagues (not friends – I pick mine wisely or unfriend them quickly) via social media, warning of yet another imminent catastrophe. The latest is a warning of a petrol strike and advice to fill up our cars.  This is being kept secret as to ensure that the whole of South Africa is caught unaware, just as with the recent metered taxi strike.  Not much of a secret now that it has been sent all over the internet now is it?

This same warning has done the rounds ever so often in the past year.  The result is that a lot of people will rush to have their vehicles filled to the brim, causing some filling stations to run out of fuel, creating gridlocks and in some cases probably panic, depending on the individual’s frame of mind and the disruption of dropping everything to rush to the nearest filling station.

This is but one example, my favourite one being the meteor on a collision course with earth some months ago – I loved the panic of some people who thought I was mad when I said if and when it hits, we will not know anything about it.  Imagine the fun one could have knowing that you will cease to exist within a known period of time as there will not be any consequences to your actions!

Apologies dear reader, I am transgressing again as usual. I can only wonder why people, when hearing such a factually unfounded statement do not stop for a minute to question or alternatively verify the claims made in respect of an imminent calamity.  I have to shake my head in absolute disbelief when I dare ask the question: where did you hear this?

The standard answer is usually something to the effect that “someone who knows someone whose neighbour’s son’s friend’s dad who works for such and such overheard his boss …..” you get my drift. But it is gospel, I know this guy. Even if it does make sense to you, why not use that wonderful tool called the internet to verify the claim? Surely if you have time to open and read the story about the doom that is about to be unleashed, you have the time and the means to check before unleashing the bad news to all and sundry.

Alas, maybe I am expecting too much of people who can read and type.

Up and at them Don Quixote!

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Johan van Zyl

I was born on 6 June 1961, six days into the new Republic of South Africa and the 17th anniversary of D-Day. For the moment I am employed in the private Sector as a Logistics professional, residing in Johannesburg – where I was born and bred. Apparently there are only two types of people in the world: those who make things happen and those who wonder what the hell just happened. I am an aspiring novelist – aren’t we all – and love to wonder about the simplicity as well as complicity that make us human, although I sometimes wonder if we have really evolved from being single cell organisms. I love life as well as a handful of people. Next to being outdoors, reading and writing are high on my priority list. I love company, even my own – sometimes.