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KNOWING vs. BELIEVING

A conversation is recounted in the book # Shantaram  in which the character, Khaderbhai, says: “There is no such thing as believing in #G...

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Friday, 18 April 2014

OF SUPER-HEROES AND VILLAINS

South Africa (and much of the rest of the world) has been in the grip of the #OscarPistorius #OscarTrial for the past 7 weeks.  A tragic tale of a super-hero, #Oscar, who shot his beautiful girlfriend, #ReevaSteenkamp when she was behind a toilet door.  Oscar says it was a terrible mistake: he thought it was an intruder behind the door.  (A bit like Hamlet stabbing Pistonius through the curtain?)

Of course, most people in the world refused to believe that Oscar, the poster-boy for the concept of triumph in adversity, could possibly have intended to kill #Reeva.  A narrow-minded villain in the State Prosecutor's office, #GerrieNel, was unfairly not only accusing him of murder, but in fact of premeditated murder.

Along comes #BarryRoux, Oscar's advocate, galloping to the rescue of poor Oscar (the latter now downgraded in the world's eyes to unlucky hero).  Barry Roux cross-examines and pours patronising contempt on the State's witnesses, most of whom put up heroic and compelling evidence in the box.  Nonetheless, Barry Roux is the new super-hero, with parody Twitter accounts (@BarryRouxLaw) springing up and viewers in awe of his legal prowess.  Gerrie Nel leads his witnesses competently and quietly bides his time until the State case is closed.

Then the Defence case starts.  Social and other media are abuzz with Oscar's every word of his evidence in chief.  When Gerrie Nel starts his cross-examination, the wheels of Oscar's case start falling off.  As Gerry first starts casting doubt on Oscar's evidence and then moves up a gear to paint him as a thoroughly unreliable witness, the social media sentiment changes to turn Oscar into the villain and Gerrie into the hero.

When Oscar's expert witness, #RogerDixon, is torn limb from limb by Gerrie, the former is totally vilified through the social and orthodox media and Gerrie Nel is elevated to super-hero.  Barry Roux becomes the villain for leading such a hopeless witness.  Oscar is downgraded in much of the public's eyes from villain to lying murderer, before his case is closed and a long time before he has been convicted.  And the story has much more unfolding to do.

The point of the story is that we have 50 million judges here in South Africa and billions more throughout the world.  No matter what any of us think about Oscar's guilt, ultimately it will only be a single person, #JudgeMasipa who makes the guilty or not-guilty call, and she will and can only do so when she has heard and seen every shred of evidence and argument.

So how is it that we all attribute to ourselves the ability to judge others?  We judge them for being weak, vain, disingenuous, ugly, conniving, overbearing, pathetic, selfish, and...But the judgment is made more often than not without knowing all the facts, yet we are ready to vilify when we have heard enough and find that the person being judged differs from our own standards, whatever those may be.

What if we could all just live our lives without the judging, and leave that up to someone else, perhaps an all-knowing, all-seeing higher power?  We might just all get along a whole lot better.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful piece Andrew.....your uncluttered words echo my deepest personal sentiments. My own painful and jagged edge however...is to not sit in judgement of those who sit in judgement.

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