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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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Saturday, 16 January 2016

ONE #SPARROW DOTH NOT A SUMMER MAKE

Although more than enough has probably now been said about the unfortunate #racist comments of #PennySparrow, and we can feel grateful for the lancing of the festering boil and debate she has sparked, there is one perspective in respect of which I want to say a little more.

Penny Sparrow made comments which are unacceptable in any decent society, perhaps more so in our own with its difficult history and understandable sensitivities. She ticks the racist box, which by my definition is something like "any person who universally and prejudicially judges or treats any group of people according to the colour of their skin or their origin". 

That she is both white and a member of the Democratic Alliance has now caused many members of our society (principally those who are black and have other political allegiances) to conclude that all whites must therefore be racists and that the DA must be a racist party. 

Those two leaps of logic are, with respect, both b/s and opportunistic. That is right up there with the conclusion that every Muslim is a terrorist because some Muslims have been involved in terror attacks, or every German is a Jew-hater, or every child is a thief just because one child steals some candy from a shop. You might as well go in the other direction and say every man and woman in India is a saint because that is where Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa originate. Or conclude that every ANC politician is corrupt because our President has a lot to answer for in terms of Nkandla (and many other question marks).

The biggest single favour we can do each other as a society right now is for everyone to stop judging others for being black, white, dishonest, racist, violent, fat or whatever other unhelpful judgments are being put on people. Judgments are simply divisive and foster the deep wave of unhappiness under which we are currently drowning. It was white judgment of the black race as a whole that originally set the scene for apartheid, Hitlerian judgment of Jews that set the scene for the holocaust and it is on-going judgment which has the potential to rip apart the now-tenuous notion of the Rainbow Nation.

So how about we all take a step back, stop trying to score points and simply stop judging? We might just have a different perspective and experience if we simply see each other for who we are: human beings sharing the same feelings, fears, hopes and aspirations. Just saying.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

CLEARING THE FOG

Yesterday I went for a ride in the light rain and mist which is prevalent at this time of year. As usual, I was wearing a pair of sunglasses for eye protection from wind, insects, grit and whatever. 

Needless to say, within minutes my glasses were fogged up and splattered with rain. Visibility was gloomy and precarious at best, but at least my eyes were safe. (Yes, right!) The fact that I personally wasn't safe, especially at any sort of speed, was a matter of some concern, but for a while it seemed like a marginally better option to ride tentatively and not see where I was going than to have a bit of mud in my eyes.

When I finally relented and removed the glasses, amazingly I could see clearly, I discovered that there was quite a lot of light around and all of a sudden had a new perspective on the world around me, and particularly my path ahead. (Which of course then immediately became the inspiration for this blog.) The risk of some grit in the eyes was so overwhelmingly outweighed by the clarity of vision that I almost felt embarrassed by my initial insistence that I keep the glasses on.

The obvious allegory is this: Let the path ahead be Life. Let the sunglasses be the screen through which we view Life. Let the rain and mist on the glasses be our entrenched prejudices, fears, demands and false beliefs through which we need to peer in order to interpret and make our way through Life. As long as we have that unhelpful stuff obscuring our vision of Life, we will make our way tentatively (or recklessly) through Life, struggling all the way. 

Remove the fears, prejudices and so on and all of a sudden we can see clearly and move with confidence and grace down Life's path. If we are open to Life just as it is, we might get a little grit irritating us, but it can always be wiped away and dealt with as it arises.  

The path to clarity is truly a question of choosing to let go of unhelpful beliefs, fears, demands and prejudices and simply risking whatever goes with an openness to possibility