Selfishness + Self-Hate + Suicide = the EASY WAY OUT

My opinion: If one hates one’s life, and has low self-worth, low self-esteem, zero ability to communicate with other people and no courage to face life, no hope to carry on, no guts, balls and/or integrity or dignity given to the human race who have been set apart from the animals; if one has ‘not found answers’ and wants to commit suicide, because of pride, perceived inability to apologise, perceived inability to face consequences, perceived inability to deal with their existential vacuum, perceived inability to be humble and ask for help, perceived inability to admit a mistake, inability to see beyond their moment etc… here’s the thing – f.y.i. – an intelligent person knows that suicide IS NOT THE ANSWER. An intelligent, non-self-absorbed person knows that being absorbed in only themselves, hating themselves and thus having the thought of desiring to kill themselves, is something that makes them feel guilty. It is something that rides on their conscience, keeps them awake at night, creates thoughts in their head that they don’t deserve to live, that they are unworthy to live, that they have no purpose, that all they can see is ‘their’ world in a mess, they can see that they want out because they have thought themselves into believing that they can’t ‘handle it’, that they can’t ‘change it’ (and all this stupid thinking is a load of rubbish by the way, you are perfectly loved and you do have an incredibly good purpose for being on earth!), that no-one else will change or be who they want them to be, they want to kill themselves, but their guilt and their conscience are telling them that they can’t… that killing themselves is the one thing in life that is not the answer … but they want to… and where there is a will there is a way … there is a way to commit suicide without feeling the intensity of the guilt, the responsibility, the pain and hurt of it, if but for a small moment before whatever truth meets us all after death . . . Join Terrorist Islam. (How appropriate – ‘terror’ – just go join ‘terror’ – only a desperate person would do that, in my opinion.)

If one joins Terrorist Islam, then one can kill one’s self and loads of other people too. One can take one’s self-hate and blow it up in the faces of millions of other people. One can take one’s self-hate, self-loathing, guilt, conscience and spin it all around in a brain-washed way that will make it “ok” (even justified!) for one to break the one important law in human society: THOU SHALT NOT KILL. If one joins Terrorist Islam, one will be brainwashed into believing that they are above God, above the one Human Law that EVERYONE is accountable to: THOU SHALT NOT KILL. If one joins Terrorist Islam, then one’s perceived inability to speak to other people, one’s perceived inability to ‘belong’ to one’s own ‘society’, one’s perceived inability to change the world, one’s perceived inability to have a back bone and practice love, all the inner hurt, all the personal history of sorrow, heartache, hate, terror and fear is twisted and turned around to allow that one desire, that one no-no, the most cowardly and selfish thing ever, to be “ok”: Suicide. Terrorist Islam will allow lonely, sad, hurting, fearful, manipulable, broken and angry people to step over God, over what it means to be a human being, completely miss the point of what it means to be a human being, dissolve all sensible, logical rationale, kill all love and step into finding a mental, personal, ‘guilt-free’ way around: THOU SHALT NOT KILL.

Why is that law there? It is there because LOVE does not KILL. Love talks. Love is challenged. Love rises above the challenge. Love FORGIVES. Love HOPES. Love HEALS. LOVE is PEACE BEYOND UNDERSTANDING! Love is SHARING. LOVE IS KIND, CARING, GIVING… LOVE LIVES! Suicide and Suicide Bombing ARE NONE OF THAT. NONE OF IT.

To enter into a place and intentionally kill the person in line to develop the cure for HIV/AIDS. To kill the person who is the only breadwinner of a family. To go out and intentionally create ORPHANS. To destroy lives. To instill NIGHATMARES in ALL the people who witnessed the suicide bombers SELFISHNESS. Who had to witness the bloodshed. Who had to be traumatised and destroyed inside because someone hated their life so much that they desired everyone else to hate theirs too! SELFISH!

As a member of the human race, I do not believe that killing anyone, including oneself, is any sign of bravery. To go and kill unarmed people? To step in and decide that you are the one who should decide the fate of innocent human beings? To decide that you should kill people who have done NOTHING to you? COWARDLY! So very very COWARDLY!!!  COWARDLY, COWARDLY!!!! I DO NOT believe that breaking one of the highest human laws: THOU SHALT NOT KILL, is acceptable, unless it is self-defense. I believe it is the most COWARDLY, IRRESPONSIBLE, SELFISH, SELF-HATE-FILLED, SELF-LOATHING-FILLED, DESTESTABLE, UNWORTHY, HORRENDOUS, NASTY, MEAN, DISEMPOWERING, HURTFUL, HATE creating things a human being can do with their life. Then on top of that, to turn around and say it is for ‘God’ – ‘Jihad’ – what a load of BULLSHIT! What a crock of CRAP! It is not for God; God has made it more than clear: THOU SHALT NOT KILL!!!!! It isn’t for GOD, it is for MAN, for EGO, for personal PRIDE, for personal VENGANCE, for personal HATE, for personal LOW SELF ESTEEEM, for personal DESIRE, for personal POWER, for personal GUILT, ME ME ME – personal EVERYTHING! Cowards, such cowards. Irresponsible cowards. Destroy others and then kill yourself so you don’t have to be held accountable or take responsibility for your actions… spinelessly cowardly.

Viktor E. Frankl, “To suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.”

“Each situation in life represents a challenge to man and presents a problem for him to solve, the question of the meaning of life may actually be reversed. Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognise that is it ‘he’ who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by ‘answering for’ his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible. Thus, logotherapy sees in responsibleness the very essence of human existence.” Man’s Search For Meaning, V.E.Frankl.

The Existential Vacuum – i.e. Sunday Blues

“Let us consider, for instance “Sunday neurosis,” that kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest. Not a few cases of suicide can be traced back to existential vacuum. Such widespread phenomena as depression, aggression and addiction are not understandable unless we recognise the existential vacuum underlying them. This is also true of the crises of pensioners and aging people.

Moreover, there are various masks and guises under which the existential vacuum appears. Sometimes the frustrated will to meaning is vicariously compensated for by will to power, including the most primitive form of the will to power, the will to money. In other cases, the place of frustrated will to meaning is taken by the will to pleasure. That is why existential frustration often eventuates in sexual compensation. We can observe such cases that the sexual libido becomes rampant in the existential vacuum.”

“The existential vacuum is a widespread phenomenon of the twentieth century. … … … …man has suffered another loss in his more recent development inasmuch as the traditions which buttressed his behavior are now rapidly diminishing. No instinct tells him what he has to do, and no tradition tells him what he ought to do. Instead, he either wishes to do what other people do (conformism) or he does what other people wish him to do (totalitarianism).

A statistical survey recently revealed that among my European students, 25 percent showed a more-or-less marked degree of existential vacuum. Among my American students it was not 25 but 60 percent.

The existential vacuum manifests itself mainly in a state of boredom. Now we can understand Schopenhauer when he said that mankind was apparently doomed to vacillate eternally between the two extremes of distress and boredom. In actual fact, boredom is now causing, and certainly bringing to psychiatrists, more problems to solve than distress. And these problems are growing increasingly crucial, for progressive automation will probably lead to an enormous increase in the leisure hours available to the average worker. The pity of it is that many of these will not know what to do with all their newly acquired free time.” Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl, 1959.

Letter to VC of Rhode University – RE: Name Change

Dear Dr Sizwe Mabizela

RE: Contribution to “Name Change” rationale and discussions

It has been with great unease and unhappiness that I have been reading the unfolding influences that have been forcing their pressure on Rhodes University. Fully aware of the turmoil of the past, and how Rhodes has always remained a common ground for all, it has been tremendously saddening to see such an historically strong institution allowing the agenda of race to influence the name of an institution that has been a home to so many national and international cultures and races. I have, however, been pleased to see that the situation, from a marketing and publicity perspective (at my level, anyway) is being opened to discussion, debate and contribution by all concerned. Thus, I would like to contribute my thoughts to the panel who are making the decision on whether or not to change the name “Rhodes University”. I am not sure how to convey my thoughts to them, hence I would appreciate your assistance, if possible, in this regard. Thank-you.

RHODES UNIVERSITY – “Where Leaders Learn”. The slogan for Rhodes: “WHERE LEADERS LEARN”, in itself states ‘learning’, and where ‘leaders learn’ is ‘from the past’. Every journal, every textbook, every bit of knowledge and information that Rhodes Students use to build their ‘new’ knowledge and theories, and step out to re-hypothesise with, is based on, and in, prior knowledge, i.e. history; on what went before. It would be unethical and immoral to go back into those books, journals and publications and ‘change’ the names of them to suit anyone else’s ‘preferences’. It would be against the plagiarism laws to take any of the documents created in the past and simply place a ‘new name’ on them to make them ‘fit’ a ‘new author’.

Please continue with me in my analogy: Rhodes University is not a ‘new’ publication, it is not a ‘new’ establishment, and it is not a place that was built or created in the era of 1948 – 1992 when apartheid was in force. Rhodes University is 111 years old. It pre-dates apartheid as an establishment that survived the horrors of that era. It is an institution that has had its name for over a century. It is a name rich in history, the history that was the truth in the time that the institution was built. Changing the name is a way of altering history, plagiarizing the truth of the authors of the past and making something that has the invaluable beauty of centuries of history into something that only has the value of 21st century politics. Rhodes is not of the 21st century, it was established in the 19th century and its name and brand hold the memories, unity, challenges and wonders of all those decades combined.

No-one who attended the University in the decades of its existence was ever referred to on their exam answer papers (to my knowledge) by the institution as: Black, Coloured, Indian, White or any other racially dividing word, they were referred to by their STUDENT NUMBER. Every person who studied at Rhodes was equal in having a number, not a race. “Race” classification and preference, i.e. racism, are human choices, human acts, not those of the establishment of Rhodes the Institution. Yes, I’m sure both racist and non-racist people from all ethnicities have attended Rhodes, but so too have all races been in South Africa for centuries, yet we are not changing the name of our country. Our country is, and has been, associated with far more atrocities than C.J. Rhodes or any individual could ever be, yet the name of our country, and all it has been associated with, doesn’t offend anyone enough to change the name. If people were to actually think about what “South Africa” means and the collective horrors experienced in this country with regards to crime, violence, rape, racism, apartheid and all the rest, then, based on the logic of changing a name because it is offensive, we should be changing the name of our country, not just the institutions. But to do that would be to deny the road we as South Africans have walked together and who we have become and achieved – together. To change a name is to change the truth of the history that makes a collective and unites people, thus bringing us closer together. To change the name won’t erase the problems.

Having gone through the ridiculous expense and waste of money of Road Name changes in Durban, which have resulted in nothing but confusion for all involved, the exercise only proved frustrating. I even had people of all races telling me that the Road Name changes were inconvenient, disruptive and caused many people to get lost and thus lose their way; both those who were new to town and those who’d been around for years. If the parties concerned choose to change the University Name, the admin and frustration behind it is going to last at least another 50 – 60 years as job applicants will all have to explain that the University had to change its name to suit the new students of the 21st century. The University will have to deal with rebranding and find funds for it, when those precious funds could be used elsewhere. Once the 2017, and all before, graduates of Rhodes have passed away, then all their great grandchildren will be attending a ‘different’ place, with a different institutional name on the top of their degree. I’ve always been told that African cultures are proud of their past, their ancestors and their history, yet here they want to make current Rhodes graduates separate from the generations of the future. It makes no sense to me, historically, culturally or by way of heritage and inter-generational connection, to change the Name that is connected to 111 years of history.

Nelson Mandela and Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu were both behind and in support of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and now Honourable Tutu has established a world-wide venture on “Forgiveness”, entitled “The Forgiveness Challenge”. I challenge Rhodes to step up and be the institution that shows that forgiveness is remembering the past (how can we remember if we change the names and the truth of the history we have fought so hard to survive through and change?), accepting it for what was (C.J. Rhodes existed, his name was chosen, it was his era and the 21st century needs to accept that – even a name change won’t erase it, so why try to hide the truth?), knowing the truth (if we change the name of Rhodes, we are changing truth, we are hiding the past and saying that it ‘didn’t happen’, but it did), moving forward, and not letting the past dictate who we are now.

If one looks up “name” in the dictionary, one finds: “a word or phrase identifying a person, place or thing, by which they are known, referred to, or addressed”. Rhodes is an establishment and its name is what all the students refer to it as, the meaning of that name is personal choice and agenda and not part of the ‘name’ in itself. The “Rhodes” name is what employers identify with. Its name is entrenched in history books. Its name is what has lasted 111 years. Its name refers to where we all lived. Changing the name takes away 111 years of first years telling their friends where they are going, it takes away 111 years of graduates proudly mentioning their alma mater, or proudly connecting with other past graduates and identifying with them. The name is what binds 111 years of people and history. No-one in the world can buy 111 years. Barely anyone in the world has, or can, even live for 111 years. Rhodes University has lived longer than humans can, and to end all of that – all that you cannot buy – makes no sense.

Rhodes prides itself on its international connections, yet those international connections have history and have kept their names for WAY longer than Rhodes (Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard etc). Rhodes is finally getting in there with a history to match international standards and a name that has ‘stood the test of time’, BUT because of 21st century students (who have yet to experience the world and the value of history and connectivity) want to send Rhodes back to square one as a ‘newly’ named University. It’s appears so unstable, so unreliable, and so against what LEARNING is all about. Learning cannot happen without history, learning respects history, and changing the name and ‘renewing’ the “status” of the institution shows that Rhodes has no respect for history, that South Africans are unable to forgive, that we have not learnt from our past, that we are not aware that a name is a reference and the reference was created in the 19th century and not the 21st century.

Rhodes University and all that happens there is about the ‘experience’. If one looks up ‘experience’ in the dictionary: “direct participation or observation. The knowledge, skill or practice derived from such experience especially over a period of time. It is something personally encountered or undergone. The sum total of conscious events that make up any individual life or the collective past of a community, nation, etc.” This definition has no connection whatsoever to how individuals choose to place emotion and personal preference on ‘experience’. If a student has had a positive (and mine was at least 95% positive) or negative experience at Rhodes, or in their lives, or in any context, then they have labeled it positive or negative by their own choice and it has NOTHING to do with the name of the place, the building, the University, the clothing brand, the surname, or the fill-in-your-choice of any name of anything. Shakespeare himself wrote in Romeo & Juliet that a ‘rose’ by any other name would smell as sweet, thus Rhodes by any other name would still experience racism if students are racist, regardless of the name of the institution. Rhodes, by any other name will still have ‘originally been Rhodes’ and still have its past…

A “new name” has very little value, history, culture or substance to it, it disassociates people between this and the next generation whilst keeping the same problems within its walls. Whereas keeping the old name keeps people united, learning together and growing together across generations over the centuries. There is more historical and irreplaceable value and strength in keeping the name, than changing it under the illusion that a ‘new’ name will change the hearts, filled with personal and emotional agenda, of those who want it changed.

In a world that craves instant now-give-it-to-me-entitlement, and is beginning to experience even larger generation gaps, keeping the name Rhodes is a small way of helping the vastly separated generations (X, Y, Baby Boomers, etc.) stay connected and have something to share. Keeping the name Rhodes will show that something in the 21st century is not going to bow down to the ‘we-want-it-our-new-way’ generation. It will set a precedent that we learn from the past, we are created and founded in our past and we can’t just change that because ‘we don’t like it’. Tertiary institutions are set up to enlighten the youth, to offer wisdom, growth and mentorship; they are set up to be the ‘adult’ guiding the young and feisty minds that enter their grounds. Changing the name will make the statement that wisdom, age, respect for history, learning from the past, recognising the past, accepting what was and making sure it is never repeated – are unimportant. This disturbs me most of all, along with the loss of truth, history and stability, that a higher learning institution may let the will of young and lesser-experienced minds dictate a move towards going against everything the ‘Higher’ Level Learning Institution should be standing up for – the invaluable unity, connection, knowledge and wisdom that only time, and lots of it, can create. A new name, in the writer’s opinion, an expensive and reducing exercise, sends everything that has been worked towards, and all that has been sacrificed and experienced, into the space of ‘it didn’t happen’, ‘it didn’t matter’, ‘they didn’t matter’, ‘the past didn’t matter’, it is only the current generation who are important and all those who came before ‘got it wrong’… when, in fact, everyone in our past matters, everyone who was and is in this country matters, and if it weren’t for the ‘wrongs’ of the past, we would not be as strong, as educated, as wise and as informed as we are today.

No-one can abolish history; it is what it is – fact. Yes, South Africa’s past holds horrendous times (as does every country in the world), and yes, we have unpleasant and uncomfortable stories, but so do Berlin, Germany – World Wars, Australia & Aborigines, Taiwan & Aborigines, America and Jim Crow, America & Civil War, France & Civil War, North & South Korea etc … still – none of it can be erased or ‘changed’, IT HAS TO BE LEARNT FROM, “where leaders learn” – when everyone is represented. We can only talk, discuss, see both sides, LEARN, GROW and CHALLENGE, when we are presented with all sides… erasing pretends that all has always been okay and good, but it hasn’t. If we don’t preserve the history in the truth that it existed in, then we are creating a “fake” non-real history and then everything our forefathers died for/by will no longer exist or be remembered. The amazing journey we have made as a country from our past to where we are today will become less meaningful, less potent and less true. We need to keep the truth and not pretend history is only full of “perfect” people – it isn’t; life isn’t.

If the desire to change the name is routed in ‘racism’, then reversing the racism is not helping matters. Historically, when various Europeans arrived, yes, with desire to expand their ownership of land in the world, they brought with them: pens, paper, the wheel, education and such like, things that uplifted Nelson Mandela and the freedom fighters to get the degrees they did and approach the uniting of our country in the way they did. Rhodes is an academic institution, surely that means that it should be entitled to have someone with a European bloodline in its title, giving credit to the source of the roots of education? Education dates back to the Roman era, and has its history in the Northern Hemisphere, academia is not of “African” origin… Other European contributions to South Africa: the Voortrekkers used their Wagons to break ground for all the roads we have today. The British town planners made SA’s cities some of the best laid out cities in the world – other international cities do not even have room to park or have cars drive side-by-side, as their streets are too narrow. The architects of all the old buildings are part of ‘white’ history. Not in the least bit denying the Black African workforce that assisted in making plans a reality at all. We did it all together. South Africa has all of our hard work meshed into it and that shouldn’t be erased or changed in name or in any other way. If people only see the “bad” in white people after all the evidence of the good, and the desire to “erase” “white” persists, then it is a destroying of unity and truth… and yes, being racist…

Further to this: erasing the opposition / oppressors, erases both the evidence and the magnitude of the battle that Black African forefathers fought and thus reduces the importance of their legacy in the eyes of the next generation, who already can’t really believe that they may never have had what they do now. I see it in my classroom; they have no idea on the blessings that their forefathers earned for them. Erase the whole story, erase truth and you make the struggle even more meaningless and non-existent.

If the name change happens then it would be evidence that Nelson Mandela’s legacy has been defiled, as the past and the present will be shown to be in conflict and not in acceptance or unity; and Desmond Tutu would have failed because a change of the 111 year old name makes it clear that forgiveness is not an option and it will fuel more resentment and anger and racism than peace and unity.

Continuing with what I find disturbing, is that students are putting their priorities of protest in the order of: “a name” above: rape, fraud, corruption, unemployment, crime, nuclear power purchasing, cancellation of freedom of the press, poverty, class inequality and the like, which are frighteningly real, current and deserve major attention at the moment. This does not make sense.

To end my contribution to the discussion on changing “Rhodes” – how I experienced Rhodes, had nothing to do with a man who died a very very long time ago. As students we took his name and reduced it to a rat, there’s even a Pub called “The Rat and Parrot” just off campus. That Rat symbol – THE RHODENT – became the symbol for all of us as our unified student identity. Mugs, bags, t-shirts, pens and all the other branded paraphernalia, with our “RHODENT” on them, are still available today. I own a bumper sticker and a mug myself. The Rhodent – a lowly rat, that holds no-one above anyone else, became what the name meant to the students in the 20th century, NOT the guy who died decades upon decades ago.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.

I pray hope, peace, truth and honesty for all with regards to the decision currently faced with regards to changing the name of a University that I hold very dear. “Rhodes University” and how it has united me with so many good people.

SIGNED: Student Number

17-18year olds answers to: Revenge, justice, reconciliation &/or forgiveness; with which do you agree and why?

17-18year olds answers to: Revenge, justice, reconciliation &/or forgiveness; with which do you agree and why? (Linked to Characters in a play)

One of our grade 12 set-works in Dramatic Arts is “Nothing But The Truth” by John Kani. I was blown away at the maturity and insight shown by my learners in their answers. They are mixed race, but the majority is Black-African. It is WONDERFUL to see that there is a generation coming up who understand how to move on from the past and build a better future. In the context of some Black-African students currently wanting to ‘erase’ South African History due to their personal agendas and inability to forgive and learn and grow and move on, these answers from my learners were a true blessing to read. Finally, some sense in the context of “Our Country”. Enjoy the read. (I have left them mostly unedited from the exam scripts; they are in no prescribed ‘order’ at all)

  • I am a firm believer in forgiveness. If the oppressed got up and started to do the same thing that was done to them it would just be a never-ending cycle and we would all just feed on hate.
  • Reconciliation, because how do you expect to get over something if you always hold a grudge about it? How will violence make anything better, because you are just as bad as the other person? Take the information and truth you have and forgive that person and try to move on with your life now, knowing the full story.
  • Revenge is no use, because it doesn’t make you a good person either, because you won’t be different from the other people who killed other humans.
  • When you understand what has happened and how you feel about that exposed truth, then you are able to accept the truth, acknowledge it and thereafter move on, knowing that it has happened and it is time to move on from that point.
  • It is always good to forgive, people shouldn’t be judged for what they did in the past.
  • Confessing things takes courage. It isn’t easy trying to move on, but knowing that all is forgiven will make your journey seem clearer because then your conscience is clean. It also gives other people closure to have the real truth.
  • In the play Thando says, “We could have gone for revenge…but how would that have made us different from them?” I agree with this because getting revenge could not satisfy your feelings and emotions. It just makes you more angry and it shows others that you are weak mentally.
  • Confess and speak nothing but the truth. Revenge is not always the solution to every problem, that is why you have to be a better person.
  • It’s about African Humanity / Ubuntu. We are one, no matter the colour of our skin, we need to be kind to each other as one nation.
  • Everything deserves justice, truth and forgiveness. I believe that you can’t get anywhere in life if you hold grudges and you can’t get anywhere if you aren’t being real with certain situations in your life, you won’t go anywhere if you’re still holding on.
  • Our country wouldn’t have achieved our democracy if it wasn’t for reconciliation, truth, amnesty and forgiveness, and also peace.
  • Forgiveness is the key to a clear start and moving on. Forgiveness should come from within in order to create the capability to move on. If we carry out heavy burden of pains from the past with us in the present and the future, then we will always be influenced negatively by those burdens and this won’t assist anyone in any way. There will be no change in societies; there will be no better outcomes. But truth be told, forgiveness doesn’t come easily or quickly, but it is needed for a brighter future.
  • What happened, happened in the past, now it’s the present with its new generation and people need to be united as one and live for tomorrow.
  • Throwing back the bad to the bad is like throwing petrol on to a fire – it only makes it worse. In any situation, not only apartheid, one has to be the bigger person, and by that I mean stop showing others that you are fighting back and make them feel bad by calming down. That brings peace.


Prayer for Rhodes University – South Africa

Dear Lord, I don’t understand. I was at my Alma Mater only a few years ago. There was exactly a third Black-African, a third Indian-African and a third White-African staying in my res. A white and black-subwarden; and the year before: one Coloured and one Portuguese. A Black-African warden, a White-African Hall warden and an Indian-African head of residences. Race was never an issue, we were there to study. We were there to grow. We were proud to be in a place where “Leaders Learn”; that was the point.

Now it is with a grieving heart that I read news and posts about people putting this amazing University down in all respects. Saying that it is a racist place, a place that hasn’t transformed, that hasn’t provided for every person who is there… and Lord, I cannot see how any of this is based in fact. None of my Rhodes University experiences involved any prejudice, racism or close-mindedness, in fact it was everything of the opposite. Discussions, ideas, philosophies, unity, conversation and open-mindedness were all that I experienced there. It was a wonderful space to feel at peace and integrate myself with a fabulous culture of ‘leaders learning’.

Everything in me knows that academic institutions are about learning, not about self, but about all, about not thinking you ‘know-it-all’. Lord, why are people bringing their pasts with them, when they are in a new place? Why are people being close-minded and bringing the hate, prejudice, self-righteousness, personal injuries, fears and angers they have been brought up on into a place where they are supposed to bring open minds and hearts to be the change that we need – into equality, wisdom, peace, forgiveness and all that is good?

I don’t understand why students would want to destroy such an amazing place for a political agenda? Why would they desire to take away from neutral, open ground and make it a power game? Why are such young students so deeply entrenched in the fear, anger and hate from their homes that they cannot let it go when on neutral ground? Why is their view so distorted that they cannot see the truth of the learning and growing ground that Rhodes is? Lord, how can they learn anything new, or grow, when they won’t let go of their prejudices or cast away their old ideas? Lord, you ask us in Your word to RENEW OUR MINDS, so why can’t they? Lord, why can’t they cast away the hate of decades ago to embrace the gift they have in the 21st century? Lord, everyone in this country has had to forgive, has had to let go in some way, with something, and it has been a challenge for everyone, a slow process and one that we have taken on as a country admirably. Yet now, Lord, now youth who weren’t even alive when the atrocities happened are so full of hate, fear and anger, how Lord, how? What personal experiences could an 18 year old in this country have had of apartheid, except those their homes have generated or held on to?

The 18 years olds have seen the transformation of education for all, electricity spread throughout the country, even without the means or maintenance to provide it, water is being distributed, things have been changing. I lived in both regimes Lord, I can see the good You have done, we have worked for. I don’t understand Lord, why do these students want to take Rhodes back into the nasty past that was legally ended over 20 years ago? Why can’t they see the privilege they have been blessed with, the privilege of being in an integrated culture? Integrated in that no-one group has power or preference over another, and I know that Rhodes practices equality, I was part of the culture from waitressing to residence to extra-mural clubs and activities.

Dear Lord, I am praying, I am praying that YOU would change and move in the hearts of the people who still hold onto hate, fear, anger, prejudice and all that destroys. I pray that you would take away the self-righteous, destructive nastiness of ego, resentment, self-will and desire for power and ‘victory’, that is killing the better desire to do good for ALL. Please take away the sad practice of seeing only surface colour, of seeing only one’s own agenda, of taking away all credit due to the elders who have built up every single one of the privileges that students take for granted today. Lord, I pray that people would not see surface colour, but the skeleton beneath – the bones that will return to dust – and realise how unimportant body is. Lord, I pray that in losing the shallow views, all people will begin to see what is important – mind and soul. I pray they will begin to realise that QUALITY Lord, QUALITY is what is important… such qualities as forgiveness, kindness, honesty, comradery and loving others as much as one loves one’s self. I pray people will begin to look at BIG pictures and not their own personal agendas, which are full of weakness, manipulated thoughts and constructed perspectives. Allow people to realise that University is about deconstructing the past via theory to reconstruct the present in practice. Move in amidst all the hate Lord; the “We’re right, you’re wrong” logic; the ego-desires for power and being ‘superior’. Lord, none of us can see everything, all of us are limited and we go to higher learning institutions to learn, grow and understand this. Lord, please don’t let people steer away from the fact that the more they study and learn, the more they will realise that we all know so little. The more they will realise that time will grant them wisdom. The more they will realise that being still, listening and being aware and full of attention to everything around them is far more helpful, kind, uplifting and rewarding than shouting their mouths off, making as much noise as they can and making a mockery of what their forefathers have worked so hard to achieve. Lord, I pray that Your Will, will be done, that You will have the victory in changing perceptions and mindsets: from being so bound up in an unchangeable past to being moved up into new and positive-potential-fulfilling views.

Lord, C.S.Lewis put it so poignantly with regards to “love others as you love yourself”. May others be open enough to take in his words: “Now that I come to think of it, I have not exactly got a feeling of fondness and affection for myself, and I do not even always enjoy my own society. So apparently ‘Love your neighbour’ does not mean ‘feel fond of him’ or ‘find him attractive’. I ought to have seen that before, because, of course, you cannot feel fond of a person by trying. Do I think well of myself, think myself a nice chap? Well, I am afraid I sometimes do (and those are, no doubt, my worst moments) but that is not why I love myself. So loving my enemies does not apparently mean thinking them nice either. That is an enormous relief. For many good people imagine that forgiving your enemies means making out that they are really not such bad fellows after all, when it is quite plain they are. Go a step further. In my most clear-sighted moments not only do I not think myself a nice man, but I know that I am a very nasty one. I can look at some of the things I have done with horror and loathing. So apparently I am allowed to loathe and hate some of the things my enemies do. Now that I come to think of it, I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man’s actions, but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin, but not the sinner.

For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life – namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things. Consequently, Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery, we ought to hate them. Not one word about what we have said about them needs to be unsaid. But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is in anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere, he can be cured and made human again.

The real test is this. Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, ‘Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that’, or is it a feeling of disappointment, even sheer determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, then white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything – God and our friends and ourselves included – as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.

Now, a step further… I have often thought to myself how it would have been if, when I served in the First World War, I and some young German had killed each other simultaneously and found ourselves together in a moment after death. I cannot imagine that either of us would have felt any resentment or even embarrassment. I think we might have laughed over it. I imagine somebody will say. ‘Well, if one is allowed to condemn the enemy’s acts, and punish him, and kill him, what difference is left between Christian morality and the ordinary view?’ All the difference in the world. Remember, we Christians think a man lives for ever. Therefore, what really matters is those little marks or twists on the central, inside part of the soul which are going to turn it, in the long run, into a heavenly or hellish creature. We may kill if necessary, but we must not hate and enjoy hating. We may punish if necessary, but we must not enjoy it. In other words, something inside us, the feeling of resentment, the feeling that wants to get one’s own back, must simply be killed. I do not mean that anyone can decide this moment that he will never feel it anymore. That is not how things happen. I mean that every time it bobs its head up, day after day, year after year, all our lives long, we must hit it on the head. It is hard work, but the attempt is not impossible. Even while we kill and punish we must try to feel about the enemy as we feel about ourselves – to wish that he were not bad, to hope that he may, in this world, or another, be cured,: in fact, wish to do good. That is what is meant in the Bible by loving him: wishing his good, not feeling fond of him nor saying he is nice, when he is not.

I admit that this means loving people who have nothing lovable about them. But then, has oneself anything loveable about it? You love it simply because it is yourself. God intends us to love all selves in the same way and for the same reason: but he has given us the sum ready worked out in our own case to show us how it works. We have then to go on and apply the rule to all other selves. Perhaps it makes it easier if we remember that that is how He loves us. Not for any nice, attractive qualities we think we have, but just because we are the things called selves. For really there is nothing else in us to love: creatures like us who actually find hatred such a pleasure that to give it up is like giving up beer or tobacco…” C.S.Lewis, Chapter 2, ‘Mere Christianity’.

Priorities – why are some people’s priorities so messed up?

20150829_085916Once again my life experiences have woken me up in this force from within me that could probably be seen from many angles: 1) Passion, 2) Anger, 3) Hate, 4) Fear, 5) Conviction, 6) Insult, 7) Holy Spirit… and whatever other emotion / force that people assign to the burning ache that happens in one’s chest that shouts: “You just have to stand up for this”… it seems most of my blogs are “sourced” from “that” place.

This blog, once again, revolves around the “Names” of Universities in South Africa saga. In particular, my alma mater: Rhodes University. Decades ago there was a guy whose surname was Rhodes, and there is the belief that the man (who no-one in the 21st century ever met, or could ever know) doesn’t deserve to have his name used anymore, because government has changed and a minority group believe that they should erase all white history in South Africa. I.e. they want to destroy DECADES of history, they want to cost the University a FORTUNE in ‘rebranding’, ‘re-heading’, and ‘re-marketing’ a mix that has worked for years. A little group of upstarts has decided that the alumni, who have put MILLIONS and MILLIONS into their “Rhodes” University, should now put more into it to pay for their little itch that dislikes a man who they’ve never met, dislikes an apartheid system they never lived in, and, in so doing, cause great annoyance, frustration and a waste of time and money because they have no respect for HISTORY.

This nonsense really has NOTHING to do with present day South Africa, anyone walking around the Rhodes Campus would know and feel how fantastic it is; and that has NOTHING to do with the NAME and EVERYTHING to do with the PEOPLE – of ALL races who live, work and study there.

This little group appear to be against white people in their essence and by nature interested in segregating themselves – this is wholly evident in the fact that they still call themselves the: “Black Student Movement”, thus, by their own title and own choice of label (that no-one is demanding that they change in this 20 year old multi-racial-EQUAL-Rights South Africa) they are telling the world that “Black” should be alone and separate from everyone else. How can ANYONE let a group who see themselves as a singled-out-more-important-separated race, in a VERY multi-racial society, dictate what the majority desire?

If they wanted to do this LEGITIMATELY, LEGALLY and DEMOCRATICALLY, then they would put out a VOTE to EVERY Alumni, every current student, and every lecturer in the decades of databases and ASK THEM TO VOTE on whether or not they want the name of their University to change. I have NO doubt in my mind that the hundreds of students I studied with will vote to KEEP OUR UNIVERSITY NAME … Why? Because of the Nickname. As students we all took on the “Rhodes” and reduced it to a “Rat”, we even have a Pub Called “The Rat and Parrot” just off campus. That Rat symbol – THE RHODENT – became the symbol for all of us for our student identity. We have mugs, bags, t-shirts, pens and all the other branded paraphernalia, with our “RHODENT” on it. I even have a bumper sticker. The Rhodent – a lowly rat, that holds no-one above anyone else, has become what the name means to students AND NOT the guy who died decades upon decades ago.

Interestingly, however, this little group of upstarts occupied the VC’s office – illegally. They have put graffiti on campus property – illegally. They are photocopying wads of the VC’s “Private and Confidential” documents – illegally – and are “playing” with journalists, like they are important. There are THREE: ILLEGAL, GO TO PRISON, offences going on and their supporters are blind enough to say – no, it’s all about that dead guy and what we think he stood for, and what history books portrayed…? Seriously?

How about skipping over a past that no-one can change, getting over your personal issues about whatever prejudices you have, and jumping into the 21st CENTURY where you can CHOOSE your view, and choose to see a new meaning for the name? Take on the “Rhodent”, take on the change, respect the history, respect the reminder of where we have come from, respect that change has to happen, and we can’t change or erase the past, and we shouldn’t desire to change or replace the past, because IT IS THAT PAST that got us to where we are today. IT IS THAT PAST, that history, that has taught us the lessons we need to remember, we need to acknowledge and we need to make sure we never repeat.

Changing a name will not erase racism. Changing a name will not erase the anger and hurt in anyone’s heart – it will only aggravate and cause more hurt because it is saying one group’s history is more important than another’s. Changing a name is expensive, in an economic climate where we should be focusing on spending money on NECESSARY things. Changing a name will not change the history that has already been laid down. Acceptance is the only way to move forward peacefully.

What has gutted me more than anything about these little upstarts is their lack of appreciation for the privilege of being at Rhodes; their lack of respect for their elders, the alumni and the VC; and MOST of all – their SCREWED UP priorities. I really am heart-broken, that in the 21st century – 20 years AFTER apartheid, that they have not moved on from the past where other people were treated horrendously and into the present where they are free to IMPROVE the situation, instead of make it worse and create a century-long feud like the Capulets and Montagues in “Romeo & Juliet”.

Why are they not protesting against the fact that a woman is raped every few seconds in this country?

Why aren’t they protesting against the fact that the ESKOM bosses, who have cried “no funds” to give the people electricity, have received MILLIONS in bonuses? Or how about the fact that the government, who haven’t effectively managed coal energy, are now wanting to manage NUCLEAR ENERGY?

Why aren’t they protesting against the fact that in a time of poverty, 25% unemployment, water shortages and shocking educational statistics, the president has spent a quarter of a BILLION on his ONE house?

Why aren’t they protesting against the fact that pollution is killing us; that the world’s population is currently bringing itself to EXTINCTION for the first time ever in the millennia of the history of life?

Why have they placed The Name of an over 100 year old University as more important than the issues of the 21st century?

I don’t understand… and my mind asks: Which political party is sponsoring these little upstarts? What is their “REAL” agenda? How can a mass of people let them do what they are illegally doing? It’s apartheid all over again – Hitler all over again – one little group dictating to the masses and the masses letting them. . .  and still society is apathetic and lets it happen… ugh

What’s worse is that those supporting the name change appear completely clueless that “Rhodes” University does not teach or lecture racism; completely clueless that being racist is something that is ‘learnt’ from their parents and those they mixed with in their school years. Racism is not something anyone ‘learns’ at University, it is actually part of the baggage that individuals have chosen to take on from their elders. Changing the name will not get rid of the baggage, only the individual can choose to let go of it.