Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Problem of the Human Racism

I think we all discriminate against others. Our survival depended on it and it's the reason why we are here today.

I have come to believe we are all programmed by nature and nurture to be nasty to those we don't recognise and nice to those we do. It's part of the group survival instinct that we have inherited from our ancestors. There are also sayings that come to mind: 'birds of a feather flock together', 'like seeks like' and so on. I think we are programmed to predominantly seek mates from members of the opposite sex that remind us of the archetypal parents imprinted on us. There has to be a fine balance of familiarity and difference to recognise a genetically suitable mate. So we do discriminate whether we think we are racists or not. However, this does not mean that those we don't select to be close to us are in any way inferior. They are simply not suitable for us or to our liking. There are in other words those we like and accept and then there are the 'others'.

Where we all get into trouble is when we begin to think that the 'others' are somehow inferior.

The most obvious points of difference are the colour of one's skin and their culture, both of which were brutally deployed by the apartheid government to denigrate black people and create a division within the South African population. But what is equally wrong is trying to force integration of population groups to correct that past injustice. Both will result in anger, resistance and even violence. You simply can't ignore peoples choices and make them do as you unilaterally see fit. History has shown that people will naturally integrate as they become familiar with each other.

Although I was born and raised in a racist society, I have watched my children grow up in a South Africa free of discrimination and have seen them integrate with kids of other colour and culture without any thought of being different. I meet their black friends and I have hope for future of South Africa. They are all equally well educated, well spoken, mannered and ambitious. They are the future of South Africa because they share a common culture. The 'other-ness' is no longer and issue. They are simply the same in each other's eyes and would only deem each another unsuitable for no other reason but they simply don't like them. Why they choose to not like someone could be the subject of another long discussion, but essentially it's none of anybodies business.

We mustn't lose sight of the fact that although the 'Mitochondrial Eve' was supposed to have originated from the african continent, it is the younger european humans that have introduced all the knowledge, technology and invention to the world and exported it back to africa. There was definitely a difference between those human tribes that were established between the 30º and 60º parallels in Eurasia and those who were not. Their situation provided greater opportunities but also required more inventive problem solving that that translated into a degree of sophistication that has benefitted mankind in the long run. It also created the horrors of colonialism and slavery based on the misconception that the 'others' were ignorant, inferior savages and therefore less than human. It's ironic that the oppressed were often more dignified and humane than their oppressors.

Hitler also believed in racism. He promoted the idea of a master race. That philosophy resulted in white supremacists today that are only tolerated because democratic society affords every minority it's rights too. It could be argued that the white race has brought more of the benefits to humanity than any other race, but that doesn't negate the humanity or the rights of other humans. We perhaps should consider that humans as a whole are the master race. We might all have differing skills and some may seem better suited to thrive in the data-driven world of today, but that doesn't mean we are better than someone else. I think to be a truly noble human would require that you act selflessly and for the good of all the inhabitants of planet earth. To not do so would only confirm that we are indeed little more than jumped-up animals, suitable only for extinction when we finally thoughtlessly consume our limited life-support system.

Perhaps the real issue is one of the survival of the human race after all.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Power Play

I never wanted to use my blog as a soapbox, but I despair for this country because of it's current leadership.

I once read that nobility is achieved, it is not inherited. In each generation there are individuals most suited to the social environment that exists at the time. They become the aristocracy of the generation into which they are most fortunate to have been born. Those individuals have been blessed with skill-sets, attitudes and aptitudes most suitable to thrive in their world. Because of their success we tend to look to them for examples of how to conduct ourselves in order to succeed within the society we inhabit. Because we esteem them, they become the nobility of each generation. But each generation of leaders also have to prove themselves by showing tireless wisdom, strength of character and leadership skills and in so doing win the respect and admiration of their peers and elders.

But this seems to not be the case in with the current leadership in South Africa. From where I stand, you just need to have the right cronies and connections to empower yourself and rise up in society to act and be treated like royalty. What this teaches our society is that you need not be noble, honest, dignified or successful to be given authority and power. All you need is to be obsequious, ruthless, greedy, and well-connected.

Julius Malema doesn't manifest the characteristics of a great leader such as Mandela, he does not even come close to an Mbeki or even FW De Klerk. He reminds me of a coward and a bully. I suspect that he only speaks so boldly because wherever he goes he is surrounded by state-sponsored bodyguards every minute of every day. Even so, one can't help but notice his absence in Ventersdorp after the murder and subsequent funeral of Eugene Terreblanche. The kind of decisive confident leader that he pretends to be would have been there in a heartbeat to make amends by expressing regret, offering support and doing whatever was possible to bring the perpetrators to justice. Julius was deafening in his silence. He strikes me as the sort of bully who has never had the privilege of having his stuffing rearranged in a schoolyard for being too big for his boots. He's happy to shout the odds but slow to shoulder the burden of leadership. Apart from being all bluster and little substance, what makes me worry most about Julius is that he seems to be drunk on the power that he wields.

What of those who placed him in his position? I am certain he like President Zuma, was positioned by consensus within the ruling party and not by popular vote.

What kind of leadership places such an belligerent, ignorant person in a position with such power, authority and influence? They have either taken leave of their senses or simply have no clue what a true leader is, or there is a more sinister reason for his role as a protagonist?

Perhaps this is the achilles heel in this form of government. People are in positions of authority simply because they're correctly aligned and not because they have the skills and attributes that inspire respect and admiration. Not a single intelligent soul gazing upon our political landscape could misinterpret the malice and danger of the things being said by Julius.

I think the ANC should be held wholly responsible for his misdeeds and utterances. They should be acting decisively and ruthlessly with someone who is flagrantly ignoring their directives and behaving in a manner that causes embarrassment to both the party, the state and the country. I suggest to the ANC that a quiet, unambiguous chat with the ingrate prince would be most in order. A conversation where it will be made most plain to Julius that power that is given can be taken away, and all that he is - depends on the good graces of the powers that installed him. I have to wonder why they have not done this already? Are they perhaps refusing to pull in the leash because the handlers are quite obviously, scared of the dog?