Country of My Sulk: another criticism of South Africa to add to its already extensive repertoire

racismIn the past, when South Africa was mentioned, associations of Apartheid and Racism would crop up. Nowadays, associations of Freedom, Democracy and Peace develop. I am truly saddened to be the bearer of bad news at this prospect, but South Africa can indeed not yet claim these merits.

Our philosophy lecturer introduced today’s class with a serious tone in saying that we would be dealing with sensitive topics. The main question “when can someone be considered African?” sparked up a fiery debate. Initially, every disagreement had been dealt with in a neutral fashion. One student then made (what I would consider) an indoctrinated notion claiming that only black people are African. Furthermore, he also claimed that Ubuntu (the African philosophy that a person is only a person through other people) should only be shown to one’s own community. Thus, by earlier stating that all non-Blacks should be excluded from the African community, the problem developed that therefore inter-racial communications involving Ubuntu towards each other should be proved to be impossible. Needless to say, emotions were stirred and fiery patriotic claims followed.

As this student’s upsetting conclusion dawned on everyone, it was clear that a racist discourse of exclusion still surrounds South Africa like vehement, opaque gas. This black student’s views were then very cleverly challenged by another black student proving that there might be hope of escaping this poisonous ideology. Not only among blacks does this ideology exist, quite obviously: there is a constant bickering between races.  It must be noted that there are individuals who rise above this racism, but at the moment, the emotionality of the country’s history has consumed most people.

From this example it is clear that every good theory can have bad interpretations which drag it down into the mud. Ubuntu’s philosophy is as follows: I am because you are. If we could understand the “I” and the “you” as always belonging to the same worldwide context, Ubuntu could very well lead not only to a more understanding nation, but to a more understanding world. If we understand our context not only in terms of ourselves, our families, or our communities – if we open our contexts into seeing ourselves as part of the world, a truly peaceful and helping world community could exist.

It is clear that South Africa still has a long walk to the other kind of freedom. Yes, individuals are now free by law, but if we can be free in social situations – if we can communicate with one another without feeling inferior or superior, we could be emotionally and socially emancipated as well. What scares me about South Africa is that it is still not attempted to instil this freedom.

A last image I leave you with:

yin yang

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“How Many BA Students Does it Take to Pour a Drink?”

As a BA student, I get this kind of mocking question all the time. This particular one has been bothering me for months. As per usual, it is impossible to come up with a witty/intellectual response when something like that gets thrown at you like a hot potato. Today, however, I found a perfect response that could be pitched to this type of ignorant question while simultaneously asserting the importance of the social sciences/humanities as a field of study.

Q: “How many BA Students does it take to pour a drink?” (This question was posed by an Engineering Student if anyone was wondering)

A: Well, even though it might take a considerable amount of us to do this simple task, it is not a reflection of our stupidity – on the contrary, we have passionately internalised many of the ideals of well-loved philosophers who are unfortunately not well-known to the general sphere of the population.

From their rational classics, we understand the importance of pooling together the social forces in a community in order not only to get things done more efficiently, but also to benefit our humanity by doing so. If we are all pouring drinks together, do we not then simplify the task considerably for each individual? Are we not then less likely to spill? Do we not then gain more of a sense of camaraderie and happiness out of such a seemingly mundane, everyday activity?

Those of you who trust solely in Science, Accounting and Technology, fail at harnessing the vast and meaningful possibilities contained within humanity and the human psyche. Yes, you might build a machine to pour numerous drinks; yes, building one shows that you are very clever; yes, it is very impressive. But do you gain a sense of your own humanity out of it? Do you feel better having all these already-poured drinks ready with no one to help you drink them?

Point is, even if you do have all these drinks to yourself, you’ll merely end up putting yourself into a severely depressed, comatose stupor. And this is precisely what we in the humanities department are trying to avoid you from doing.

Let us help you prevent this :’)

Where the Natural Sciences assume happiness can only be achieved by making our lives more effective (and hence, more technological), the Social Sciences challenge this assumption and come up with a great many creative responses. Most of the general public would, unfortunately, just dismiss these (actually) very rational theories as “hocus pocus” – doesn’t this remind you a bit of those “silly” people who dismissed Galileo Galilei’s theory without giving it a second thought?

Don’t misunderstand me – the Natural Sciences as well as Technological Advancements definitely serve their own benefits in our society (just imagine if you could have a great big machine pouring drinks while all of us could talk about the essence of life and stuff!). And then as soon as we realise that the machine is becoming too much of a focus and that social interaction is wavering and that consequently ideas on happiness and life are stagnating, the Social Sciences can step in again in order to retain our sense of meaningfulness!

A last idea that I will leave you with:

“Q: What went wrong in our society that undermined freedom and fulfilment and instead served enslavement and unfulfilment?

A: A Technological-Rational approach has been extended from the (rightful) domination of nature to the (wrongful) domination of people and society. It is not Science and Technology per se that are enslaving, but how we choose to use Science and Technology”

–          Idea attributed to Jürgen Habermas

Is Foreseeing the Future a Possibility?

Aside

I’ve been foreseeing the topic of ‘psychics’ being one of my posts for a long time now…

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They are often labelled as “heathens”; “witches”, or more secularly, “crazies”. It seems to me, however, that these “crazies” (the ones that simply go against the grain of conventional thought) often  contribute something extremely useful to the world.

For example, if you think about how Galileo Galilei, priests wanted to decapitate him for believing (and observing!) that the earth was not the centre of the universe and by far not the only planet with imperfections. People hated him. This often happens with people that have revolutionary ideas that don’t, at the time, make sense.

People used to think that the planets revolved around the earth in a slinky-style fashion.

Before Galileo (who initially consulted Copernicus’ texts), people used to think that the planets revolved around the earth in a slinky-style fashion.

What if psychics actually had integral knowledge into the happenings of the future? What if it’s simply a skill that is more developed in certain people than in others?

I know that many of my friends do not really think about the future. Then only a day before the test they would start worrying. These friends of mine are not stupid – they can put forth solutions to some of the most complex social problems. Yet, they do not have they (learnt) skill of thinking about consequences.

What I’m implying is that perhaps psychics just have a knack for foreseeing certain most likely consequences. If it is possible to 90% accurately predict the future (such as that if you are not going to study, you are going to fail), why is it not possible that some people may be able to think about the likeliest consequences just a bit further in the future?

Basically, metacontextually, my point is that one should not judge people with alternative regimes as “crazies”. Yes, they might be wrong, but there’s a great chance that you’re also wrong [another philosophical question comes to mind: is there a right?]. And, what if, 1000 years from now, people look at your criticism of the “crazies” and label you as a nitwit?

I’m not saying you should accept everything willingly, but if there is even a slight support from rationality to a certain belief, how can you (at this limited point of time) determine whether it works or not?

*if anyone reading this blog is a psychic/ knows a psychic, please assist me in the understanding of your practice. I’m always eager to learn about alternative forms of knowledge. Remember, once Science was also seen as an evil witch craft – people were burned at the stakes for believing in it!

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*if you want to watch a very interesting movie related to this topic, watch Mr Nobody 🙂

To Escape

“Why don’t you come away with me, my Love? We’ll do what it takes, I’ll keep you safe. Why don’t you stay by me? When the time comes, we’ll escape…” –The Kongos: Escape

LOST VALENTINE

There’s something about war-time romances. In a certain quite macabre way it’s everyone’s ideal dream even though they wouldn’t want to live through it.

In a song by the Kongos, “Escape”, the perfect love story is told. Bombs are bursting in the air; rockets illuminate the sky; the fabric of social existence is wrought out… And yet, these two lovers experience the most dramatic, most meaningful time of their lives. The singer says “We’ll do what it takes; I’ll keep you safe”.

warThe truth is, they probably won’t stay safe. And they probably couldn’t do what it takes. Because the odds are against them.

It becomes clearer then, that our romantic “idealism” is especially twisted. Instead of the ideal being perfect, we draft images and scenes of a dramatic yearning that cannot be fulfilled in our lifetime. In a sense, then, our idealism regarding war-time romance borders more on reality than utopia.

Need this false ‘idealism’ be a bad thing? No.

If it is reality and drama we want in a relationship, then don’t we get exactly what we hoped for? To experience the whole spectrum of emotions: from anger, to sadness, to regret, to happiness. To be a more fulfilled person.

Truth is, we want to battle. If you have too much love; if you are too happy, you are (strangely enough) not happy; not fulfilled. Just as in a war time romance, you want to feel that the person you’re with will want to see it through to the end with you even if that means a lot of (internal) destruction may lie in your paths. And in that strange dichotomy lies the true nature of our idealism – circumstances shouldn’t be perfect; the person shouldn’t be perfect; the ‘perfection’ lies in trying to make it through anything.

In a sense, we want to ‘escape’ into reality; live though it; fight through it. Why fight fighting?

Beyond thinking?

I did not watch the whole of this video as I do not have enough cap, but in the 5mins that I watched, I felt unsettled. In the video it says something like “never have we thought so much and never has there been this much turmoil”. This is not actually true. My philosophy lecturer once told us that the past 100 years have actually been the most peaceful in all of human history. So it seems as if the correlation between thinking and peace is actually positive (contrary to what the video is displaying). I acknowledge the fact, however, that we also have to feel, but I really think it’s a bad idea to lose the balance and ONLY feel without thinking. Thinking and feeling = Yin and yang. Don’t discourage people from thinking. It’s propagandistic.

Known is a drop, Unknown is an Ocean

Another absolutely beautiful and amazing video to go beyond thinking…

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