Chris Waldburger

Author Archives: Chris Waldburger

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

“We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty.” GK Chesterton
hero with a 1000 faces

I have been overwhelmed by the response to yesterday’s post. I don’t think we realise how we all go through the same experiences and fight the same battles.

I think that’s the reason we like those novels and films concerning survivors of shipwrecks and the like. When the survivors emerge on the beach, they realise they now have a bond, they owe each other a loyalty. In the words of Jack Shepherd, the main character of ‘Lost’ (the chief inspiration for which was Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”), either they live together or they will die alone.

This resonates with us because in fact we are, in our real lives, survivors of a cosmic shipwreck. We know, deep in our bones, that something has gone wrong with this world. We all fight a war. And so we have a certain loyalty to each other: to be sympathetic, to tell our stories, to have patience.

Getting so many responses this morning to my previous post reminded me of some of the reading I have been doing to prepare for a series of lessons I am about to give to my high school students. Continue reading

Every Man Fights His Own War

‘Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.’ Carl Jung

wedding

This post is my attempt to make sense of my life over the past few years. One fateful night in Gauteng four years ago would change me forever by casting a shadow over how I view the world. Yet in that shadow, I have found great meaning.

One of my favourite films of all time is The Thin Red Line. (Check out the trailer at the end of this post.)

It is about war, obviously. But it goes deeper than simply recounting World War II heroics, in the manner of Saving Private Ryan. (Both films would be nominated for Best Picture Oscars in 1999, and both would lose to Shakespeare in Love.)

Instead, the film meditates on the relationship between the soul, good and evil, and one’s friends and enemies.

Why is there even the possibility of war in the first place? Continue reading

It Ain’t Over till It’s Over

South Africans aren’t done yet.

Wayde van Niekerk

Four years ago, I wrote the piece below for the Mercury, a daily newspaper in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.

It was written in the afterglow of Chad le Clos’s defeat of Michael Phelps to win his first Olympic gold, and Ernie Els’s stirring come-from-behind victory in golf’s British Open.

Re-reading this, after the inspirational performances of the likes of Wayde van Niekerk, Caster Semenya, Sunette Viljoen, Luvo Manyonga, and Cameron van der Burgh at the Rio Olympics, the note it sounds still rings true.

Beneath all the problems of South Africa, the mismanagement of state bodies (including the shambolic Athletics South Africa among others), and the corruption, our country is not down and out. We keep picking ourselves up off the canvas.

The recent election results show people still want to fight for their country. Olympic sport is just sport, yes, but the love for country it shows is real and echoes beyond the arena.

That echo is a reminder that beyond the headlines and the politics, the dream is still alive. Continue reading

Why I Love the Stumbling Boks

Struggling to win is glorious.

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There is a lot of pessimism about the rugby Springboks at the moment – not all of it unfounded.

No longer can we bash the likes of Ireland and Argentina over. We have to struggle for every win. The Bulls template no longer works. It is all about skill in getting out of your half and then holding onto the ball on attack with offloading and quick recycling.

And that’s hard for our players, raised on a diet of schoolboy koppestamp on the platteland. For decades we believed our ultra-competitive schoolboy game was our biggest asset. Now it is a liability, because all our young players learn how to play ultra-conservative rugby without much freedom to express themselves and take risks. Continue reading

The ANC Will Die

The only question is when.

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Liberation movements do not generally survive. This will also be true of the ANC.

I recently read Albert Luthuli’s autobiography, Let My People Go, which detailed this moral titan’s involvement in the struggle.

Intriguingly, Luthuli did not believe the ANC would one day govern South Africa. He was of the opinion that the ANC would have to form smaller political parties out of the various ideological factions which were working together under their auspices.

He constantly refers to the ANC as ‘Congress’, as though it were a parliament for the struggle rather than a government-in-waiting. Continue reading

Going from Zero To One, or Rising from the Dead

Life’s about having your own secret.

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Peter Thiel is an interesting guy.

He was one of the founders of PayPal, the first ‘angel investor’ of Facebook, and he has recently been in the news for two things: Giving a speech endorsing Trump, and funding Hulk Hogan’s major law suit against Gawker as revenge for invading his privacy and discussing his homosexual orientation.

On top of this, he is currently throwing money at ways of discovering biological immortality, and he also pays young entrepreneurs not to go to university (which he believes is a scam).

This makes him an intriguing, if not somewhat sinister public figure!

But I find him interesting for three separate reasons. Continue reading

Forget Politics

If South Africa is to have any hope in the future, we are going to need a lot more political apathy.

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“It is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects—military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life.

“A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden—that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time.”

So wrote CS Lewis in his classic, ‘Mere Christianity’.

For so many people, politics has become a kind of tribalism. A way of finding your identity. Continue reading

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