This story I wrote for Leadership magazine could well be made into a film. Every now and then a story grips you emotionally, even as a supposedly dispassionate journalist. The oppression of Thembekile Molaudzi is such a story.
Just over a year ago, the editor at Leadership magazine asked me to cover Molaudzi’s release from prison after having spent 11 years incarcerated for a crime he did not commit.
History tells us that the capitalist, industrialised, consumer culture of 20th century Europe is exceptionally powerful. Countries never seem to turn their back on it. But how much do we know of its dark side?
First of all, let me say I am really grateful for modern life. My kids get vaccinated; I can communicate with you on the Internet; eat interesting food from around the world; and generally live a more comfortable, cleaner, and safer life than even the kings of old.
But I was reading this piece from famed New York Times columnist, David Brooks, and it struck me that for all our comforts, for all our affluence, we have given up a great deal.
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.
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.