We Are All to Blame For the Springboks’ Demise

How we all contributed to our slow slide into mediocrity.

I don’t believe in collective guilt.

But every now and then, there is a time to recognise we are all somewhat complicit in something going bad – in this case, Springbok rugby.

So how can we all possibly have done something ourselves to get to the point of having to watch Damian de Allende potter around a rugby field while making millions?

Why Virtually Everybody Believes in God

…Whether they know it or not.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of the modern age is that as modern people we imagine ourselves to be these neutral, rational observers of truth.

We think we understand everything because we have mastered nature to a hitherto unknown degree. We imagine ourselves to have stripped away the filters and falsities of mythology and superstition.

This is what we mean by the word ‘secular’. In a secular world, any religious or even metaphysical thought must always be seen as some kind of optional extra, a lifestyle choice, which certainly has no bearing on our common life together, like an irrational desire to collect stamps or coins.

But to imagine ourselves in such a world is simply naïve.

Why We All Need A Story

Without a narrative, how do you make your way through the trials and storms of life?

Our lives today generally don’t follow a grand narrative. Very few of us imagine ourselves as having a destiny or a fate. Nor do we understand our lives as part of something bigger than ourselves. For most people, nations, churches, and big organisations have lost their credibility.

Instead, we want the freedom to construct our own identities, and to alter that construction as we move through life – just as we create ‘personal brands’ on Facebook and Instagram.

Living in the Future; Making the ANC Irrelevant

‘Don’t worry darlin’, now baby don’t you fret/ We’re livin’ in the future and none of this has happened yet.’ So sang Bruce Springsteen. In the spirit of the Boss, it’s time to live in the future, and not let the bastards keep us down.

I am tired of hearing about the ANC presidential race, as their destruction of SAA, education, public trust etc, continues unabated. When you’re on the Titanic, the name of the captain is not highly relevant.

One thing I am convinced of: the ANC, because of its inherent ideology of ‘party first’, has no mechanism of reform. It will crumble – the only question is what it takes down with it.

In other words, for the few remaining patriots out there, the fight for the future of the country must not be fought on the turf of the ANC. Instead, a creative minority of non-partisans must begin solving our country’s problems outside of the world of political parties.

What would such a future look like?

Why South Africa needs as much elite education as possible

Every time a multi-millionaire spends a ridiculous amount on private schooling, we should all applaud.

Why South Africa needs as much elite education as possible

Every year, somebody posts on Facebook how much South Africa’s most expensive schools cost, and people, as is their wont, take glee in expressing outrage that our country has lots of wealthy people in it willing to spend massive amounts on schooling.

And every year, I wonder why the same outrage is not directed against people shopping at Woolworths, buying their own car or house, or going to private hospitals.

The reason why is fairly clear, I think – we all recognise how powerful a quality education is. And thus we fear elitism in education more than in any other sphere.

But that’s exactly the wrong attitude to have – elitism in education is not only necessary, but desirable.

Five Books to Understand the Modern World Part Two: ‘Cry, the Beloved Country’

“I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving, they will find that we are turned to hating”: Alan Paton as South African prophet.

This is the second post in the series Five Books to Understand the Modern World. For the first installment on ‘Lord of the Flies’ go here.

It’s probably not fashionable any more to be a fan of ‘Cry, the Beloved Country’. It does not call for revolution. It is primarily spiritual, rather than political. It is written by a white man.

Yet – no other book I have ever read captures so accurately the agony of South Africa and the stubborn sense of hope symbolised by our land’s beauty, and thus remains almost prophetically relevant to every passing year of our country’s fairly morbid story.

I would go so far as to say this book should be compulsory reading for every school-going child in the country. And therefore it heartily deserves its spot in my top five list of books you need to read to get a grip on what is going on all around us.

Five Books to Understand the Modern World Part One: ‘Lord of the Flies’

‘Lord of the Flies’ is a book so many of us read in high school, and completely misunderstood. But if we spend a little more time with it, it tells us something powerful about our society, and ourselves.

Over the next few weeks, I am going to look at my recommended list of books to read to help you understand what is going on in South Africa and the world. All of them are fiction – not because I don’t love non-fiction too, but because I think the most powerful way to understand culture is to know its stories…

‘Lord of the Flies’ was written in the aftermath of World War II and at the beginning of nuclear tension between Russia and America, and the slow fading of Britain as a world and colonial power.

We all think we know what it means: a bunch of schoolboys are stranded on an island and, without civilization, they quickly descend into savagery.

Having crashed on a deserted island full of fruit and wild pig, they begin with sensible ideas to build shelter, elect a leader, hold a parliament with the power of speaking only given to whomever holds ‘the conch’, and set a signal fire.

By the end they are a tribe of painted savages, performing human sacrifice, murder, and acts of terrorism, demonstrating that little boys without adults are evil little critters and thus need supervision to keep them in line.

That’s somewhat true, as far as it goes, but the author, William Golding, was definitely not praising the glories of adult civilization, nor is he trying to communicate some kind of idea about ‘boys being boys’.

Trump is just as popular today as he was on Election Day

Watching CNN over the weekend led me to believe that Trump is a Nazi and is about to be overthrown. Then why on earth does polling in the US show he is just as popular as he was the day he was elected? What is going on?

Trump is just as popular today as he was on Election Day

Respected research organisation, National Journal, has released data that show the media’s coverage of the Charlottsville white supremacist march as being insane at best, nefarious at worst.

First of all, a sizable majority of Americans want old Civil War statues to be maintained – including 44 per cent of black Americans. And 43 per cent of Americans agree that Trump was right to point out that the so-called ‘antifa’ or ‘alt-left’ movement, which counter-protested the white supremacist, also contributed to violence. (It must be remembered that the ‘antifa’ have not killed anybody…)

Most tellingly, Trump is still viewed favourably by almost 40 per cent of America, which is the same number as just before the election. (It seems polling companies don’t have the phone numbers of people who vote Trump, Brexit etc.) In fact, as terrorists continue to create distrust and fear in public places in Europe, it is likely that Trump’s ‘America First’ rhetoric will probably become more popular.