1577872978_10dac8bfd6

It started with a simple set of questions… “Dad, what are people doing? Why don’t they want other people to marry? Why don’t they do anything about global warming? Why are they always fighting?”

How do I tell her? How. Do. I. Tell. Her?

1001, 1002, 1003, die… 1004, 1005, 1006, dead…

How do I tell her that every 3 seconds a child dies from something that we could’ve stopped? From hunger. From not enough food. From not having an apple. Or clean drinking water. Or just a little porridge in the morning. That we have it in our power to stop it if we want. But we choose not to. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that our friends can’t marry because some people just hate their love too much? That love is sometimes not enough. That caring for each other is not what everyone else thinks should be. That the insecurities of the heart and soul of others drive hate instead of seeing the love. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that some people talk freedom but don’t believe in it? That freedom is freedom even if we don’t like what others do or say. That freedom to marry. Freedom to love. Freedom to see the love of your life die in hospital. That these freedoms are killed by bigots every day. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her the pursuit of happiness is denied for most? That it’s a lie that we are told by so many who deny the happiness of others. That justice, equality and liberty is claimed by many but believed and practiced by few. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her people believe in carrying guns that kill but don’t believe in caring for love? That it’s okay to defend the right to carry a weapon of hatred in your holster but not love in your heart. That it’s okay to defend the right to carry that gun but not the right to love? How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that I don’t know what our earth will look like in her future? That maybe we are killing this world of ours with our greed and want. That wanting, buying, driving, wearing, making, living, eating too much and all those things we do might be killing our world slowly. So slowly that we argue while the pot is starting to boil. Like frogs we are killing ourselves slowly. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that most people don’t really believe in human rights? That they speak of it as if they care and are willing to fight for it and die for it. But that they will deny others those same human rights. Their right not to be tortured. Their right to marry. Their right to choose. Their right to believe and love who they want. They deny it all. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that people are willing to let their fellow Americans die. That they can stop it but they choose to look the other way and walk away? That a public option will save lives but some of us are too selfish and scared and would rather offer up American lives. American blood. All because they don’t care to care. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that so many men carry hate in their hearts. They rape. They kill. They take away. That these are men we see and know. But we don’t see and we don’t know. That it’s okay to love the world. But be careful with who you trust. They will hurt you if they can because we know of those who are dead and missing. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her to not trust the man who speaks of God because they use and abuse His name? That they will hate in His name. That they will lie in His name. That they will give Him different names and still be full of hate and lies. That the hate and lies is preached by bigots claiming every religion – Christian, Jew, Hindu, Muslim – you name it. That it’s okay to love God but to not trust those who speak in His name. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that there are mad men in caves wanting to kill a dream? That there are enemies everywhere willing to take lives. Innocent lives. And that we live in so much fear that we are willing to do the same as them. We are willing to let innocent people die because of our own fears. That we play into the hand of the warmongers with our weakness of fear. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her all this and so much more? Racism. Discrimination. Child labor. Obesity. Diseases. Sexism. And all this stuff waiting out there in the world. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her all this? How do I tell her that if we all just wasted a little less. Wanted a little less. Cared a little more. Believed a little more. Loved a little more. Spoke out a little louder. Did a little more…

How do I tell her that I see the faces of those kids dying? I know their names in my dreams. That they are my kids. Our kids. Not a number. Her kids.

How do I tell her that I feel the love of my friends being denied? That I only feel threatened because they are being denied the right to love and live in love the way I do? They they are not gay. That they are me. They are her.

How do I tell her I believe in freedom? That it’s worth fighting for even when others are trying to kill it with their freedom-my-way-or-no-way lies and bigotry and double standards. That I fight for the rights for all because I fight for her rights.

How do I tell her I don’t believe in guns? That I hate guns. That guns have killed in my family. That I will still defend those who want the right to have a gun. But that I expect them to fight and defend the right of my friends to love just as hard. That those rights are all hers.

How do I tell her that I don’t know everything about global warming? That I don’t know the science that well. But that I know that it’s better to be safe than sorry. That I will fight for this planet because it is all we have. The only one we have. It’s all I can give her. This little planet in the middle of nowhere is her planet.

How do I tell her that human rights means we have to give it to everyone? To those who are like us. Who love like us. Who live like us. Who believe like us. And those who don’t believe like us. Don’t want to be us. That human rights means we take the higher road and don’t torture. That human right means we allow everyone to be treated the same way we are treated. In love and in marriage. And that I will speak out and fight for those rights. Every single day until we all have it. Because it is her rights.

How do I tell her I believe in justice, equality and liberty? That I believe it is fundamental to who we are and how we want to live. Even though other say it but don’t live it or truly believe it through action. That I will fight for her to have justice. That I will stand up for her to have equality. And I will defend her liberty. Because justice, equality and liberty are hers.

How do I tell her that I don’t want these Americans we live with to die? That I want them to live. I want to help look after them. I want them to have an option to get looked after when they are sick. And that the only option for them is a government option. That I have not option but support an option that will let Americans live. Because I believe that Americans are good. And that it is our duty to love them and respect them and help look after them. Because we are them. American health is her health.

How do I tell her not all men are bad? That there are good men out there. Men who love and care. Men we can trust. And that it’s worth trusting and finding the men we can believe in and trust. That we men will fight those who hurt. Because these are her men.

How do I tell her that God is good? That it is okay to believe and not be part of the lies told by those who claim Him – no matter what they call Him. That God is good and God is love. That I will fight for Him and claim Him back from those who use and abuse His name. Who lie and spread hate in His name. Because He is her God.

How do I tell her not to fear the mad man in the cave or anyone else who lives to hate? That fear is not what makes us who we are. That love makes us who we are. That the love we have is stronger than the hate of others. That love should never be seen as a weakness. Because I will fight for it. Because this love is her love. My love for her. My gift to her. Love.

How do I tell her that when I am alone in my thoughts… On the bus. Running. In a hotel. Flying. That I cry inside when I am alone. And sometimes I cry on the outside for all these strangers to see. Thinking of this. Knowing that I don’t know what we are doing. That I don’t know what we are leaving for her tomorrow. For her future. Her world. I just don’t know.

I don’t know what world she will inherit from us. I don’t know what world we will leave behind. For her. And for her kids.

But I do know that I will fight for what I believe in. I will fight for her rights. Her right to love, believe, be free, have no fear, carry a gun, marry who she wants. her right to be herself. My big angel. Because I love her. And it’s all I can give her.

I want to tell her that the world is full of good people. That every single day I work with people who make this world a little better. One step at a time. Sometimes small but always forward. I want to tell her we will fight the good fight. Every single day. There are more of us than what the world might think. And we are strong. And we will never give up.

I want to tell her I do what I do because of her. That I see her face when I work. I see her face when I fight for what is right. I see her face when I live my life. It drives me. I want to leave her a world to be proud of. I want to leave her a dad to be proud of.

But I don’t. I don’t tell her any of this…

I take her hand and we dance on a Saturday. I joke with her and I tickle her. I play with her and I tease her. I help her with her homework and I say I’m proud of her great work. I have fun with her and walk her to the bus stop. I hang out with her and watch Harry Potter with her. I lie watching music videos with her and write silly stuff to her on Facebook. Sometimes we talk about Madiba or God and space-time limitations. Or science and mathematics. Geography or food. Even a little bit of serious stuff like politics and rights. And then I talk to her about crazy silly things and give her my books to read. I pull her finger and burp as loud as I can. I go mess up her bed and chase her around. I just do the things a crazy silly stupid dad is meant to do. Because she is my girl. My oldest girl. My big angel. And I’m just her dad. That’s all I want to be. The cool guy who loves her more than life.

She is my Ubuntu. I am because we are.

So I don’t tell her. But I know. I know we have to fix this world to make it ready for her. She deserves nothing less. She is perfect. She needs a perfect world.

We’ve got work to do. My big angel is coming and I’ve got a world to clean and get ready…

Advertisements
It's a fight for my freedom to love...

It's a fight for my freedom to love...

I am pissed. Really pissed. I can’t believe that another piece of bigotry was allowed to be written into law. By those pseudo liberals from California. Actually, those pseudo people from California. No Californification for you then.

I mean really. Get off it. Let people love who they want to love. Why can’t you live with that? Why can’t two people who love not marry each other? Sorry. I guess you don’t believe in a happy marriage and would rather continue with the “woman barefoot in the kitchen” style fake love marriage you have. How about those pregnant teenagers then hey? Or the wife beating? Like the child abuse going around?

Actually, that is unfair. That can happen to anyone. But my point is that marriage is nothing sacred to protect for a group of men and women partners only. Really. What the hell is so sacred about it? This country gets divorced left right and centre. We have loveless marriages. We have arranged marriages. We have rape in marriage. We have child abuse in marriages. We have all this crap in marriages.

And none of that can be blamed on gays! You stupid… argh! You did that. Not me. And not my friends. You killed marriage. With your stupidity and superiority complex of failure and violence. Dip…

You know what? I love my wife. More than life itself. And I look around me and see very few marriages actually working. And guess what? Those marriages where people actually focus on each other and how much they love each other? They don’t give a damn what you call it or who else are allowed to get married. As long as (i) you don’t f*ck with their marriage and (ii) you have a chance of having the same love as they have. We want people to get married for love because we want to save the idea of being married.

Dammit…

Let my people marry!

Clean your own house. Clean your own church. Clean your own crap before you tell other people what they can or cannot do. This is how we get into trouble each and every bloody time. Someone somewhere deciding that their way is the only way and let’s go plant a bomb / start a war / execute someone / torture a few people / etc. Look inside and fix that you stupid… argh… I promised my wife I won’t swear.

No one is telling you who you should marry. No one is telling you what you should do. So shut the hell up about other people. Okay…

Let’s play this game.

You are not allowed to have a sense of fashion. You are not allowed to be happy. You are not allowed to smile and laugh. You are not allowed to be gay – in the smiling and laughing way I mean. You are not allowed to be flamboyant. You are not allowed to be an actor. You are not allowed to watch a movie with ANY gay actors or characters. You are not allowed to love.

We’ll leave that for us. You have your stinking marriage and put it where the sun don’t shine. You can kill marriages like you have done over the last 1,000 years and more. But you can’t kill love.

Let there be love. Let there be love…

Today I hope that my daughters will one day be gay. This way they stand a better chance of finding true love and see true tolerance in life.

Take your marriage and go flush it down the toilet like you have done since you “owned” it. You are killing it but you can never kill love. That’s what we have to offer. We didn’t plan on killing your holy marriage. You didn’t even know it but we are here to save the concept of marriage. To let two people who love each other make a lifetime commitment to each other. Respect each other. Honor each other. Love each other. Always…

You are flushing away the chance of saving this beautiful practice of marriage. Because you covered your eyes with your blinkers of hate. Well done. I hope you are proud. But not as loud or proud as us.

May God be ashamed of you and what you stand for.

I know I am. And I am bloody “straight”. You are not one of me. You don’t represent me. You don’t represent what my marriage stands for. You never have and never will.

My marriage is one of love. Somehow you just don’t get that.

The right to love. The right to marriage. It’s basic human rights.

It’s simple. You’re stupid.

Now go and leave us alone.

You know what I am really afraid of? That my own marriage and right to love will be next. That this limitation on marriage threatens my marriage. You never know when or where bigots will stop. Their history tells me they won’t stop anywhere we would think they would stop. Guantanamo Bay – they did this. Torture – they did this. Iraq – they did this. It’s always them. Those who look at others and find ways to hate and discriminate. Who forget to love and live first. This fight for my friends to marry the one they love is a fight for my right to stay married to the one I love. And a fight for my daughters to marry someone who will love them the way I love their mother. With no strings attached. Just pure and perfect love. I am fighting for my wife and my daughters. For their happiness. And their life. This fight is my fight. Our fight. A fight for a life of love.

Let there be love.

Dammit. Liberty, justice, freedom and equality for all.

Just add love…

To you bigots out there. Here is a nice little song for you. From the bottom of our hearts…

______________________

To Vanessa, Mark, Randy, Steve and all my friends. I am sorry. I am truly deeply sorry. But I will never give up this fight. Never ever. We beat Apartheid and we’ll beat this crap as well. Remember: Justice, equality, freedom and liberty ALWAYS wins. We are right. We will overcome. We will win. Today is just a little bump in the road. Tomorrow we fight again. We will not be defeated. We might lose a battle but never the war.

pw_botha

This is going to be a long post – sorry. But it is about two people I met that made me rethink my definition of what evil might be. Two guys I always thought were the definition of evil. But I met them both briefly (and “stalked” one) and that made me question the meaning of evil. So I have to tell you about them to get to my story. Sorry – be patient. You know I am not into short blogs in any case!

———————————–

The Big Crocodile (1991):

One of the most evil men in the history of South Africa was PW Botha – Pieter Willem Botha. He was the last Prime Minister of the Apartheid Regime – and their first President of power. Oh man he was bad, bad news. Under his “command” more than 2,000 people died at the hand of the “security forces” (Security? As if they were protecting anything valuable). And more than 25,000 people were detained without being charged and often tortured (this last one sounds oddly familiar to recent US policies – except for the number of people). While he was Prime Minister in South Africa he also started the South African secret nuclear weapons programme with Israel and established the notorious police counter-insurgency unit – Koevoet (Crowbar). Yes, he was bad, bad news.

He was a racist to the core. Here, read this and see what you think. In his own words, “Blacks look like human beings and act like human beings do not necessarily make them sensible human beings. Hedgehogs are not porcupines and lizards are not crocodiles simply because they look alike. If God wanted us to be equal to the Black, he would have created us all of a uniform colour“. I hope you don’t need more convincing that PW stood for “Pure White” or “Pretty Wretched”.

He wasn’t just a racist and killer though. He was also a coward. Of sorts. He started his career by supporting the South African Nazi movement in WWII. But then changed his mind when he saw that they were going to lose. So he is cowardly in his warped convictions as well. Just a bad man all together. As evil as you can get. But to the Afrikaners who supported him during Apartheid – he was their bread and Botha. He meant everything to them because he kept them in power. And kept them “safe and seperate”. With a strong hand on the rifle. Of course you won’t find any of them today. It’s like asking the school class who had the “accident” in the bathroom – no one is willing to admit that it was them in public.

We called him “Groot Krokodil” in South Africa. Meaning Big Crocodile. Mostly because he will take a bite at everything and his skin was as thick as the skin of a crocodile. And he was pretty ugly as well. Just like a crocodile. We didn’t shed any crocodile tears when he died on 31 October 2006. No tears for him. He was a bad dream from our past. A past we didn’t want to be reminded of. And I met the man. Briefly. But I was also a bit of a stalker in my own way.

My wife’s father used to own a local car dealership in the town close to where Groot Krokodil lived. And he used to come and buy a new car there every few years. And with our luck we were there when he came the last time. My wife was working at the garage during the university break and I came up to visit her. And I worked at the garage as well. Worked at the forecourt – or petrol pumps. Yes, he owned both a car dealership and a gas station. All I did was sit in the forecourt and enjoy the scenery. Filling up cars as they came back from the beach or taxis taking people home. It was fun. I sat outside in the summer sunshine and enjoyed working there. I got to see my future wife often enough – and that was a major bonus.

I went inside to say hello – she was working the telephones. And we hang out – not to make out. Not with her dad there! I had my own nickname for him – but not for public consumption! He is an unbelievably nice guy. I really love and like him. Good guy who always pulls the mickey out of me. Hey, I took him to his first Bruins game (and mine) when they came to visit. But, again, I digress.

I was hanging out with her when he walked in. PW. He was old. Really old. This was back in December 1991. The ANC was unbanned and Mandela was free – but we were still negotiating the terms of our new democracy. It sounds odd – the terms of our democracy. But back then the Apartheid ruling party, the National Party, still believed that democracy was too good to share with everybody. PW wasn’t in charge anymore. He suffered a mild stroke in January 1989. He resigned as leader of the National Party in February, hoping that his hand-picked man will take over. But the National Party elected FW de Klerk as the National Party leader in February and as President in March. PW Botha refused to go. Typical. But by August he was completely alienated and forced to go. Oh man, you should have heard his speech. It was full of hatred for everyone – especially those in the National Party leadership. But he was history by now. A few months later FW would free Nelson Mandela and unban the ANC. PW was a bitter old man by the time he walked into the dealership.

He came in to service his car. My future wife and I walked into my father-in-law’s office and we walked right into PW. They knew how I felt about this guy so there was no way we were going to hang out with him! My father-in-law introduced us and PW started asking my future wife what she was studying. He studied at the same university as us when he was young – Stellenbosch University. My wife looked at him and gave him a little knowing smile (her I-dare-you-to-go-there smile). And then she said slowly, “Political Science”. He blinked and pulled his head back even further – as if he smelled something bad. He stared at her for a little while and then said quietly, “Another cat amongst the pigeons”.

I knew that look in my future wife’s eyes. It was a challenge. A challenge saying – come-on-you-want-some-of-this? You think I am the Angry African? Ha. Don’t piss her off. She is the tough one. I knew that it was time to get her out. He was an old old man. And a stupid man. An easy target. And he would underestimate her and get his backside kicked. So I made my excuses and got her out of there. But it wasn’t the end of me and PW.

I knew where he lived. Every now and again we would drive there and stop a bit down the road where he lived in a quiet dead-end road. Dead-end road made sense for a dead-end human being. And I would wait in that car to see him come out for his daily walk. Security police and all. Him, his wife and their dogs. Little brakkies en mat-kakkers. Little dogs – useless dogs for a guy like him. And we’ll sit in the car and stare at this old man, his wife and their dogs walking down the road. He was getting really old now. Walking with a walking stick and slowly moving along. Playfully patting the dogs and his wife with his walking stick. Like any old man just taking a walk knowing that it is one of those last pleasures left in life. Just an old man walking the dogs and loving his wife with the sun shining on his back. He wasn’t much of a crocodile anymore. Just a slow shuffle of a walk like a wounded crocodile trying to get back into the water. But a toothless one.

The Guguleto 7 (2002):

We were down at the beach at Betty’s Bay with our friends. They had a place there. Or rather, her dad had a place there that they used. We had fun. The girls were playing on the beach looking for shells and playing in the little pools. We had a few beers and some crayfish and a braai. It was fun. Just the perfect weekend. Away from the craziness at work. Just the six of us hanging out and talking crap. Yes, Oosie and me knew how to talk crap. We were very different – me an activist and him a cop, but we could talk crap for hours and hours. Amuse ourselves with stories that just kept on piling up with the sh*t we spoke. My wife and his wife would just look at us and laugh at the nonsense we could talk without any signs of slowing down. But it was time to go and stock up. So we took a drive to Kleinmond (“Small Mouth” refering to the mouth of the river) – a town just a few miles down the road.

I love Kleinmond. I have good memories of it. My ouma (grandmother) used to live there and I remember going there to visit. And she used to make me roosterkoek (type of bread) on the open fire. She made the best roosterkoek ever. With butter from the farm melting as she took it off the fire and broke it open with her bare hands. I was young when she died. But I remember her. This fragile old woman who used to smell like fresh bread and hugged me when she gave me those roosterkoek. I loved my ouma. Again, I digress.

We drove into Kleinmond and bought our “things” (beer and… hum… more beer. Oh, and wood for the braai). Oosie decided to take us for a drive through town. Down to the beach area to show us where they fish. We drove slowly as there were loads of people hanging around. Oosiestopped the car as an older guy walked up to the car waving. He looked like a typical newly retired guy. A wide open friendly face with not a worry in the world. They spoke and laughed a bit about some guy they both know who got into trouble with the fisheries inspector again and shared news on how their families were doing. I was between Oosie and the guy leaning in the window talking. I can remember his face well. He had laugh lines all over his face. He looked like a guy I can sit and have a beer with. And share crap stories with. He had shorts, an open buttoned checked shirt, socks with sandals, and a fisherman’s hat on. Typical South African though – he had a paunch from the beer and meat – what we call a boep. He could be anyone’s dad. He just looked and sounded like a really good guy. A family man with friends and stories to share around the fire.

Oosie and the guy said goodbye and we drove off. Oosie knew my politics, but we hardly spoke about it. We didn’t share the same views on everything. But then, I never let politics alone define my relationships and friendships. If I did I would have very few friends left in this world. Anyway, Oosie was quiet for a bit while we drove off. After a bit he asked me whether I knew who the guy was. I said no – but obviously a friend of Oosie’s family. He looked at me and said, “He was in charge of the Guguleto 7 hit squad”. Oh man, it was like a ton of bricks hit me. Stunned.

The Guguleto 7 were 7 guys from the ANC who got brutally murdered by the a secret police hit squad in South Africa in 1986. This police hit squad operated from a secret location called Vlakplaas. The most evil things happened there. Murder, executions, torture, rape – you name it and they did it. It was the centre of all things evil under Apartheid. The Guguleto 7 were ANC supporters who got lured in by the hit squad and were brutally murdered. For ANC supporters (including myself) the Guguleto 7 became a rallying cry for the murdering of our people to stop. It united people against Apartheid. And hardened the resistance to Apartheid. And this guy was in charge of the hit squad who murdered the Guguleto 7. He was what I saw as the epitome of evil. Leading a hit squad. And now I knew who he was.

That was the problem. I thought he was a good guy. Someone I can hang around with. Someone to sit with around the fire and share a few beers and talk crap. How do you hate someone you liked 5 minutes ago? But the same someone who you hated for 16 long years?

PW and the nameless monster (I never wanted to know his name). The two of them taught me a lesson on evil. People do evil, evil deeds. But somehow they still manage to look in the mirror and believe in themselves. Bigots yes. But they are not the woman beaters, serial killers, child abusers or rapist we think they are. Evil people are people who do the same things we do. They are never the obvious bad people that stand out in a crowd. Or who we hope they are. They love and live their lives in very similar ways we do. Talk crap with friends while having a beer around the fire. Taking their loved ones and the dogs for a walk. Loving their kids and wives and enjoying retirement. Enjoying the sunshine and open spaces. Evil people are normal people. They are around us and they are in us. You will walk past them in the streets without looking twice. They can sit on the other side of the table and you might never know. They can lean in and talk to you with a genuine smile on their face. And that makes it hard to hate. And knowing that they live lives just like us. When you have met them and stalked them. And when you have liked them. That makes it difficult. How do they do it? How do they sleep at night and still laugh and love. How do they do it when they do the things they do? And how do we hate them when we see their other side? It’s not that easy…

I knew the grandson of PW. I knew him before I knew who his grandfather was. He was at university with me and although not an activist we still shared friends and good times. And even when I knew who his grandad was it didn’t change our relationship. Just every now and again I would rant against PW and his evil ways and he would go quiet and say in a whisper, “But he is still my grandad”. That’s the thing. We can hate the sin. We must hate the sin. But it is difficult to hate the sinner. Especially if you know them and have seen them live their lives the way we all do. It takes a special person to hate those they know. Evil. Evil is evil. But just not always expressed the way we expect or hope.

I don’t know. I don’t know much about handling evil. But I know we walk with crocodiles everyday. We just don’t always know it. And they don’t always look like crocodiles.

 

I come from a country where people were jailed because all they wanted was to be treated as equals.

I come from a country where people were killed because they didn’t agree with policies of hatred.

I come from a country where people were thrown in jail never to be charged – because the government could.

I come from a country where we gave up our liberties because of a false belief that it made us safer.

I come from a country where our true leaders were said to be terrorists because they dared to stand up for those who could not stand up for themselves.

I come from a country where the government controlled the media through lies and deception.

I come from a country where the media didn’t tell us the truth because they feared the government more than what they loved the truth.

I come from a country were our leaders told us and taught us more about hate than about hope.

I come from a country where the church walked hand in hand with those who were the perpetrators of oppression.

I come from a country that tortured those who didn’t agree with us all in the name of national security and fear.

I come from a country where we were told that anyone with a black skin or skin with a different shade than pink were somehow different from us and not one of us.

I come from a country where people who disagreed with the government in the mildest of ways were told that they were traitors.

I come from a country where we shouted “kill him” when we saw someone we thought didn’t look or think like us – even when they did.

I come from a country where fear controlled our every thought even though we never knew it.

I come from a country where history was rewritten to fit the story the government ideology wanted us to believe in.

I come from a country where we were our schools taught not science and facts but what the government and church wanted them to teach us.

I come from a country where information were kept from us because being kept in the dark kept our mouths shut.

I come from a country where we looked for blame elsewhere and not at the place where it was – in our homes and in our hearts.

I come from a country where we only allowed “freedom” to those who bowed to the power of government.

I come from a country where people with different sexual preferences were kept from being who they are – through laws and lies.

I come from a country where diversity were seen as threatening and not embraced as Gods way of making us all unique.

I come from a country where freedom was only given to those who looked and spoke and believed the same and not to those who were truly oppressed and discriminated against – women, gay and black South Africans.

I come from a country where we had elections but no one who mattered could vote or be voted for.

I come from a country where we believed that the opinions of those outside our borders did not matter.

I come from a country where we believed that no one but us were right and damn anyone who didn’t agree.

I come from a country where we believed we were in a democracy but we were just lying to ourselves.

I come from a country where the hatred we had for our fellow South Africans ruled our lives.

I come from a country where we created more enemies just so we could cling on to power we never really had.

I come from a country where we were divided and never united even though we called ourselves South Africans.

I come from a country where we didn’t have what you have.

Remember… Your are American. And you are because they are. How can you want other people to love and respect America if you can’t even love and respect yourself. Your own countrymen? You make America with your fellow Americans. You define it through your actions and through your words and through your thoughts. Be proud. Walk tall. Be true. Live in hope. Believe in each other. Create your dream. Make it real. Be Americans. And make America yours. Because who you are and what you do and what you say and what you think will define the America of tomorrow.

Don’t waste it. Make it count. Don’t be scared. Always seek the truth. Don’t believe the lies. But most of all. Most of all. Never, never ever hate your fellow Americans.

________________________________________

Everything that has been said over the last few days, weeks and months… This election. It made me think. Why? Why the hell do I even care? I can’t vote. I am not American. So why do I care apart from some warped idea that I live here and have some interest. Or that people I care for in this world will be affected by this election. I still shouldn’t get so worked up. It’s was only when I started looking back at my own country and the past that I remembered why… Hope. America represents hope. To me and to most people across this world. America is the hope we want to believe in. Hope of a better future. We just can’t see it right now.

 

It happened in 1995. The awakening…

I was driving back from Cape Town to my home in Stellenbosch. Part of my regular commute. I was working at the Labour Research Service (LRS) in Salt River on the outskirt of Cape Town. The rougher outskirts of Cape Town. The LRS was one of those small nonprofits that supported the trade unions and the liberation organizations during the Apartheid years. Apartheid ended, but the work never stopped. Workers still needed us. Discrimination still happened. And I was working with and for a Pan-Africanist trade union federation – the National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU). But I digress…

Driving this road was never a nice road. Just a week earlier my wallet got stolen by two guys. Some would call it stupidity on my behalf. You know, picking up hitch hikers. Or rather leaving my wallet open for them to take. I saw two guys hitch hiking and I decided to give them a lift. I used to hitch hike a lot myself. I knew how crap it was to stand in the road begging for a lift. Time running out. Cold winds. No sign of life outside those people sitting snug in their cars. Yeah, I gave them a lift. And they stole my wallet.

Oh, nothing happened to me. I had a habit of just throwing my wallet on the backseat whenever I drove anywhere. You know, just flip it on the backseat when I get in the car. Not thinking. Just a standard thing to do.

And I left it there without thinking. Like I always do. They took it without me even knowing. Or noticing. Oh they were nice guys. We had a good chat. Laughing and joking like all good South Africans do when they get close enough to poke fun at everyone and everything. I guess they saw my wallet as payment for the entertainment they provided. I don’t think they were that funny…

The money wasn’t much. I hardly ever have loads of cash on me. A minor inconvenience really. But it was a principle thing. You don’t steal. Full stop. So I decided to not pick up any more hitch hikers. Yes, unfortunately many people were going to stand a little bit longer because one dude in a car just got pulled off the assembly line of lift givers. I didn’t feel too crap about the decision. I made it and lived with it.

And now it was a week later. I was just driving me old car. Singing away to the Cat Steven tape that has been stuck in my radio since 1990. Yes. I know Cat Steven off by heart. Not because I wanted to or that I liked him that much, but because I couldn’t remove the bloody tape. It was stuck. And I just didn’t see spending the little money we had on fixing my car radio. Thank God the tape deck was one of those automatic switch-over gadgets. Or else I would have been stuck on the same side forever (Rewind-play, rewind-play…) So Cat Stevens it was.

The ride went smoothly. Like usual. Lost in my own little world. Not getting pissed off at anyone else on the road. Entertaining myself by singing out loud. Or making dancing moves in the car. Or pulling funny faces. Sometimes looking in the mirror to see if it was a good one or not. And sometimes just waving at people driving past me at a much faster speed.

And then I saw the guy. Hitch hiking. Just standing next to the road with his thumb sticking out. He looked like a typical hitch hiker. Normal clothes and a cap. No luggage. I didn’t pick him up. I didn’t even think of picking him up. The thought never crossed my mind. Not even for a minute.

So I drove on…

About a mile or two later I saw another guy with his thumb out. Hitch hiking. Just a normal guy. Normal clothes and a hat. No luggage. I looked at him as I approached and thought whether I should pick him up or not. Just for a split second. Nothing more than a split second. But I didn’t pick hm up. I drove past him without even looking. But for a split second… For a split second I thought about it…

I didn’t think about it for the next few miles. And then it hit me. Like a ton of bricks. Like someone just knocked me one hard one in the stomach. Cold water tipped over my head. Blood draining from my system…

Damn you! Damn me!

I am a racist…

And I didn’t even know it.

Why?

…The one guy was black… and the other guy was white…

I didn’t pick up either. But I did think of picking up the second guy. It never crossed my mind with the first on. Not even for a split second. Not even for a blink. Okay, it wasn’t a deep thought of picking the second guy up. It was only a flash for a split second. But still… That flash was a split second of thinking of picking the guy up. I rejected the idea immediately. But the point is that I did have a flash with the second guy and not the first guy.

So I am a racist.

Me. The guy who worked for the only pan-Africanist trade union federation in South Africa. The trade union federation who has never employed a white guy in their whole history up to then. A guy who fought the Apartheid system and all the discrimination that went with that. The guy who fought racism at each and every corner. The guy who saw Steve Biko as his man. I made no distinction between white or black. I hated racism. Banned it from even getting close to my kids. I had relationships that was never defined by race. I fought racism since I left my past behind. It has been the one thing that could get me going since my personal “liberation” started. I spoke out against it. Tackled people in the streets about it. I could look in the mirror and tell myself, “I am not a racist”. Hell, I even had a nickname given to me by NACTU – Umlungu (White bastard). I was drenched in anti-racism actions and fighting racism.

But here I was. A racist. And I didn’t even know it.

Which of the hitch hikers was white? Which one was black? What color was the guys I picked up and who stole my wallet? Does it matter? Is it relevant? Really? Isn’t that just justifying my racism? Isn’t that just shifting blame?

Racists. Easy to see. Racist are those people who are bigots. Or so we believe.

Racism. Easy to see. You’ll know it when you see it. Or so we believe.

No. Racists are not always that easy to see. It’s deeply rooted. It’s not something you just switch off. It hides in corners where you can’t see. It’s something you have to work on. You can overcome it. Racism is not part of the natural you. You weren’t born racist. But it is still deeply rooted like a weed when you grow up amongst racists and are taught the racist way when you are young. But it can be overcome. The more you open up. The more you talk about it. The more you look at yourself. The more you face the mirror.

It’s looking back each day and check on yourself. Looking in the mirror each day and ask yourself, “Was I just today?” And judging yourself not as a negative, but to look for those little hidden bigots inside you. And to fight them until they are out of your system. It’s something you should embrace.

Make no mistake. I am not hard on myself about this. I see this as a huge plus. Something I look forward to each day. To face that stupid bigot inside. And then laugh at him and to say, “Cheers, you are out of here”. Embrace it. And celebrate it. Because tomorrow I won’t do that. I won’t have that flash. Each day is about making it a little better.

I have managed to kill that racist inside. He is gone. No more. It feels good. But it’s not just race. It’s how we treat women. It’s how we treat the kids. How we look at the guy dressed in a hoodie, baseball cap and bling who looks like a gangster. How we stare at the women with the short skirt. It’s how we treat the guy begging in the streets. That gay couple down the road walking hand in hand. Or how we treat that person working behind the counter at Wal-Mart. It’s how we treat that worker in the factory. It’s how we treat the farmer in the fields. It’s everything we do. And it is in all of us. Black or white. Gay or straight. Men and women. We all have a little bigot or two inside us.

Bigotry is taught in different ways to us all. Those words our parent told us, “Study hard and you will get a good job. You don’t have to be caught in this life. You are better than this. You can do better than this.” That’s where it starts. When we start telling ourselves that somehow earning more money or having a bigger house make us better. Better than what?

Liberate yourself. Look at the mirror. Smile at the bigot. Because each day he is getting closer to extinction. Bye bye bigot. Death awaits you.

I like who I am. But I know I am going to like who I am tomorrow even more. And I can’t wait.

Are you? Because… I am because you are…

_________________________________

Why did I write this piece? Because of something I read in the NY Times. It’s not a perfect article, but it reminded me that blatant racism isn’t the problem. It’s the racism we don’t see. The hidden parts that people don’t even see. The bigotry we don’t see in ourselves. It just reminded me why I use the mirror every day.

This might just be the last blog I write about politics in America. I have written about Obama being the American Mandela, the burden of the hope he brings, and the man he is in his own right. But I don’t know anymore. I still believe in Obama, but I just don’t believe in American politics anymore. If this is how they want to play politics in America then I don’t want to play anymore. This is too sick. This is nothing to be proud of. My fleeting experience has made me question this thing they call American politics in an American democracy. Yes, they won – the cynics and morally corrupt. All of them – left, right and centre. This isn’t fun anymore. I don’t mind the comments on my blog. I have a thick skin. But if this election is what politics is all about in the US, then I don’t know if I have the stomach for it. This is just not right guys. This is not what people fought for and died for.

This is not the America I got to know and love over the last 18 months. This is not the people I have met. And I hope to God that this isn’t a reflection of how people outside the US see America. But they do. Because it goes out to everyone out there. You might not care. But I do. And so should you. Because when your President says he wants to bring democracy to people everywhere… this is what they see. And I can assure you. This is not something you want to export.

I just can’t believe that this is what politics has come to. What democracy has come to. I don’t agree with President Clinton and other politicians on the left, right and centre when they say, “That’s just politics“. No. That’s how you made politics. That’s the direction you have taken politics. You are the leaders of this great nation. And you should be ashamed of yourself. You should be ashamed in turning this great democracy into the laughing stock of the world. And you should be ashamed of not inspiring people to participate anymore. You are the reason for democracy failing in the US.

But it is not just the politicians. It’s the media. Slurping up everything that the politicians say. Or trying to spew hatred about every politician they don’t agree with. They don’t question policies. They don’t look into the future these political promises. No. They spew hatred about the mis(character) of potential leaders whether it is true or not. Or whether it is relevant or not. You should be ashamed of yourself. I thought you were here to inform people and be the guardians of this great democracy. But no. You don’t. You spew hatred and take no responsibility. You just sit back and laugh at the people – all the way to the bank.

It is no wonder people don’t want to vote. It is no wonder that young people feel that it is not worth it. They are still young enough to believe that politics should be about leadership, honor and truth. But they look up at “their” political leaders and all they smell is the foul smell of corrupt souls. People with vested interests. A city of sin where lobbyist outnumber politicians. And the lies they tell and the stories they spin. You should be ashamed of yourself for lying to the people of America. And especially for making the young people lose hope even before they truly start off in life. You cynics and liers are making cynics of those with hope in their hearts. You make the young people old before they should. You make them lose their hope and love for America. You kill the American Dream little bit bit little lie. You should be ashamed.

I can’t believe the character assassination taking place. Whether it is an attack on Hillary because she is married to Bill and stuck with him because of his sleeping around. Or McCain because he changes his opinion on issues the way we all do all of the time. Or Obama because a black man spoke from the heart about race and you attack him as racist. Look in the mirror and ask yourself who would be a leader that you can respect and look up to. Can you live with any of these three if you kill their character like this? When you show no respect – can you expect any back? You should be ashamed of yourself.

And to Hillary and Mac and Obama. You should be ashamed of yourselves. I know you try to be honorable. But you are not trying hard enough. You should act like the leader people need and not just the leaders they want. You should be clear and direct with any of your supporters or those who work for you when they attack the character of the other. Whether it is a twitter message (McCain), or racist (Hillary), or monsters (Obama). Be the leader people need. Because it has never been more important than now. People are losing hope. Losing hope in American politics. And you are not helping.

And to the Republicans and Democrats. To the left and the right. Be ashamed of yourself. You talk more about how you are different. Why you hate the other side – because they are gay, pro or anti abortion, because they are for or against immigration, because they are godless or too godly, because they are pro or anti big business, because they are pro or anti war. But you never talk about what makes this country great. You never talk about what makes you American. What makes you one. You just try and carve your little niche of hatred. And you know what? It just gives your enemies more reasons to hate you – because you are telling them everything that is wrong about America. Instead of telling them what is great about America. You should be ashamed of yourself.

I have seen corrupt leaders. Morally corrupt leaders. I come from South Africa and lived under Apartheid. And I have seen the hatred that politicians and their followers can create. And you are walking a fine line here. I see so many PW Botha’s walking around parading as politicians here in America. And I see the Dutch Reformed Church in many places of worship. And Die Burger in so many newspapers and televisions. But I have also seen great leaders. I have seen Mandela who we all know well. But I have seen leaders I don’t agree with who brought greatness to themselves. FW De Klerk. I didn’t like him, but he showed his greatness as a leader by making the difficult choices “his people” didn’t want to take. I don’t like McCain or Hillary – but they can show greatness without my support. It is up to them. They make the choice.

I have been here for 18 months. And I got to love this country called America. It was nothing like I expected. The people are great, great people. Warm, open and friendly. And hardworking. More than you can imagine. I see them behind the tills and at the gas stations. Those are the people who make you great. Those people who will fight your wars not because they believe in the war, but because that is what America does when one is hurt – they all stand up. These people who sweat blood and tears every single day to pay the mortgage and give their kids a chance in life. These are the people you lie to every day. It has not been the America I read about in books or seen in the movies. I have seen why this country is so great. Why you can be proud to be American. And you should be ashamed for not liking them and for lying to them.

But when it comes to politics I am not so sure. There is just too much hatred. This is the worse case of democracy I have seen anywhere. This is not how you convince the world that democracy works. This is the ugly underbelly of America. The moral corruption of democracy but the sick and twisted who wants to win above anything else. And the people I speak to in the streets and the shops don’t like what they see or what they hear. And the lies create so much white noise that they don’t know what to believe in anymore. They thought they saw greatness and then it was taken away from them by hate-speech and lies. You should be ashamed of yourself.

You set the example for all Americans. You want to know why they take drugs in baseball and football? Ask youself what kind of message you send when you tell people that everything goes as long as you win. You can lie and you can steal. As long as you win. What are you telling those who grow up? And those who should entertain us with pride in sport? You should be ashamed of yourself. You are corrupting America every single day.

But most of all, you should hang your head in shame for what you have done to the Founding Fathers of this great nation. They have sacrificed and fought for your freedom. They were not perfect. But they were honest. And they fought an honest fight. They gave you everything. And you spit in their face with your lies and twisted speech. Look in the mirror and ask yourself what they would think of you. What would they say if they saw what you do and what you say? And what you think. You should be ashamed for belittling what they fought for and died for. Thank God that you were never asked to sign the Declaration of Independence. Thank God you were not one of those Founding Fathers. Because America would not be if it was for you. Hang your head in shame. Your founding father and everyone who have died for America and lived for America will be ashamed of you. You do not “hold up”. You should be ashamed for even calling yourself American. You put this country to shame. Shame on you. You don’t deserve greatness because you don’t know what it means.

———————————-

I won’t be writing about American politics anymore. I will write about my life and my experiences. And I will write about what bugs me. I will write about anything and everything that comes to mind. But not about American politics anymore. You know I support Obama. But I don’t think America is ready for Obama. And sadly, I don’t think America deserves Obama. Not those Americans who play these games. They will drag him down the way they have dragged me down. And the America I know is greater than that. Should be better than that.

I am busy reading The Audacity of Hope. And sorry. I just don’t have that audacity… or that hope. He is a better and a bigger man than me. I just hope to God I am wrong and he is right. But I don’t know. I just don’t know.

Tomorrow is another day. And I will still be proud of living in this country. When I see those people working behind the counters and in the factories. Those good to honest hard-working Americans who have shown me their love and affection. Those Americans I have come to love. I just don’t want anything to do with American politics anymore. That is just not American anymore.

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by RSS

Add to Technorati Favorites
Digg!

It’s been a busy week. Lots of news. Duh. Stating the obvious. Okay, lots of interesting news. So let’s get going.

1. Olympic meat fit for an athlete… on steroids

The US Olympic team don’t just want to eat any meat when competing. Noway, sir. They want prime cut for prime athletes. They want their fresh American meat. Okay, maybe not that fresh. They are flying it to Beijing all the way from the US of A. So it will be stuck in the airport for a little while. Hope they don’t lose the luggage. But yes, the US Olympic team is flying their meat in because, you know, those third world countries like China just doesn’t have the good stuff. BIG steaks. They are scared that the meat might make them ill or something much worse. Might be contaminated. Because one of the caterers said that the chicken in China is full of steroids. Even more than Marion Jones. So full of steroids that the athletes might actually fail a test. Shock, horror. Imagine that. An American athlete failing a drug test. It can’t be. Not an American athlete. So they take some fresh Tyson meat with just in case – to play it safe. Hum, excuse me for just a moment while I choke on my ribs. But you think American meat is safe? How about some steroids in there baby? And growth hormones? Oh. Sorry. You will at least know that the steroids and growth hormones are undetected because of you have the technology behind it to make it untraceable. I get it. It would be like taking steroids from a stranger. I agree. Not good. Or maybe you want to take the American beef because you are scared of getting Asian flu? American beef is full of antibiotics to fight that off right? You think the USDA inspects the meat in the US? Think again. Only after the meat is in the market and then they hope to God that someone blows a whistle because there ain’t no way they will do it. So you better cook those steaks extra well done. But at least you will have an excuse if you get caught with steroids at the Olympics. It must have been the meat it couldn’t have been you, the honorable piece of meat. I mean athlete. At least you balance out your carbon footprint. Flying the meat in might be bad, but you are taking our enough methane gas outlets out the system to offset that. And stop for a minute to think while you take a bite of that meat over there. Think of those other pieces of meat. Those pieces of meat lying dead in the streets in Tibet.

2. Gadgets for Africa                                                                                African gadets

You know I have talked about Africa and innovation many, many times. Here is another example. And some pictures for the first time on my blog! Have a closer look at that picture. On the left is a mobile phone booth! Taking the business to the people. Genius. If we can’t get landlines or afford cellphones – no problem. We will take phones to people. In the streets and in the townships and out there in the veld. And on the right? A small step in solving the plastic bags problem (plastic bags is also known as the national flower of South Africa – you see them everywhere along the roads). So this guy took the plastic bags and made himself a paraglider. We have another lesson here apart from the obvious lesson that Africans are resourceful and innovative. Lesson: don’t think we are stupid and don’t know or want things you have. A paraglider? You would think that the guy has more pressing problems if you look at the background right? Not exactly prime property – but not that bad either. But the point is that we wear Nike’s and we drink Coke and we paraglide. We do things the “Westerners” do because we want to and have our “small things in life” as well. And they are similar so many times it is just not funny. So what’s this got to do with news? Well, AfriGadget just launched their new site and it is full of diamonds. From solar powered gadgets for mobile phones to making wire art. Have a look – it is great.

3. “Problem” solved – just export gays

Yep, the right wingers have come up with a perfect plan to solve the “gay” problem. Export them. Peter Sprigg from the Family Research Council said in his opposition to the Uniting American Families Act that “I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society.” (Bloody bigot bastard. Sorry. That slipped out.) A society that exports people. Mm, I wonder what that means? Some of the people who did that include Apartheid South Africa, Zimbabwe as we now have it, Rwanda, the Nazi’s and China. All different forms of “exporting” people they don’t like. (Stupid pathetic hatemonger. Sorry. That just slipped out.) But maybe it will address the trade imbalance that the US suffer from. You know. The US imports way too much and get into heavier debt each year. it’s gonna be a tough one to monetize. But hey. Bush managed to start a war from nothing so I won’t be too surprised. And of course, these “Christian” groups will then have enough money to participate in their other favourite hate pastime – war. A whole new meaning to “make war, not love”.

4. The Mac in Iran, I mean Iraq

The Mac is back. Yes, Mr Flip-Flop is taking it to a whole new level. First he had to change his story when Joe “I’ll-sell-my soul-for-DC” Lieberman whispered in his ear that Iran is NOT training Al-Qaeda. So Mac-say-cheese corrected himself and said that he meant extremist and not Al-Qaeda. You know. There are so many of these extremist groups that it is hard to keep up with the Sonny’s and Cher’s. And he decided to leave his “misspoke” out of his “factsheet” of his tour. And now? And now his team back home says that he was actually right the first time. That the Iranians are training both Sonny and Cher since they broke up. Yes. Iran is dancing to the Osama samba. And while you are at it. Why don’t you tell the American listeners the reason why you aren’t at that market you were at last time. You know, when you told the world that it is so safe out there – look. “I am in the market. How bad can it be?” You know why he wasn’t there? Because the US military advisers wouldn’t let him go there this time because it wasn’t safe enough… Not even with 100 troops, 3 helicopters and armored vehicles. Straight talk express my… hum… backside. Huh, Mac? Just stick with(out) the straight-bullsh*t-expressions please.

5. There’s more to those Obama passport stories you know…

You should know it by now. The story of the “state employees” who hacked into Obama’s passport file. They are trying to play as if this is nothing. Just a minor thing that they caught before anything happens. Nothing really. Really? Let’s have a closer look, shall we? You think those two who got fired were state employees hey? Sure sounded like that when the “authorities” talked about it. Let’s hear them say it, “Two State Department employees were fired and a third has been disciplined for improperly accessing Senator Barack Obama’s passport file”, the State Department announced. But they are not state employees. Oh no they are not employed by the state department. They worked for two companies that were contracted to the state department. A bit of a difference there isn’t it? And you think the companies got disciplined? Who knows. The department isn’t willing to let us know who these people or the companies are. Or why the third person was only “disciplined” (what the hell does that mean in any case?) But nothing on what they did to the companies. Maybe Dick ha a hand in that one as well. Halliburton anyone? And were they ever going to tell us about it? They only came out with the news after a journalist raised a question. And then they had to rush out and arrange a press conference. Before they even spoke to Obama. Remember the last time a candidate’s details were looked into? Bill Clinton in 1992. Another Democrat. Do I see a pattern of behaviour here? Oh, wait. There is more. Guess the dates that these people violated Obama’s privacy right? January 9th, February 21st and March 14th. What’s the relevancy? That’s the day after the New Hampshire primary, the day of the Democrat Texas debate and the day the Wright story hit. Mr Stone – you have a movie to make.

That’s all folks. More news out there. But no more views. I mean. No more space. I limit it to 5 or else we will never get out of here! Have a great weekend all. Stay angry. But have fun.

Add to Technorati Favorites
Digg!