Monday, July 25, 2011

Never Say Never

Couple of things that happened this week bug me. Unfortunately, I am currently hip-deep in work, and so haven't been able to write an article till now. However, when something bugs me long enough, my thoughts tend to stew over them for a while, until I just have to get it all down and post it.

Anyone notice how closely the govt's new demand on the mining companies to hand out shares to local communities in their areas (and failure to comply will lead to asset seizures), resembles nationalization?

Business is business. At least, I always thought it was. The mining companies lease or own the land, and they keep to government prescriptions on how to mine safely etc etc. Being told to just hand over part ownership of their operation to "the people" is neither fair, nor part of a free-market system, nor a democracy. Nor is just issuing an ultimatum to comply "or else". This is more in line with communist-fascist or socialist ideology.

Didn't Julius Malema make loads of noise about nationalizing mines in SA a while back? Didn't the ANC say "categorically" that it would "never happen"? Well what would you call this, other than the same thing spelled differently? It's classic redistribution of existing wealth instead of generating new wealth. What will happen when there is no more existing wealth left to redistribute? Will they then look at the private sector, properties, homes, cars, bank accounts? It happened in every other former colony in Africa, give or take one or two "civil" wars. Hmm. It's no secret - I'm not a big fan of the current administration.

Instead of providing services and effecting job and wealth-creation to the people, the ANC now seems intent forcing private companies to give away part of their company ownership to do it instead. As if current lessons that should be learned are going unnoticed. Then again, they probably are. I'm also referring to so-called "land restitution". Farms are being bought off non-white farmers, and given or sold to landless black folks by the government. While this may seem like an incredibly noble thing, what happens is that the new owners have no clue how to farm, manage the intricate business that is agriculture, and pretty soon, a productive farm becomes a white elephant that produces nothing at all - hence why our country is for the first time in a century or more, importing food it was until recently able to grow for itself. So much for learning - but then, given the shocking state of our so-called education department, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

Then there is the shocking racist policy of affirmative action or "BEE" still in effect in this country - which awards jobs to people of one race while depriving people of another simply based on racial characteristics. How is this any better than South Africa per-1994? Oh wait, I know - because the formerly disadvantaged are now the currently advantaged, that's why. Some justice that is - punishing subsequent generations of kids finishing school who were never around to inflict injustice upon those in power, who are now neither disadvantaged, nor poor - unlike the majority of their own group which still somehow languishes in abject poverty and gripes and grumbles in the shacks and poorly-built RDP housing. Everywhere the hot topic is "transformation" and "right-sizing", with some government departments imploding because of corruption and incompetence to comply with BEE. But that's not racism, no.

How about High Commissioner Qwelane - ordered 2 months ago to make apology to the Pink Community by the Equality Court? Has he paid his fine? Has he apologized for his hate speech? Has he been removed from his post by the SA government who claims to cherish the constitution and the constitutional protections for the group he offended and threatened - and who face violence in the country in which he represents South Africa? No, the whole works are being held up again by legal maneuvers. You should fire that man, Mr Zuma - his occupancy in the office of High Commissioner is an affront to every South African citizen who cherishes the Constitution and the principles of a free and open equal opportunity society - and who pay tax for his salary - and yours.

How about Juliaaaas and his "Homegate" scandal? I don't know about you, but this whole ruckus surrounding his 16 million rand house under construction and his implication in accusations of pay-offs in return for awarding tenders just smacks of the same odor as the Arms Scandal. And how about his complaining about the "fat cats" living off the cream of the land while the poor languish in abject poverty - and still support him in his quest for power and even more riches? Oh, the irony.

Think it will affect his chances of becoming the next prez of South Africa? President Malema? Many would also say that would "never happen", but then again they said the same thing about Zuma becoming president back in 2006. It just goes to show that some things will "never happen" - until they do.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Relativity

Depression is a problem, and there are people who suffer from it for perfectly good medical reasons. Then there are people who have a little disappointment at home, in the office, who have issues with their appearance or who have a little bad luck in relationships. Their car breaks down for the fifth time in a week and they want to end it all. Their boss tramples on their feelings a little and they want to eat a 9mm Aspirin. Seriously?

There are people imprisoned in a body that is so broken they don't even have the choice of ending it all. There are those without hope of anything worth having here, life, love, health, happiness - and let's just say wealth and worldly goods are the least of their concerns. There are people who can pop a pill or seek medical intervention to get them out of their depression or circumstances. Then there are people who really can do nothing but face the lousy bitch of a hand life has dealt them - and like it or lump it, they have no more choices or options. What the hell are YOU whining about?

Let me offer you some advice from an old fool. No matter how bad things feel, or seem to be, no matter how much you hurt, or how much you hunger, or how many bitter, bitter tears you cry, or how many times you pound your fists - or your head - into a concrete wall... it could always, ALWAYS be worse. And even though you feel hurt and broken now, you aren't. You're still here, you're still warm, you're still fed, you're still clothed, your body still works, and you have hope. Hope keeps you going. You are not beaten. You can still do something about it. Pick another battle, one you can win. And even if you feel you can't get any lower, you have hit rock bottom - all that just means you now have only one direction to go. Up. So get off your ass, stop complaining, and get on with it - start climbing.

So what if someone doesn't want you or love you? There are others out there who will. Trust me, the world is full of lonely desperate people. It's nice to have someone to hold you when you cry, to rub your back and dry your tears, but it's not always possible. Sometimes life takes us on a merry dance along a dark, rocky and winding road and we really feel alone. Perhaps we are. But what is the point of giving up? If you think you're a loser now, hun - just stop trying - then you WILL be.

People often talk about those who depend on you, and their need of you in their lives as if that is more important than your own pain or sorrow. That's because it is. There's more to living than just making yourself happy and partying all the time. Making a difference in the lives of others, bringing light to their darkness, and alleviating their suffering lightens your own load. Sometimes all it takes is just being there.

Stop asking why people don't love you or want you - and set out to make yourself so desirable and happy within yourself that they will have little choice but to. Stop whining that you are useless, and set out to prove to yourself and the world that they cannot do without you. Stop crying that you want to die because you are unhappy and unfulfilled, and set out to make the life you have as fulfilling and happy as you can. Stop blubbering about how unfair life has treated you, get up and be the change you want to see in the world.

If you quit now, you will be giving up on any happiness that may still come your way, any betterment you may yet still achieve. As bad as you feel now, do you not wish to feel better?

There's more to life than sorrow, self-pity and regret. There's more to existence than your pain and your need. There's more to your life and your existence than just YOU.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Out And About

Outing.

How do you feel about it?

I'm referring to the willful public exposure of individuals against their will, and without regard for their health or well-being. Quite often this is an intentional act of spite - sabotage - intended to ruin the life of the victim. An act of malice, to injure them, sometimes an act of revenge.

On Saturday I heard from a young friend that he had been outted and he was very distressed. It seems a love interest of his had tricked him into holding an intimate conversation via blackberry messenger, which he then showed to other people as proof that my friend is gay. There was also a phone call in which they discussed intimate details of getting together and formalizing their relationship, which had been something of an on-again-off-again thing over the past 2 years. My friend is 20 and the love interest 21. This guy shared the entire conversation with his mother, who is connected to my friends family by way of a second marriage to one of his relatives. Apparently she had also been allowed to listen in on the telephone conversation. My friend told me this woman had been calling all his close family and informing them that he is gay. His sister had called him to inform him of the situation and to ask what was going on. He was left with little choice but to come out to his mother before she received the same phone call.

This love interest of my friends seems by all accounts to be one of those guys who suffers from internalized homophobia, being incapable of accepting his own sexuality, while maintaining an overt heterosexual dating life, being all macho and outwardly homophobic - and meanwhile back at the ranch, he is equally comfortable in the sack with a guy. But just don't tell anyone about it. It is our little secret. It is little wonder then that this malicious act leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth. Was it some last ditch attempt to prove to the world, at the expense of another person's dignity and privacy, how "straight" he is?

I know how it makes my friend feel. He really loved this person. For the past year I have heard how much he was hurting, and saw how his face lit up whenever he heard from him. I know how he is hurting now too. He had to tell his mother about his deepest secrets on Saturday afternoon, to pre-empt the apparently inevitible. He already faces invasive questioning from his relatives - and now on top of that all, he faces religious brow-bashing from his mother, who is a "reborn Christian" under the false impression that being gay is a sin and gay people go to hell. This aside from the knowledge that he is a pagan. I can only imagine the arguments in that household. Sweet.

One of the things that come to mind is the sheer irresponsibility of it all. Did that stupid woman ever consider the recklessness of her actions? What about the guy? How does he feel about betraying someone in his own position? Someone who loved him? DO either of them realise that some people actualy self-destruct because of the unwanted pressure brought to bear on them because of their sexuality? Do either of them care that some people have such a rough time of it that they choose to end it all? No, I don't think they thought that far. I think they just thought about how much damage they could do out of spite.

It's always news - who is gay or bi. The tabloid rags around the the world - and especially in Uganda make their bread off the persecution and deaths of those they expose to the public. How do the actions of these people make them any better or different from those monsters who profit from the discomfort, sorrow and persecution of others?

Its emotional terrorism, that's what it is. My impulse on this issue is to suggest that we don't trust anyone - because if you do, you give them power over your life. But that makes me think a step further - if you don't take that risk, you will be forever alone. You will never know. So to live, we must also risk. And sometimes brutes like this cross our paths and prove themselves unworthy of our trust, and our affections.

Is it anyone's business what your sexuality is? Who you are interested in and what gender they happen to be? If they stand up and pee, or sit? Is it anyone's business? What right do people think they have to take the life of someone else into their own hands and to judge them and to play god with it? What right do they have to do so? People are murdered every day for their gender and sexuality. People lose their jobs, are bashed or ostracized. Secrets are kept for a reason.

Are they qualified to judge if they are able to handle the pressure that will come upon them, the scrutiny, the judgment and the attacks that will follow? Who are they exactly? What will be their reaction if something untoward happens, as a result, to their victim later - and what portion of the blame?

It was Newton who said: "every action has an equal and opposite reaction". Was he right? Will we ever know?

How does outing make you feel now?