Friday, March 20, 2015

The Issue

I grew up in a family that liked to argue. Sorry, debate. There were lots of voices and you had to raise yours a little to get your point through a forest of passion and intensity. I have also thought of myself as liberal and at stages thought I would like to get involved in politics, but I don't like the way the game is played. I think if you live in a country with a strong constitution and rule of law, you can make a bigger difference by just getting on with it. I love the idea of rousing speeches though. The kind where you lower your voice, then raise it and gradually in waves build up to the point where the crowd is going nuts. Nuts about a cause that matters. But that is just the exhibitionist in me. The closet introvert worries that a crowd going nuts about a cause ends up causing more damage than good. There seems to be more sustainable progress through evolution than revolution.

The liberal in me also is somewhat constrained by the mirror. In almost every possible way I am a very privileged individual. This is another reason that motivates just getting on with it rather than saying too much. Although 'it would be fun', I am not a part of any explicitly marginalised group. I was brought up to believe that the colour of your skin was as significant as the colour of your eyes. I did however see that it was a useful simplification tool in trying to level the playing field. In my mind, I gave it 20 years from the 1994 birth of democratic South Africa when I would still acknowledge that I was 'white'. From a scientific perspective, race is meaningless and a block to progress. Check out 'This Idea Must Die' which looks at ideas that are due for retirement. Race is right up there. Before retiring, it seems it needs a concerted head on attack first.

Apathy can be a sign that things are going pretty well. I think democracy works best when it comes to issues that are clearly articulated and matter. Voters rally when an issue like whether or not Scotland stay part of the UK comes to a head. The rest of the time they get on with their lives. The statue of Cecil Rhodes at the University of Cape Town has become a centre point of discussion around white privilege. The issue is clear. The issue matters. The subject has been fairly topical in the US with the unrest in Ferguson in 2014. A friend from university shared the video below and asked for engagement.

It is worth watching.

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