Waiting for god to click his fingers…

A group of right-wing Afrikaners, seemingly disillusioned with post-apartheid South Africa, met this weekend to draw up a strategy for their liberation from reality; actually they prefer to call it liberation from the yoke of black oppression.

Basic observation teaches us that all men and women are not equal; the reality is that people have different abilities and different levels of competence in common abilities. It is conceivable that these characteristics of individuals, can be extended to even race groups. So, I have no beef really with a race group which wants to assert a superior characteristic (such as building laagers); it is evolutionary and natural after all. And if that group also wanted to associate only with members of their own race, then that’s fine too; freedom of association is permissable in most civilized countries; maybe even desirable.

It does irk me though, when a race group claims that their version of god (they do emphasize that it is a Christian version of god) endowed them with a superior genetic make-up which bestows upon them titles such as Master Race, and then go on to claim that their god meant races to be separate. Apart from the fact that creation myths are infantile, such beliefs in the modern world ought to be ridiculed, and punishable by law. But such beliefs are indeed held and propagated in post-apartheid South Africa, by those Afrikaners, who gathered this weekend near a little town called Heilbron; all 3oo of them by some accounts.

Judging by the right-wing rhetoric of the many speakers at the gathering as reported here, intelligent strategizing may have eluded them altogether, while juvenile boasting seems to have been the only accomplishment of this gathering.

The ANC government is only the black glove on the white British fist. This ANC government was installed with only one purpose, to destroy our Volk.

The African person is genetically programmed for destruction. Everything he touches, he destroys.

The first paper they [the Blacks] saw was the Bibles they took from the wagons after they killed the Voortrekkers. The closest they came to brain surgery was beating the Voortrekkers’ heads in with knobkerries. Their only engineering achievement was to hitch a plough onto an ox. They have just celebrated Heritage Day – the only heritage their ancestors left them was a couple of clay pots.

However, the most asinine comment of the day belongs to Ronnie van der Merwe, chairman of the organizing committee for the Afrikaner gathering:

the Heavenly Father, with a click of His fingers, can make us a free Volk if He so wished.

Perhaps the so-called Heavenly Father, taking pity on his creation (in his image off course), did indeed click his fingers, and wish such a thing, way back in 1994, when the right-wing Afrikaner lost both his illegitimate power and rights to the land. But seeing as sound travels much slower than light, and that the Heavenly Father is ostensibly in deep space, these poor Afrikaners have a really long time to wait before that click of the fingers is heard on earth. And alas, even so, the volk will not be free for as long as the mind is enslaved to such archaic thinking.

While these Afrikaner radicals do not represent the larger White community in South Africa, they are representative of similar splinter groups all over the world. So while they  indulge mainly in crazy religious and racial ramblings and ludicrous claims for god-given land, it is not hard to imagine them one day resorting to the same fundamentalist violence that is endemic in certain parts of the world right now.

Religion can make you happy, and prayer is not infectious after all

Earlier this evening, I came across a discussion about how religion makes people happy too, started by a fellow atheist on a social utility website and it somehow reminded me of an incident that occurred yesterday.

I may have committed a cardinal atheist sin on Sunday – I joined in a prayer circle, holding hands with a policewoman from De Deur Police Station on the left and an HIV-positive kid on the right.

Yeah, that’s right; but I couldn’t help myself as I was caught up in the moment of gratitude and happiness being expressed by a group of AIDS orphans and their adult minders. And in case you think I’m intimating that holding hands with an HIV-positive person or a police officer for that matter, as being an atheist cardinal sin; I’m not. I’m referring to the prayer circle. The prayer meant nothing to me; but it felt good to feel good together with others, who usually don’t have much to feel good about.

And how did I come to be in this strange position? You see, I, together with a few friends, were helping some police officers from the local Police Station feed these abandoned kids at an AIDS orphanage. The police usually find them abandoned and then bring them over to these “safe” houses (or places of safety) where they can get treatment and care, until they are more permanently taken care of by the social welfare system.

While we were standing around in the kitchen, the visiting pastor and the rest of the group spontaneously grabbed hands to form a prayer circle and I was caught in the middle of it. I’m still alive and well (for those who think that it is deadly to hold hands with an HIV-positive person or a police officer for that matter), and the intense prayer hasn’t convinced me to accept Jesus; so no harm done.

One thing though: I did feel a tinge of envy, when I later saw the pastor get behind the wheel of that shiny new Nissan Navarra pick-up truck, with a full house of extras, parked outside…

On the Anniversary of Human Madness

The anniversary yesterday, of the destruction of the WTC  Twin Towers in New York by religious fundamentalists, passed with little worldwide fuss.Eight years after people of faith reached  an all-time new low in the war of religious domination, the bombings and mayhem continue with no sign of abating. Only now, the religious war is driven largely by political ideology as well as hatred.

As I sit here watching endless documentaries on television about those moments of madness on September 11, 2001, I am more convinced than ever that religion does not belong in the public domain. Those wishing to practice strange rituals and believe strange things, should only do so in the privacy of their homes.

Will we ever return to the day when faith moved only imaginary mountains, instead of real-life high-rise building? Will history speculate that faith caused the end of human civilization? After we’re all gone, will it matter?

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

While on my recent road trip, I did manage to find time to finally finish reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which was recommended to me as a book about critical thinking.

When I first read this book as a school kid many years ago, I thought it was just a great adventure story, like so many other kids at the time. Now, many years later, and with a more mature outlook on the world, several new layers are revealed beneath the tale of a boy (Huck Finn) and a runaway slave (Jim), and their journey down the Mississippi River, on a raft.

When originally released around 1885 in the USA, the book was criticised for its course or crude language and even banned by several libraries. Later it was criticized even further for the use of racial stereotypes. However, the cunning use of these stereotypes by Mark Twain, was meant to highlight one of the many themes of the book; that of racism. It was also meant to be a commentary on slavery, which was entrenched in the period the book was written about.

Perhaps the most important underlying theme of the book explores how Huck is in constant moral conflict with the  prejudicial values that the society of the time inflicted on people. And this is where intense self-evaluation (and critical thinking) enables him to ultimately make the right moral choices.

Notable Quote:

Mornings, before daylight, I slipped into corn fields and borrowed a watermelon, or a mushmelon, or a punkin, or some new corn, or things of that kind. Pap always said it warn’t no harm to borrow things, if you was meaning to pay them back, sometime; but the widow said it warn’t anything but a soft name for stealing, and no decent body would do it. Jim said he reckoned the widow was partly right and pap was partly right; so the best way would be for us to pick out two or three things from the list and say we wouldn’t borrow them any more – then he reckoned it wouldn’t be no harm to borrow the others. So we talked it over all one night, drifting along down the river, trying to make up our minds whether to drop the watermelons, or the cantelopes, or the mushmelons, or what. But towards daylight we got it all settled satisfactory and concluded to drop crabapples and p’simmons. We warn’t feeling just right, before that, but it was all comfortable now. I was glad the way it come out, too, because crabapples ain’t ever good, and the p’simmons wouldn’t be ripe for two or three months yet.

Back from my road trip…

Well, the road trip’s over; I’m back and still in one piece. So many experiences, so many good memories; so much to write about.

Where do I start? I don’t really know. I’m still piecing it all together; figuring out how to tell the tales (none of them tall). Should I use some of the hundreds of photographs I captured? I can’t really use the many hours of recorded video, here. I’m currently looking into something called netGallery, which allows you to record your travels with route maps, pictures and words online in a sort of journal.  Looks cool, but I have to explore some more of it.

I should have an angle sorted by tomorrow or so. Until then…