The Plastic Hippo

December 15, 2013

Missing the point

Filed under: Media,Politics,Society,Sport,World — theplastichippo @ 2:15 am
Tags: ,
Image via sabc.co.za

Image via sabc.co.za

For the first time since the dawn of creation, God will pull rank and force his way through the crowds to have his photograph taken standing next to the latest arrival in heaven.

The passing of a frail old man in poor health undoubtedly brings profound sorrow it but can hardly have come as a shocking surprise. The understandable outpouring of grief for a life ended after 95 years mistakes the pragmatism of mortality with the relevance of legacy. Those weeping at the departure of the man are missing the point; what Mandela did and what he stood for will live forever and should be embraced with joy.

The media, both “legitimate” and “social”, have reacted with the predictable emotional equivalent of a volley of baton rounds fired into a township. The man who once described himself as an unemployed ex-convict would probably have found the eulogies and touching personal remembrances rather amusing especially coming from a political elite brought up on spin, camera angles and autocue instead of breaking rocks on Robben Island for years and years and years. The media, as ever, missed the point.

Mandela is now home and his long road has ended. It seems that those who actually knew him, rather than those who clambered for a photo opportunity, suggest that he had a finely tuned sense of irony and would have chuckled at the bizarre revelation that a man waving his hands about just feet from the President of the United States of America was a delusional schizophrenic who had once been accused of murder. Fortunately for Obama, the quick thinking Prime Minister of Denmark managed to place herself between the POTUS and the madman by taking a “selfie” and the only damage done was the lunatic leaning in to photo bomb the image. By the way, David Cameron did not wear a tee-shirt saying “Hang Nelson Mandela”.

Given his “mischievous” sense of humour, Mandela might also have smiled at the reaction of the left, right and centre. Armchair revolutionaries and freedom fighters clenched a fist in solidarity the moment the old chap`s respiratory system finally gave up the ghost and with cries of “smash the rich” granted instant deification. Portly, balding white liberals like me who experienced the full horror of apartheid by listening to Paul Simon`s Graceland remembered how we brought down that evil oppression by wearing ANC tee-shirts to a Wembley concert and loudly proclaiming our refusal to eat Cape apples. The right bellowed of the disproportionate coverage given to the death of a “communist” and a “terrorist” and a fossilised Norman Tebbit was wheeled out to claim that he and Margaret Thatcher brought about the end of apartheid by offering support, investment, legitimacy and considerable amounts of deadly armaments to PW Botha and his sub-human, murderous chums.

The comparison with the death of Margaret Thatcher was depressingly inevitable. The left shrieked at the right and the right shrieked back and aging, silver haired liberals now chomping Cape apples talked of “Madiba” and “Tata” even though the closest they have been to the Rainbow Nation is the wine aisle in Sainsbury`s. All, however, agreed that Mandela`s courage in pursuing forgiveness and reconciliation marked him as an outstanding statesman. By shouting at each other to a point beyond forgiveness and reconciliation, they missed the point completely. If avoiding a guaranteed blood bath by compassion and common sense marks a politician as “outstanding”, then unless the planet finds more politicians like Mandela, the machete will get us all before global warming does.

There can be little doubt that the world has lost a great heart and a great mind. If his life and his purpose is to have any meaning, current world leaders need to follow Mandela`s example. Humanity, decency, dignity and equality are not vague concepts that can be locked away behind bars. The corrupt idiocy that promotes the ideology that one human being is “superior” to another human being is, in itself, inhuman. Change not charity and freedom not famine will define the future. Those that wish to oppress will never win.

So sleep well Nelson Mandela and thank you. Without your life, we would have seen butchery and carnage in the Republic of South Africa. The point is; we are now witnessing scenes once thought of as being impossible:

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