Into the Forest

Into the Forest

intotheforestNo one knows what to expect from President Trump, so whether you’re a Kenyan tea farmer or an American software engineer or a South African financial consultant … suspend your fears. What he said in this incredibly nasty election, the alleged horrors of his past – forget. Elections are reality TV, and he knew better than any how to exploit that.

But everyone knows what to expect from a united conservative, Republican government. If that government holds under Trump – and that’s not certain – my predictions are clear:

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Two Clear Choices

Two Clear Choices

electiondayDiversity vs. Human Rights is the great battle of our time. Elections are defined by them. They are so sacrosanct that they defy the necessary compromises for functioning democracies.

Society gets strained, broken, then destroyed.

That’s what I see happening in America, today, as it has already happened in most newer emerging countries like those I know in Africa. But exactly how far have Americans gone towards destruction?

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The Whole World Weeps

The Whole World Weeps

thewholeworldweepsThe “world’s on edge” was the headline in South Africa yesterday, but I could have plucked it from virtually any corner of the world.

Most Americans don’t care what the rest of the world thinks, including Democrats and even Bernie supporters. I think of all the sadness I feel at this election, this is the greatest.

It proves that we are egocentric if narcissistic, but most importantly, grade school dumb. That may be fine for writing an involuted gaming app; it’ll kill you – and everybody else – in the real world.

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Tuesday Follows Monday

Tuesday Follows Monday

probabilitiesPredictions matter. Trends across divergent, widely different worlds matter. This isn’t just a cathartic prognostication of a released Cubs’ fan. Tuesday, remarkable changes will afflict the already fatigued and troubled people of the U.S. and South Africa.

Call me superstitious but you’d be wrong. The world is so globally connected, media so lightning fast, that everything effects everything else in similar ways. Tuesday both the U.S. and South Africa may both have new presidents that the majority of their people don’t like and don’t want.

Is this democracy?

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Snake Oil or Nukes?

Snake Oil or Nukes?

pastorbannedAmerica has never lacked of snake oil salesmen, but following South Africa’s banning of Steven Anderson it’s clear that we better start realizing they might be something dangerously more than just conmen.

The Tempe, Arizona, Baptist minister decided if Barack Obama won’t cleanse South Africa of “sodomites .. drinking booze .. and terrorizing God’s people,” he will. Well, guess what: South Africans are doing what we and our ratings-greedy journalists and weak-kneaded politicians won’t: Stopping American extremism.

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Democratic Disease

Democratic Disease

gabon and polioRotary Charity and Gabon Wealth, two very different issues this morning that teach a similar lesson: you can’t buy success.

The oil rich country of  Gabon remains unsettled this morning following contested elections and days of violence.  A third case of the presumed eradicated polio was confirmed this morning in Nigeria.

Two extremely different African tales share an amazing similarity. Both of them were completely predictable and for the same reason.  Let’s start with Gabon.

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The Meaning of Motherhood

The Meaning of Motherhood

celeste-nurseThe daughter wants nothing to do with her mother. That statement has special meaning today in South Africa where 20-year old Zephany Nurse’s presumed mother began a 10-year jail sentence for having snatched Zephany from the hospital when she was 3 days old.

The now legal name given to Zephany by the convicted woman is not known and Zephany’s privacy is protected under South African law. Nevertheless, she said through her laywer, “Don’t you think for once that [her real mother] is my mother. Whether it is true or not is not for you to toy with… think what I am going through, and my father and mother.”

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News

News

farawayplaceFrom the outside a big place looks small. From the inside a small place looks big.

The Dallas police shootings, the massacre of protestors in Zimbabwe, the shooting of Alton Sterling, the kidnaping of British tourists in Somalia … what really is the difference?

Last night I collapsed on the couch and flipped on the TV. “Breaking News” about more shootings and … I turned it off. That was wrong. If we blindly run away from troubling things, troubling things will take us down.

Americans concerned with the security of traveling abroad have to realize this morning that foreigners feel more threatened traveling here than Americans feel traveling there.

The more important issue – a heartbreaking one – is why all this happens, anyway, not something as seemingly incidental as whether violence should alter your vacation plans. But violence isn’t usually willy nilly. It certainly wasn’t in Dallas last night or for that matter inside the car of Philando Castile several nights before. It takes organization to place snipers in the right spot or to snatch a tourist from a market in Lamu.

After centuries of discussion it seems that most violence is linked to inequity. Violence would be immeasurably reduced, in my view, if the wealth of the world were spread around little bit more.

Violence wouldn’t end, just as greed and lust for power will never end. But if hunger and want is even just a little bit reduced, if we take the butter knife and just spread that hunk of wealth a little bit more around, violence will subside. Everywhere. This is as certain for Kenya as Baltimore.

So that’s not going to happen tomorrow.

But you can read the news. You don’t have to – as I did – turn off the bad news on TV. Tomorrow you can get on a plane and fly to Paris.

The need for all of us to leave our shells is greater than ever before. It’s the only way we can begin to understand the barriers of difference which keep us from reaching equitable compromises with one another.

It’s the only way we can learn to tolerate differences and to recognize that our schema for living is no better or worse than a thousand others. With a little bit of travel outside your comfort zone you’ll discover that the similarities with those you considered foreign are much greater than the differences. Everyone wants to be happy. No one enjoys being hungry or sick.

Most of all everybody reacts to someone else’s suffering with an immediate desire to help alleviate it. However instantaneous or momentary that feeling of generosity might be, that’s what separates us from the rest of the animals of the world, empathy.

We dare not lose that.

It’s no sadder a time in America this morning than in Kenya or South Africa. The tragedy of any event collapses into its own place which seems very small and far away and very toxic to those on the outside.

We need to muster the courage to pry open those distant spheres. Realize that we all share the same awful level of sadness because we all share the same problems, human problems. We can all help one another.

After last night’s events I felt like crawling back into bed. When actually it’s time to continue packing for the next excursion, one that for many Americans might need be no more distant than Dallas or St. Paul, and for all of us means just not turning off the news.