26 June 2008

Life, l'amitie and all other L's

So, its been a while since I've written a seemingly positive note... so here goes..

I will start with a quote from Antonio Smith courtesy of a Spur sugar sachet:
"Enjoy the little things in life...for one day you may look back and realise they were the BIG things"

Life is about cherishing the little fleeting moments and immortalizing them in our memories for they define who we are and possibly who we shall become... Often people live in regret, crying that they still haven't achieved their dreams, that their bigger picture is hazier than a Picasso reject... and yet each day we do a little, we do something. Each day, we touch someone's life, often unwittingly.

Regret is the deepest sign of weakness, its an internalisation of defeat. Why can't we all just seize the day? There comes a time when you just have to turn over the page and stop living in the past (or living a dream like I'm prone to doing)...Its not worth the stress after all...You just have to let go, let loose.

Its a rude awakening when you realise that you can not always be a winner in life.Comme maman dit toujours : "Quand vous gagnez toute l'heure, vous appreciez jamais vraiment votre succes". Profound words that have taught me to appreciate the little things.

I need to constantly remind myself that life is too short to be troubled. Heal...start for today and for YOU.. After all...your mistakes (or past weaknesses) can only make you stronger... This brings me to my next and last point.. the necessity of friends. I'd probably be a hermit were it not for the fact that I can't imagine a life in which I can't share with another (others). Would there be a point?

The other day I was listening to my music on shuffle and this catchy phrase kinda stuck... yes, it is by Snoop Dogg!
"There will be ups and downs...smiles and frowns...Share with me, fairy tales are make believe"

So, yes.. there is some inspiration in rap music after all! Indeed from this and in life I've learnt that one's most valuable asset is the company s/he keeps...Without whom life would be a lonesome journey...a journey not worth taking. For whats the point of smiling or frowning if noone sees you do it?

In appreciating my friends, I look at my own mistakes. Friends are, after all, human and while I err, so too can they. So, I've learnt to forgive and forget, to smile at every chance I get and always remember that when things are hard....they could be worse...Lift my head above the water and jus KEEP WALKING.

Life is a struggle...a constant war between what you wish it could be and what it wants to be..No one person has ever won a war on their own.If you can turn to your left and be received with a're lucky...if you can turn to the right as well and still find a are among the wealthiest in this world...for wealth is not measured by the amount of money in your bank account, but by the joy that surrounds you each day...

Maybe I talk sh*t..who's to tell...I'm still fighting my battle, but with a smile :)

On niggas, faggots and the like

I've seriously had it with all the hate in this world. I always say that hate is an external manifestation of internal self-detestation. For if we all thought we were adequate and had high esteems of ourselves, then we wouldn't "need" to hate. In hate, we show just how much we feel threatened. Indeed hate is fear disguised. The "other" is only as different as you make them out to be. Maybe the solution is to cease labelling oneself.. for then, you wouldn't have a justification for labelling anyone else... aah random thoughts...

The other night all these thoughts ran through my head as I sat down with friends for dinner ... As with most of my conversations, debate arose. The issue was: "niggas", or more aptly the use of words like "nigga", "kaffir" and such like.. Naturally our debate progressed to other pejorative language uses such as referring to homosexuals as "queer", "faggots" etc... My note will however focus on the primary source of the debate: NIGGA
What was the debate about you ask? It can't have been about whether such terms, with their negative connotations, were indeed derogatory for thats clear. Our debate was about who is justified to use these terms.

In my opinion it is NOT OK for anyone to call me a nigga, not even myself. I thought my stance was only natural and that everyone should agree (I tend to do that). I argued that there is no such thing as a "nigga" and thus no one should be called that nor should anyone use the term. I was fascinated by the response. Not only did my assertion not have overwhelming support, it was practically rejected in its entirety. I was told that because the term "nigga" was historically used to refer to "people of my kind", I had justification in "reclaiming" its use. Dare I say, I still find that opinion appalling! I was never a "nigga" and I find the use of phrases such as "people of my kind" does nothing to solve the many hate based issues the world faces today.

I don't see the worth in (re)claiming a derogatory tag, all it does is perpetuate the "hate" I constantly speak of. How can reclaiming the term better me? By calling myself "nigga", am I not joining arms with the very people who look down upon me? And what governs which term I can reclaim? I am a "nigga" today, a "coconut" tomorrow. What benefit do I gain from insulting myself? I don't want to reclaim a negative tag, but if I must, then there should be no problem with everyone calling me "nigga".. after all, if I call myself a nigga, then what harm does it do me if someone else does too?

I guess for some its OK to "hate" oneself, but not to be hated. (my use of the word "hate" here is synonymous with tagging oneself and possibly internalising stereotypes)
I say this because, Jacob pointed out that in gay circles it was OK to call homosexual men "queer" and lesbians "dykes", but that people who weren't gay shouldn't be allowed to. I fail to understand the logic in that madness. I desperately need someone to enlighten me. How does calling yourself and the people you love "queer" - a synonym of "odd" - not make you seem self-deprecating or self-loathing? And if my sexuality (or my race) is but a mere fragment of my identity, why should I allow it to define who I am?

I am many things, but if you can't call me Ottilia (the only all-encompassing word that defines me), then rather call me nothing at all. I don't care what popular culture tells you is OK, I am not a nigga and labels really are for boxes.

As with all other things... this is MY opinion... you might think differently. And if you do, tell me why :)

The "other" is a state of mind

And the headlines read: "16000 people internally displaced in a week, 34 reported dead... when will it ever end?"

Its sad that our world is cluttered with degenerate human beings who, despite millions of years of evolution, still fail to accept that the "other" does not really exist. What cowardice it is to attack someone because of (mis)perceived differences. The problem of xenophobia is particularly riling because more often than not it manifests itself in violence..

It amazes me that one can discriminate against another because they hail from across an imaginary line. People forget that we are all one and the same despite some differences in external physical appearance, concentrations of melanin, language.. Even if we were "different", whatever happened to loving thy neighbour as you love thyself? Is it so hard to express positive emotion? Must we continue to seek success by hurting others?

Xenophobia and all other forms of hatred towards people we perceive as the "other" only show how much we reject our own adequacy. As if by killing off those you "fear" are taking away your resources (resources which you claim entitlement to.. whether or not you really are entitled to them is another issue altogether) you'll suddenly become better... solve the problem. Hate is a cancer,that cannot be "cured" by cutting off the undesirable bits.

And yet, we sit and watch as South African across the country assault and murder foreigners... Did South African people not recently celebrate and ululate at the demise (or perceived demise) of apartheid? Did it "just" happen? It was through the actions of a vast majority of people - most of whom were foreigners - that South Africa became "free". Through the actions of people who believed that even when the worst seems to be upon us, something CAN be done. Harbouring the exiled freedom "fighters" is but one of many ways through which foreigners aided the South African "revolution"... Were it not for the same foreigners being attacked today, "freedom" would not exist in South Africa (well, not for most people anyway...)

The sad thing is while groups are sprouting across facebook condemning the attacks, very little is actually being done... mostly, I suppose because of the negative attitudes that pervade our society today...

I have heard suggestions that the perpetrators of this xenophobic violence should be killed. Quelle horreur! So, these people want to KILL the people who are attacking foreigners. To what end? To perpetuate the cycle of violence?
The xenophobics are clearly in the wrong, but killing people off because you think they are wrong is exactly what the xenophobics wished dead are doing!

On the other hand there are those people who argue that, even though xenophobia is a problem, nothing can really be done. I am appalled by such defeatist attitudes! There IS something that can be done. IMHO only someone who sees some justification to the violence would suggest that nothing can be done.

Earlier someone said to me that all these drives for marches are a waste of time and an elitist way of dealing with xenophobia. I can only say that its unfortunate that such ignorance can exist at varsity level. Marches are an effective way... clearly this person was not aware of the school children of Soweto, who on June 16, 1976 marched in protest of the apartheid regime, or the women who marched to the Union building in 1956 to protest pass laws. If they were they wouldn't have made such a statement.. Indeed, it was through marches such as these that the tide of change began to rise...

Yes,society thinks what they are doing is appalling but what are WE doing about it? By sitting back and doing nothing are we not part of the problem? Issues such as these should be debated in the public domain, protests should be held and those who have, through their xenophobic violence, harmed others (psychologically, physically, emotionally or otherwise) should be brought to book...