To my granddaughter, at 5 days

In my day and my Daddy’s day, grown-up was 18, when most people finished school, got a driving licence and ordered a beer in a bar. You won’t need a driver’s licence, my beloved, as the cars that are still around won’t need drivers, they’ll drive themselves far better than we could ever do. Try to give beer a miss.

My grandfather used horses to get around. He never owned a car or a telephone. CMR Officer

He was a soldier and rode into battle on his horse, with a sabre and a rifle.

I hope that I will be able to read you stories, but I suspect that books will also have largely disappeared. I know your Dad has already started reading to you.

Sharing anything with anyone is always a good thing, because even if it is a bad experience you will be able to share the pain and if it is a happy one you will be able to double your joy!

It is very important that you take time to talk to other people and do things together. Try to eat one meal a day with your family – no distractions, just talk to each other.

You will probably be a vegetarian, although you will eat stuff that looks and tastes like meat – we have a braai tradition. But real meat will be too expensive so we will cook vegieSteak and goggaPrawns on the barbie…

If you are lucky, your family will have its own vertical TerraFarm next to your house, which will produce most of your food. Maybe one of your first tasks will be feeding the chickens and collecting the eggs.

mzikiWe had a fine rooster called Mziki when I was young. He was very fierce and crowed the loudest of all roosters in town. I hope you are able to keep a rooster so you can wake up when it crows in the morning.

I hope you will love growing things as well.

When I was a boy, this world was still being explored. New societies were still being discovered in deep jungles. You will be able to work on Mars and explore outer space. Remember to call home. Parents never stop worrying about their children. Perhaps you could rather send an avatar so you won’t miss dinner and your Mum won’t fret.

Do your best, be brave, be humble, help others.

Sing

dance!

Smile

Dance

Justice fails

It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer“,  known as Blackstone’s ratio.

Avoid legal punishments as far as possible, and if there are any doubts in the case then use them, for it is better for a judge to err towards leniency than towards punishment”  is a statement attributed to Muhammad.

These are fundamental precepts in the administration of justice.

But the systems in practice fail terribly:

On the one hand, most crimes are undetected and unreported. Because of the above precepts an extremely low percentage, possibly less than 5% of reported crimes result in prosecution.

Where is the justice for victims?

jail birdsOn the other hand,  many people are apprehended by the justice system, processed, imprisoned and almost invariably degraded, dehumanised and criminalised by that experience.

This article was prompted by a TED video presentation by Robin Steinberg on the injustice of the bail system in the US.

The statistics presented were horrifying: on any day in the US, 75% of people charged cannot afford the bail set.

There are over 400, 000 people in custody awaiting trial, unable to pay bail.

jail life

We are talking of one of the wealthiest countries in the world, where bail is rarely refused. Imagine what it must be like in less sophisticated societies!

  • If you can’t pay bail, you likely can’t afford a lawyer, are unemployed and struggling to feed your family.
  • If you are employed you will likely be fired, your family .evicted from your home. In jail there is a high risk of assault and rape;
  • you are exposed to hardened criminals and gangs who enforce their demands. You have limited contact with your loved ones.

Jail is an ugly and terrifying place to be.

The bail project is an organisation which pays the bail of those who are unable to do so.

  • 96% of people sponsored in this way, return to face trial
  • Over 50% of these cases are dismissed
  • Less than 2% of those charged  receive jail sentences.

Of those that remain in custody, 90% plead guilty, many just to get out of jail.

The criminal justice system is a cruel failure where most crimes are undetected and many innocents plead guilty to avoid prolonged incarceration.

 

What are the options?

Probably some subordination of individual rights to community interest as universal surveillance becomes the norm..

Can you see that getting through existing Parliaments in western democracies?

nice day for rev

That is a topic for another day.

 

A living will is a dying wish

“The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our separate ways, I to die and you to live. Which of these two is better, only God knows.”

-Socrates

Such clarity of mind and absence of fear, when faced with imminent death, is remarkable and unusual. His last words were a reminder to Crito to pay a debt for him.

I am not dying, nor do I intend to do so for a number of years yet. However, I suspect when that Spectre is nigh, that I might not be possessed of the coolth and clarity of Socrates. So I will tell you now about how I would not like my dying to occur.

My intention is to inform my kith and kin and doctors to avoid the involvement of lawyers, who insist on making simple statements complex in order to guarantee certainty … and fees, no doubt.

In accordance with our will, my estate and all my possessions are to become my wife’s property and in the event of her death, before or after me, will be divided equally amongst our five children.

A simple concept was developed in Florida, USA to encapsulate the how I want to die / don’t want to die situation, called the Five Wishes, which met the approval of even Mother Theresa :

  •  My wife is the person I want to make care decisions for me when I can’t. If she can’t, then I wish one or two of my children to do so.
  • I do not wish to receive Medical Treatment that will prolong my life, unless I would be able to enjoy a good quality of life thereafter. Don’t keep me alive as a vegetable, don’t resuscitate me unless I could go swimming unaided and sing songs thereafter.unplug me.jpg
  • I like the idea of pain relief and maintaining dignity, even if it might not be good for continued breathing.
  • I do not wish to be a burden on my family, especially if /when I become demented. Place me in care and only come to see me if I will recognise you.
    • There is a Catch 22 here which you will need to resolve: the cost of care will come from our estate, which may diminish your inheritance. Let your own quality of life be the guiding principle.
  • I would like a memorial gathering where people can offer prayers, tell stories, laugh and cry.
    • Above all I would like to hear the singing from wherever I may be;
    • I wouldn’t mind a wake – in any event, I would like people to have a bit of a hooleyd'ya tink Im dead
    • I would like my ashes to be the growth medium for an umVovovo tree (huilende boerboon / tree fuschia).

tree burial

That’s where that thought went…

My granddaughter asked me to come and play; I replied that I was writing, to which she inquired: Why do you write?

To paint pictures with words … Really?

things to avoidNo, but I usually avoid the answer as I suspect it has something to do with a struggle to confront irrelevance or worse, insignificance.

I like the idea of creating something for others to see. Why does one seek recognition? Is it Pride:  a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements … consciousness of one’s own dignity …?

Wikipedia sets my anxious Catholic-bred mind at rest. Pride can be positive – a humble and content sense of attachment… a product of praise, independent self-reflection, and a fulfilled feeling of belonging. Or it can be an irrationally corrupt sense of one’s personal value, status or accomplishments … synonymous with hubris.

Hubris is the terrible sin which saw Lucifer cast out of Heaven and transformed to become Satan. It is essentially placing one’s self above others, which as Satan experienced, attracts God’s great wrath.hubris

Strong individuals who drive themselves on to achieve their goals often start to overemphasize the worth of their own wisdom and fail to seek out or consider the counsel of others. Their thinking takes on a circular nature:

I have achieved because I am wise therefore I need only to follow my own advice…

This lack of regard for others inevitably leads to isolation, avoidance by others and great internal conflict which, when faced with failure  often manifests in uncontrolled outbursts and increased isolation.

The cure for hubris? A mirror could be used to provide perspective; or perhaps a challenge to seek ways to show gratitude frequently. A re-ordering of values and objectives would help – but who would be able to beard the lion in his den?

According to Greek legend and as Lucifer discovered, unchecked hubris leads to Nemesis.

 

I find that I am a great avoider, maybe we all are. Avoidance defers scrutiny and if neatly accomplished, may attract regard for the adroitness of the manoeuvre, distracting attention from the reason therefor.

sidestepOf course, in the strict light of day, there is no escape: avoidance is more likely a want of courage, which is unacceptable… (how does one avoid that?)

That’s what happens when one indulges in idle thinking!

Bollemakiesie

The young can make us young again too.

beer and braai

As is our habit we braaied at the weekend, well on Easter Monday. It was our usual family gathering with dear friends and some visiting rellies from across the ocean.

Somehow there was a slightly more festive spirit than the norm which seemed to make the beer and fizz go down easier.

We were a somewhat eclectic crowd with some in their sixties, fifties, forties, thirties, three dogs and a four year old sprite.

Normally a fairly shy child, on this day, she was filled with the energy of a March hare and the command of a Ringmaster. While we chatted and kept up the level of our liquids in the early stages, she inspected the toys and her dolls house, engaging the dogs in a number of role plays. A bit later, I noticed the dogs had gone missing. I found them in the dolls’ house, waiting patiently to resume the game.

However, the young queen bee had moved on and was engaging the adults, commanding their participation in a number of exercises and role plays, including  catch-the-grasshopper and a tea party.

Her timing was impeccable and her enthusiasm and commands were charmingly irresistible. The new activity at Playschool was yoga so all were instructed to participate in yoga exercises. Peer pressure enforced participation, which should have been more wisely considered in some cases.

Head over heels (bollemakiesies in Afrikaans) were the exercise for men and all surrendered their dignity to roll around on the grass in pairs. The last pair included a grandfather who was proud to have been in his primary school gymnastics team and remembered well his star turn of a somersault over a wooden horse…

His bollemakiesie was very well executed, symmetrical and straight. However, the total effect was spoilt by the unfamiliar pressures on reasonably airtight gaskets. The resultant lapse of the system was quite a blast.

dogrofl.jpg

A nervous glance sideways revealed that it had not gone undetected.. two people were crying and the dogs were trying to run away…

Growing old does not prevent infection by the rashness of youth, it merely impairs the ability to maintain dignity and integrity while under its spell.

My granddaughter is quite a lot older and wiser now.

finger pull fart