Monthly Archives: October 2011

Is A World Of Reason In Our Grasp?

(Wolfer Family) ---------- Cabinet given to Adolf Hitler as a gift.

So much has happened in the world recently that has raised our consciousness  about the need to promote humanity, fairness and universal brotherhood. Many have commented that the recent events in Libya would, hopefully, send loud warnings to other modern dictators to give real power back to the people. But would it really?  Repressive and brutal regimes haven’t only recently become fashionable. The brutal deaths of modern dictators like Hitler,  Idi Amin, and Mussolini didn’t deter the late Colonel Gaddafi and other current despots from marching down the same path of hate and misery.

But there may still be hope.  According to the late great film director and actor, Charlie Chaplin, “the hate of men will pass and dictators die, and the power they took from the people, will return to the people and so long as men die liberty will never perish. . .”  How truly amazing that these words are as relevant today as when first  delivered by Charlie Chaplin, 71 years ago, in a magnificent speech. The full speech itself, comes from the 1940 film “The Great Dictator,” which is a satire  of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

The video clip below shows Charlie Chaplin’s delivery of the inspirational speech that many have dub the best political speech ever.


Somebody’s Got to Say It: Where Is the Sanctity of Gaddafi’s Body?

I never met him during his lifetime and although I consider myself neither friend nor foe of the man, I find the manner of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s death quite crude and the subsequent handling of his corpse inexplicably inhumane. While I truly believe that those who live by the gun will ultimately die by gun, I also think it is morally wrong to take delight from the demise of a fellow human being.

Understandably, to an extent, all is fair in love and war. But the one million dollar question is this: did Colonel Gaddafi have to die such a brutal death? Given that the odds were heavily stacked against him in the last couple of months, why didn’t he broker a face-saving retreat deal with the necessary stakeholders and then relinquish power?  Many African and Arab counties would have given him and his family political asylum. The fact that he was also a wealthy man would have facilitated things in this regard. But of course, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Dictators, by their very nature tend to work on a flawed sense of perpetual invincibility, forgetting that nothing lasts forever.  We understand from history that more often than not, tyrants lose focus and then gradually become far removed from reality.  Eventually they meet a violent end. Such was the fate of Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Sanni Abacha of Nigeria and Idi Amin of Uganda.

Following the pretty gruesome video clips of Colonel Gaddafi’s last moments aired on the various global news networks, there have been calls for an inquiry into the events leading up to Colonel Gaddafi’s death. While these scenes were quite disturbing,  in the grand scheme of recent events in Libya, it is doubtful whether any meaningful benefit would emerge from such an inquiry.

As a mere mortal myself, my main gripe is with the way Colonel Gaddafi’s corpse has been handled by the Libyan authorities. The  main world religions accept that the physical body of a deceased should be handled with dignity and utmost care. Placing Colonel Gaddafi’s corpse in a commercial freezer, with very little to shield his dignity, and allowing Libyan men to view his body and take pictures on their mobile phones is highly inappropriate and in bad taste.  Evidently, there is  no preservation of the sanctity of Colonel Gaddafi’s body. Surely, this runs afoul of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war.

The Libyan authorities should realise that whatever his crimes during his lifetime, Colonel Gaddafi is no more. His account on earth is now closed and he will answer to his creator for his deeds on earth. That the Libyan authorities chose rather to violate the sanctity of the dead, as an act of revenge, is most sad and inexplicably inhumane.  Even if all the reports of Colonel Gaddafi’s alleged crimes against humanity are true, that still doesn’t justify the Libyan authorities inhumane handling of his body.

In the words of Lady Macbeth, what’s done cannot be undone. Colonel Gaddafi’s life has come full circle.  The fine detail of his deeds on earth will now be relegated to the annals of history.  It is ironic that the young army officer, who led a bloodless Libyan revolution 42 years ago, has now died a brutal death in a bloody revolution.  The circumstances surrounding Colonel Gaddafi’s death are somewhat tragic and many will argue that he brought it upon himself.  But that is a discussions for another day. My bone of contention today is the sanctity of  Colonel Gaddafi’s lifeless body.

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. – ( Martin Luther King Jnr)

Can Parents Really Save Their Children From a Life of Self-Destruct?

Since the untimely passing of the recording artist Amy Winehouse, and then the London riots, I have thought a lot about parenting. As a parent myself, I can’t stop wondering whether parents can really save their children from a life of self-destruct.

Regardless of what the social services in the UK and other industrialised countries say, I don’t  agree that children belong to the state. Surely parents should be responsible for molding their children into the decent and law-abiding citizens they want them to become. Now let’s be clear about it, parenting is certainly no bed of roses. And those who delegate their parenting responsibilities to the state or to the streets, for that matter, will have a very hefty price to pay further down the line.

Oftentimes, parents of well-behaved children, and those who aren’t even parents, are quick off the mark to criticize parents of seemingly ungovernable children. While some parents are simply detached, reckless or even irresponsible, others may have genuine difficulties with parenting. But how does this blame culture help parents who really do need help in this area?

But there’s more to it. A bit of luck also comes into the equation. It is not uncommon for some parents to have done all the right things to raise their children, but yet, self-destruction eventually strikes. I am sure we all remember a certain American, female, six-time Grammy award-winning singer, who, despite her religious upbringing and squeaky clean image in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, was later plagued with drug abuse allegations.

Suicide bombers also fall into this category. More often than not, those who blow themselves up in the name of martyrdom were not raised that way by their parents. Even at a local community level, I am sure many of us know of parents to whom fate has dealt a hard hand in this way.

So how do we address this? Personally, I don’t believe that there is a prescriptive holy grail parenting formula which guarantees that children will turn out right .  Of course it would be nice if there was. Additionally, I don’t believe that children from wealthy nations are less likely to self-destruct. According to a 2007 UNICEF child well-being study, the UK was the worse place in the industrialised world, to raise a child. The world’s richest country, the U.S., was the second worse place to raise a child.

I do, however, believe that there are things we can do, as parents, to tip the scales in our favour and then hope for the best. Things like spending more time with our children, listening to them, setting ground rules at home, and instilling in them, at an early age, a sense of pride, duty and responsibility.

“Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.” – C. Everett Koop

Happy parenting !!!!!!