Tag Archive: americaland


Mumford and Fish

Mumford and Fish

These are three of my best friends: Dunc, Majay and Rob. And missing from that pic is Reegs who is also one of my longest life buddies. And of course my wife, the beautiful Val [aka tbV, which so many of you keep thinking stands for The Lovely Val because of, um, the B, obviously] who made this photo [taken at my 40th after these clowns performed a satirical rendition of one of my favourite Mumford songs complete with homemade pizza box guitar and changed up lyrics] possible, plus of course let’s not forget the boob cake. Continue reading

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justice

i am loving this book tbV pickedup for me at The Warehouse by John Perkins. So much of it resonates with where my heart is for South Africa and, although he is using Americaland examples, so many of the truths still completely apply.

WILL I HOLD THEIR DREAM

The well-known Martin Luther King Jnr “I have a dream” speech was the dream of the black person in Americaland. But to be honest, it could only be fully realised once the white people got on board [which required much personal soul searching and recognising of white supremacy in themselves and actively taking on systems] to help get the country to the place it needed to be [although i imagine it, like ours, is still not quite there]. Similarly, in South Africa, for any reconciliation and restitution to take place, it is going to take both white and black people [simply speaking, plus of course all the other people groups respresented here] working together to ensure that the dreams of the currently-have-nots are made possible and in reach.

i want to share two passages from this book so far that greatly moved me in this regard and the first one contains snippets of Dr King’s dream alongside their present reality [despite these words being written some 30 years ago, sadly in the light of #Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter and more, there is still much work to be done]:

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‘The crowd erupted into a cheering, applauding, chanting, banner-waving mass of humanity. Dr King had to wait a long minute before he could be heard above the crowd.

Then his voice rang out with the now-famous words of this speech, “I have a dream,” in which he proclaimed in part: ‘Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we now stand, signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

…But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.

…There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can not be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied  as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like the waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

…I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American Dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.

…This will be the day when all God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning. “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

…When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

In these words, Martin Luther King captured many of my own hopes and dreams. His dream was my dream too. Yet at that very time God was at work in my heart, shaping a dream bigger than the American dream, a dream rooted in the very gospel of Jesus Christ.

Martin Luther King Jnr quote

As our little congregation in Mendenhall took shape my faith was approaching a crucial test. Mechanisation was displacing Mississippi sharecroppers, driving them even deeper into poverty. Racial tensions were rising. The problems plaguing our little community were so great, and we were so few. What could we do?

Did the gospel have the power to tear down evil traditions and institutions? Was there a faith stronger than culture? A faith that could burn through racial, cultural, economic and social barriers?

I remember as if it were yesterday how I started searching the Scriptures for principles, for a strategy I could follow. God’s answer came one day as I read the story of the woman at the well in John 4.

First, I noticed how Jesus approached the woman. He came to her on her territory. He chose to go through Samaria. Jews travelling from Judea to Galilee usually crossed over the Jordan river and went around Samaria because of their prejudice. A Jew meeting a Samaritan on the road would cross to the other side to keep even the shadow of the Samaritan from touching him. Jesus deliberately went through Samaria for one reason – He wanted to personally touch the lives of the people there.’

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The other two points that John mentions above, that i won’t go into detail in are:

[2] Jesus’ love, His bodily presence in a community, could reconcile people.

[3] He let her felt need determine the starting point of the conversation. 

i want to jump a whole lot of chapters forward in the book to share the next passage which resonates so strongly on my heart – the idea of incarnation, or as it is described in the book, Relocation. Living among the people you are going to be ministering to. tbV and i saw in Philly how valuable that can be in terms of relationship-building and even having any kind of understanding as to what they face on a day to day basis. It is encouraging to see many more followers of Jesus starting to take this more seriously and see that choosing where we live can play a huge part in the reconciliation and healing our country so desperately needs:

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‘As God’s agents on earth, we are responsible to live out this special concern for the poor. You cannot be and you ought not to be in the president’s administration unless you are committed to the president’s philosophy. In the same way you cannot effectively carry out god’s program unless you have the mind of Christ. To have the mind of Christ is to be especially concerned with the poor. It is to have a special compassion for the disenfranchised, for the aching in our society. And it is to act on that concern.

Whether we take the gospel to the poor, then, is not an incidental side issue: it is a revealing test of the church’s faithfulness to Christ’s mission.

How then shall we proclaim Good News to the poor? Once again Jesus is our model. “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory , glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” [John 1.14] Jesus relocated. He didn’t commute to earth one day a week and shoot back up to heaven. He left His throne and became one of us so that we might see the life of God revealed in Him. 

Paul says that we are to have this same attitude Jesus expressed when He humbled Himself: “Have his attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” [Phil 2.5-8]

Jesus was equal with God, yet He gave that up and took on the form of a servant. He took on the likeness of man. He came and lived among us. He was called Immanuel – “God with us.” The incarnation is the ultimate relocation.

Not only is the incarnation relocation: relocation is also incarnation. That is, not only did God relocate among us by taking the form of a man, but when a fellowship of believers relocates into a community, Christ incarnate invades that community. Christ, as His Body, as His church, comes to dwell there.

Relocating among the poor flies in the face of the materialism of Middle America. To consider relocating, then, forces us to confront our own values. Have we accepted the world’s values of upward mobility? Or have we accepted God’s values as demonstrated in the life of Jesus? That’s the issue.

As I speak around the country, some people find my words on relocation hard to accept. They ask, “Do all have to relocate?”

I answer, “Only those who are called have to relocate.” Then I add, “But if you’re asking the question too angrily, then you may be called. If you are uneasy about it, God may be calling you.”

If you resist the suggestion to relocate, you need to ask, “Why don’t I want to go and live among the poor and wretched of the earth?” Ask yourself the question several times. Your answer will be the reason you ought to go. 

If you have children, you may answer, “The kids in that neighbourhood don’t get a good education.” Then that’s why you need to go. you’ve just discovered a need! In moving to the neighbourhood, their need would become your need. The families in that community need others to feel that need with them, to make it their very own, to do something to improve the quality of education.

You might start a tutoring program, a preschool, a summer enrichment program, or even an elementary school. Whatever method you choose will grow out of relocating.

Now I’m not asking you to sacrifice your children. God gave us our children. They need a good education. If they can’t get one in the public schools, find another option. On the other hand, don’t overlook the educational advantages of sending your child to the neighbourhood school. Their increased understanding of the needs of the culture of the neighbourhood and the friendships they form may more than offset anything they give up academically.

Maybe you don’t want to move into the neighbourhood because of crime. Then that’s why you need to go. You’ve just found another need! Go identify with the people, help them understand the reasons behind the crime. Then work with them to solve the problem. Once you’ve relocated, once you’ve become one of them, you’re in a position to do that. People in an ethnic neighbourhood may hate the police. Refuse to share their hate, however justified: instead, commit yourself to now and the future.

Organise a neighbourhood watch group. Sponsor crime prevention workshops. Build positive, cooperative relationships with the local police. Invite the chief of police or the policeman on your beat to talk with church or community groups. Through letters to the police department, affirm those who do a good job: hold accountable those who do a bad job. Involve the policemen on your beat in community affairs.

In the past, our St. Charles neighbourhood in Jackson has had one of the highest, if not the highest, crime rates in Jackson. During the past year our community’s presence and our crime prevention efforts have cut the crime rate in half in our neighbourhood.

But you ask, “Can’t a suburban Christian minister to those who are aching without becoming one of them?”

And I answer, “Why on earth do you suppose these people have a welfare mentality?” It’s because outside “experts” have come up with programs that have retarded and dehumanised them. Yes, our best attempts to reach people from the outside will patronise them. Our best attempts will psychologically and socially damage them. We must live among them. We must become one with them. Their needs must become our needs.’

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And more. This really is a great book to get hold of and read. i hope these two extracts have helped catch some sparks into flame.

Do you have a good answer for why you live where you live? 

kaleid

i just read a really helpful piece by Brene Brown titled, ‘Own our History. Change the story’ which is focused on Americaland which has what feels like a completely different story, when it comes to present race issues, in many ways, but also some remarkably similar overlaps.

Owning our stories is standing in our truth. It’s transformative in our personal and professional lives AND it’s also critical in our community lives. But we don’t think about history as our collective story.

Until we find a way to own our collective stories around racism in this country, our history and the stories of pain will own us.

Brene is writing into the story of Americaland and yet replace ‘US’ with ‘South Africa’ and so much of this still rings absolutely true:

Our collective stories of race in the US are not easy to own. They are stories of slavery, violence, and systemic dehumanization. We will have to choose courage over comfort. We will have to feel our way through the shame and sorrow. We will have to listen. We will have challenge our resistance and our defensiveness.

We have to keep listening even when we want to scream, “I’m not that way. This isn’t my fault!”

We have to examine and own stereotypes and prejudices. Every single one of us has them. It will be tough.

We will need to sit down with our children and talk about privilege. This means honest conversations about how we were raised and what we need to work on. No blaming or shaming, but truth. It’s not productive to deny how hard we all work for what we have, but it’s not honest to deny that many of us are afforded privileges based on who we are and what we look like.

Osheta Moore, a woman of colour in Americaland who i deeply respect had this amazing post to write after the tragic events of the Charleston shooting that occurred this past week. Some advice she gave to Americans which could be well extended to white South Africans, as we try to make sense of the violence and deep-seated hatred and racism that is prevalent across the nation, even 20 plus years after our first officially free and fair elections:

Today, I offer two responses that promote peace, lay a foundation for unity, and point to the love of Jesus as displayed on the cross.

I’m sorry.

And

I’m listening.

I’m sorry because we’re called to be peacemakers.  We are the ones on the front-line of violence with the sword of the Spirit- his words that bring life.

We’re called to be the ones to cry out, “Immeasurable worth!” when image-bearers are devalued.

We’re the voices of justice.

We’re the ones who draw in the sand and level the playing field.

As peacemakers, we’re tasked with identifying with our Prince of Peace who overcame our blood-thirsty enemy by shedding his own blood- selflessness and love flows from the cross and lies out our chosen path- humility.  “I’m sorry” tames the anger.  “I’m sorry” respects the pain. “I’m sorry”positions you as a friend and not adversary.

I’m listening because we’re called to be reconcilers.  Like Jesus reconciled us to the Father- it’s a painful process.  A denying process.  A humiliating process.  But a Kingdom process, nonetheless.  “I’m listening” says, “yes, I have an opinion and yes I have strong feelings, and yes this makes me feel more than a little helpless, but I’m going to press into this specific pain and listen.”

We need to own our history, and the fact that we are still very much walking through muddied waters that are filled with consequence, privilege, hurt, abandonment and more.

We need to very much be able to say, “I’m sorry” – not necessarily that ‘i did that thing’ but definitely that ‘i benefitted from that thing having been done’ and ‘i see how that thing being done has left a deep legacy of hurt for you and your family’. 

We need to listen and really hear the hurt and the stories, the needs and the desires and dreams – rather than assuming or presuming that we know or could ever understand living as a person of different colour or culture or story, we need to simply close out mouths and start to listen more, create more spaces for others to share their stories and experience so that we can begin to have a bit more of an understanding and start finding better ways of moving forwards together.

i know and i recognise more and more that i personally still have a long way to go and it is important for me to catch the racism and race-mindedness and prejudice in my own life.

i need to have more occasions of recognising and celebrating the diversity of the different people of my country and creating opportunities to engage more deeply and profoundly with others who are not like me.

i need to be braver in calling out racism where i see it and refusing to let friends and family especially [but also strangers where it feels safe to do so] get away with being subtly racist or prejudiced in what they say out loud. It is okay to say, “That is not okay!” in love but firmness.

And so much more. But let’s continue to step towards this. As we stop to listen and own up to our stories and grieve with those who are suffering or who have suffered, and as we seize opportunities to build deeper friendships with people who are not like us, so we will move closer towards being a country of true diversity and the “Us vs. Them” will be transformed into “Us and Them” and then hopefully disappear completely into a beautifully mosaiced and kaleidoscoped ‘Us’.

kaleid

[For more thoughts and conversations around a better South Africa, click here]

Just before tbV and i left Americaland last year August, i started reading ‘The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the age of Colorblindness’ by Michelle Alexander, a tough but brilliant read focusing on the system of mass incarceration of black people in Americaland. Then we had to leave and i had to give the book back having only read two or three chapters.

But now we’re back in Americaland and i saw it lying on the table at my friend Nate’s place and so i have it again and have been giving it a serious push. This really is a book every American should read [and South Africans too, different story but similar perspective] and this passage i feel gives a hugely eye-opening transformative reveal that may challenge the very fabric of how you always assumed things to be.

The New Jim Crow

From the chapter titled ‘The Colour of Justice’, page 98-100, bold mine just to draw your attention to those particular lines:

‘This is the War on Drugs. The brutal stories described above are not isolated incidents, nor are the racial identities of Erma Faye Stewart and Clifford Runoalds random or accidental. In every state across our nation, African Americans – particularly in the poorest neighbourhoods – are subjected to tactics and practices that would result in public outrage and scandal if committed in middle-class white neighbourhoods. In the drug war, the enemy is racially defined. The law enforcement methods described in chapter 2 have been employed almost exclusively in poor communities of colour, resulting in jaw-dropping numbers of African Americans and Latinos filling our nation’s prisons and jails every year. We are told by drug warriors that the enemy in this war is a thing – drugs – not a group of people, but the facts prove otherwise.

Human Rights Watch reported in 2000 that, in seven states, African Americans constitute 80 to 90 percent of all drug offenders sent to prison. In at least fifteen states, blacks are admitted to prison on drug charges at a rate from twenty to fifty-seven times greater than that of white men. In fact, nationwide, the rate of incarceration for African American drug offenders dwarfs the rate of whites. When the War on Drugs gained full steam in the mid-1980s, prison admissions for African Americans skyrocketed, nearly quadrupling in three years, and then increasing steadily until it reached in 2000 a level more than twenty-six times the level in 1983. The number of 2000 drug admissions for Latinos was twenty-two times the number of 1983 admissions. Whites have been admitted to prison for drug offences at increased rates as well – the number of whites admitted for drug offences in 2000 was eight times the number admitted in 1983 – but their relative numbers are small compared to blacks and Latinos. Although the majority of illegal drug users and dealers nationwide are white, three fourths of all people imprisoned for drug offences have been black or Latino. In recent years, rates of black imprisonment for drug offenders have dipped somewhat – declining approximately 25 percent from their zenith in the mid-1990s – but it remains the case that African Americans are incarcerated at grossly disproportionate races throughout the United States.

There is, of course, an official explanation for all of this: crime rates. This explanation has tremendous appeal – before you know the facts – for it is consistent with, and reinforces, dominant racial narratives about crime and criminality dating back to slavery. The truth, however, is that rates and patterns of drug crime do not explain the glaring racial disparities in our criminal justice system. People of all races use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates. If these are significant differences in the surveys to be found, they frequently suggest that whites, particularly white youth, are more likely to engage in illegal drug dealing than people of colour. One study, for example, published in 2000 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that white students use cocaine at seven times the rate of black students, use crack cocaine at eight times the rate of black students, and use heroin at seven times the rate of black students. That same survey revealed that nearly identical percentages of white and black high school seniors use marijuana. The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse reported in 2000 that white youth aged 12-17 are more than a third likely to have sold illegal drugs than African American youth. Thus the very same year Human Rights Watch was reporting that African Americans were being arrested and imprisoned at unprecedented rates, government data revealed that blacks were no more likely to be guilty of drug crimes than whites and that white youth were actually the most likely of any racial or ethnic group to be guilty of illegal drug possession and sales. Any notion that drug use among blacks is more severe or dangerous is belied by the data; white youth have about three times the number of drug-related emergency room visits as their African American counterparts.

The notion that whites comprise the vast majority of drug users and dealers – and may well be more likely than other racial groups to commit drug crimes – may seem implausible to some, given the media imagery we are fed on a daily basis and the racial composition of our prisons and jail. Upon refection, however, the prevalence of white drug crime – including drug dealing – should not be surprising. After all, where do whites get their illegal drugs? Do they all drive to the ghetto to purchase them from somebody standing on a street corner? No. Studies consistently indicate that drug markets, like American society generally, reflect our nation’s racial and socioeconomic boundaries. Whites tend to sell to whites; blacks to blacks. University students tend to sell to each other. Rural whites, for their part, don’t make a special trip to the ‘hood to purchase marijuana. They buy it from somebody down the road. White high school students typically buy drugs from white classmates, friends, or older relatives. Even Barry McCaffrey, former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, once remarked, if your child bought drugs, “it was from a student of their own race generally.” The notion that most illegal drug use and sales happens in the ghetto is pure fiction. Drug trafficking occurs there, but it occurs everywhere else in America as well. Nevertheless black men have been admitted to state prison on drug charges at a rate that is more than thirteen times higher than white men. The racial bias inherent in the drug war is a major reason that 1 in every 14 black men was behind bars in 2006, compared with 1 in 106 white men. For young black men, the statistics are even worse. One in 9 black men between the ages of twenty and thirty-five was behind bars in 2006, and far more were under some form of penal control – such as probation or parole. These gross racial disparities simply cannot be explained by rates of illegal drug activity among African Americans.’

And it continues. People who know me well know i am not a big fan of statistics, but these seem too overwhelming to ignore. If it is true that white people and black people are committing the crimes of drug use at equal rates [leaning to more by white people] then the level of incarceration of black people for drug usage is absolutely ridiculous and smells deeply of something far more sinister and engineered. You will have to get hold of the book to see the progression of the argument but it takes it all the way from policing to court structures to state and international law and the way it is carried out. Something is seriously skewed in Americaland. And it is skewed against black people and Latinos. And one of the biggest problems is the face value nature of the situation which looks at the number of black people in prison and makes the conclusion that black people must be committing the majority of the crimes and all the assumptions that accompany that.

We have to dig deeper and start to understand the greater story a lot better. This echoes deeply into many issues back home in South Africa. Specifically when it comes to black people and jobs, and then related crime and incarceration there as well. When the playing field and the starting cards you are dealt are not even, and the system is skewed against you, then only the very smallest percentage of people will be able to overcome those odds and obstacles and be able to ‘beat the system’.  But the resounding narrative will tend to focus on all the majority of those who did not make it and so the stereotypes and conclusions will be drawn from looking at their life situations.

[To read some Steve Biko and his focus on Black Consciousness, click here]

[For some Robert Sobuke and his look at how man can die better, click here]

PearlsbeforeKilling

As you all know by now, Pearls Before Swine is my favourite comic strip and if you ever have some time to enrich, you can take a look at a whole bunch of the cartoons i have shared over here. And usually he is just random or clever or biting cynically silly fun, but every now and then he draws a strip which makes you stop and go, “Wo!” and maybe even think for a minute.

i had saved this first strip to comment on some time and then he came up with the second one and i thought they worked quite well together so here they are. Appreciate them. Stop for a second and go, “Wo!” But also take a moment to think about your relationship to meat/killing. Because it is probably something that, unless you’re a vegetarian or more, is something you don’t think all that much about.

i have thought about it a lot more over the last couple of years and think our Americaland experience and some of the people we came into contact there definitely impacted my thinking in a number of ways. But here are three that come to mind:

[1] When it comes to people i am pro life, but perhaps not in the traditional way that that phrase is used. i believe that if you’re pro life you have to be pro all of life, so from babies that are still being formed to old people, from those suffering from disease to those who are going to be born with some kind of disability we have to be pro it all.

i do realise this is a tricky, sticky and potentially controversial opinion to hold. And that sometimes there might be an individual case by case scenario where some tough decisions need to be made. There might be a situation where a doctor has to choose between saving the mother and saving the unborn baby and i think probably the doctor in that scenario is going to be the best person to make that decision after consultation with the husband/father. While i disagree with the terminology [at the very least] of ‘assisted death’ i do think there are situations where we perhaps artificially help people ‘to live’ where it is not really living at all and so i do think we probably could rethink some of our artificial life preserving methods and be okay with allowing people to die when it’s their time to do so, although again i imagine these are really difficult decisions and should be taken situation by situation.

But we should hold life preciously, and the idea that someone would consider killing a child [because that is what it is!] because tests show it might be born blind or disabled or down syndrome actually sickens me. i cannot get my mind around that.

i absolutely believe the death penalty is wrong and don’t understand how so many christians are okay with their thinking that it is right. To kill someone to prove to people that killing is wrong just seems like the most ridiculous thing ever. Much more needs to be said about this.

[2] i came home from our time in Americaland with a greater appreciation of life. Now i have no doubt that i have vegetarian and vegan friends and possibly others who think i am way too far away from where i need to be. But i am definitely better than i was and i really like the change in myself. i have no idea what specifically caused it and again it might be simply from being around a lot more people who thought and lived a certain way.

The way i have seen it manifest is particularly with insects or bugs. Not that i think i would have gone out of my way to kill them before we went to Americaland. But i now have a mindset that says, ‘If i can avoid killing a bug or insect, then i will do that.’ i realised the extent of the change in me the other day when i carefully [this is going to blow too many peoples’ minds] removed a cockroach from my house and set it outside in the road as opposed to killing it. Before i wouldn’t have thought twice about killing a spider and now i will do my best – if it needs to be moved – to get it on a piece of newspaper or in a bag or on my hand and move it to a safer place. i will avoid stepping on ants if i see them – again, a really small mindset shift and a massive one as well.

Mosquitoes? Sorry, the change has not extended there. So maybe there is still some work to do. Or maybe that’s just ok.

The change can probably best be described as don’t go out of your way to hurt or kill a living creature. And if you are able to save/protect/rescue one then go for it. In some situations i probably will still kill ants and cockroaches and possibly even spiders, but i am now leaning more strongly towards avoiding it if possible. So that might not seem particularly significant to anyone, but it feels good to me. Small steps.

[3] Bacon. i imagine this one will seem silly to people on all sides of the spectrum, but i’m okay with that. i enjoy bacon as much as the next person and yet somehow i have gotten this reputation of being the number 1 bacon appreciator of the world. i am aware to some extent how i have helped create this impression and so it’s not completely surprising, but i don’t think it’s true. i mean i really do like bacon, just not THAT much. And one way it has been propogated is that any time anyone sees a t-shirt or a meme or a bacon-salad picture they immediately think of me and post it on my Facebook wall and so it helps build up the picture.

But it’s not particularly true. To be absolutely honest i think i could never eat another piece of bacon again for the rest of my life and be totally okay with that. i wouldn’t particularly choose to, cos like i said i do enjoy it. But it doesn’t feel like a need for me.

The weird point i wanted to make about bacon though is this. i’m not sure when or where it started and don’t even know why. And i don’t particularly do it with any other kind of meat although i do try to be grateful and appreciate all the food we have an eat. But particularly with bacon i started in the last couple of years, taking a moment to stop and be grateful and in a sense thank the pig. To some this will be ridiculous, to others maybe hypocritical and maybe it’s just me cashing in my senility chips earlier or something. But i think it might in some ways be linked to tradition of first nation people of celebrating the life of the animal they kill before they eat it. A real sense of gratitude and appreciation. A moment of stopping to give thanks and thank the pig for its sacrifice that was made, giving me an opportunity to eat. Maybe this means absolutely nothing and makes no difference at all, but for me it is an extra moment of gratitude and appreciation and i think that’s a good step in the right direction.

i imagine most meat eaters don’t take any time whatsoever to think much about their eating of meat. Perhaps if we did there would be more vegetarians among us. So maybe take a moment to think about your meat-eating-ness or not. If you’re happy with it, then by all means keep on. But maybe even within that we can find better ways to do it…

pearlsbeforekill

[For a range of other Pearls before Swine strips, click here]

shoes

You know, the whole, ‘Before you criticise someone, walk a mile in their shoes’ thing?

Following on from the post and conversation relating to inequality at the moment still being a race thing in South Africa, what might be a helpful activity is to take a look at how you understand the other person’s argument.

Are you able to jump into the comments and comment from the point of view of the person on the other side of the argument. So, as a white guy, can i comment as if i am a black guy [in terms of point of view] on the whole issue of reconciliation, land redistribution and equality within South Africa [and Americans, can you do this with your whole #Ferguson #BlackLivesMatter conversation]?

eg.  Because my grandparents were evicted from their land and forced to move into a less than favourable location, i feel that it is only fair for me to have the opportunity to return to where they originally lived and be given land there.

In terms of the Americaland situation it would be something more like:

eg. I am tired of explaining to my child why he should not wear his hoodie when he goes out at night.

It is clear from some of the conversations that have been happening on the blog and on Facebook that there is a lot of fear, insecurity and mistrust around a number of these issues and i’m wondering if taking a moment to articulate the other person’s argument [you don’t have to full agree with them or believe it, but just seeing if you get it] might help each of us to see better where they are coming from and understand their point of view.

i realise this is a little risky, but i think it could be valuable. Anyone willing to give it a try? Simply take one aspect of the argument or conversation so far and articulate it as if you were bringing it from the other point of view.

Or as Jack Handey puts it, ‘Before you criticise a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes.’

[This is also shared as a special shout out to my Scottish friends/family in light of today’s referendum, however sad or happy you might be]

One of the members of my posse, known as the Four HorseDawgs of the Apocalypse, showed me this just shortly before i left Americaland and it was well funny.

A whole bunch of you would have seen it on my Facebook page already but as we head towards the weekend i thought it would be good to share some fun with those who maybe hadn’t.

If you know someone who is sarcastic, you should totally forward this to them:

By a group called Burnistoun…

If you appreciated this sarcasm, you will more than likely become fans of Pearls Before Swine strips which you can check out over here.

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