A little boy and little girl were walking through the woods on their way home, when they found an old monk, sitting in a clearing. His legs were crossed in lotus position and his eyes closed. As the children drew closer they realized that the old man was levitating. They gazed at him dumbstruck for a minute. Then they circled the monk, looking for any a clue as to how he floated.
The monk, still levitating, seemed totally oblivious to their presence. “Wake up,” yelled the boy, but the monk remained unresponsive, floating in the air as if gravity did not exits to him. The children were too curious to go home so they waited until the monk woke up.
Hours passed before the old monk floated gently to the ground and opened his eyes. He saw the children standing in front of him.
“How do you float like that?”asked the boy.
“It is an illusion,” replied the monk.
“Then where are the ropes that hold you up,” retorted the girl.
“You don’t understand,” said the wise old man. “The floating is not the illusion.”
A versionof the above story has already been published on www.alteye.co.za
The following poem was written during the Bush Administration, just after the Invasion of Iraq.
A superpower, a missile shower
A fierce foreign policy
A nation attacked, a patriot act
A farewell to liberty
A leader persuades
An army invades
To enforce a democracy
A body bag
A folded flag
In the land of the free
Once we were blindfold, shackled and gagged
Kept in separate rooms, where we learnt to fear each other
And cast blame like stones over our divisions
A long and hard-fought struggle
Levelled the walls and we came face to face
Our nation, so long mute, could at last speak
And love broke the chains that bound us
Our eyes could see as far as they sought to see
And no question was forbidden
Again a gag has been stuffed into our mouths
Again a blindfold has been forced over our eyes
We see only what those who fastened them want to show us
We hear only what they deem fit for our ears
They who in binding us have proven themselves unworthy of power
They who seek to hide behind a piece of paper
For all we do not see we see them
For all we do not hear we hear them hush us
And while our hands are still free there is work to do
And while our minds, that know no chains other than their own,
Keep thinking we will remember
We will remember
And so will they
They will have to tell their children
That they may not speak their minds
That you played a part in gagging them
That the freedom they fought for they betrayed
That they helped dim liberty’s light and let the darkness in
On 22 November 2011, I attended a funeral for freedom of speech in South Africa. Myself along with about three to five hundred mourners stood outside Cape Town’s parliament, where a bill that effectively allows government to sensor the media was passed. We were all dressed in black. We sang songs from the struggle against apartheid. We listened to speeches. Some of us danced the same dances that shook the earth in the liberation movement. We all hoped to sway the ministers inside parliament from signing the Protection of Information Bill. Nonetheless, the bill was passed and freedom of speech in South Africa was lowered into an early grave. It was only 16 years old.
One of the mourners in his eulogy said the bill was the first step in dismantling democracy. He spoke the truth but only half of it. The bill could also, and I pray I am wrong, be the first step in constructing a dictatorship. Anybody who knows history knows that the first step in establishing a dictatorship or an oppressive government is to suppress freedom of speech. The Protection of Information Bill is essentially a mask behind which the government, already known for its corruption, can do what it pleases with being seen.
To quote Dr Phil: “Those who have nothing to hide hide nothing”. The fact that this bill has been passed proves that the current government of South Africa has something to hide and that it intends hide what it wants to do in the future. With this bill much that was achieved in the struggle against Apartheid has been reversed. But this is not the end. This is the dawn of a new struggle, against a new oppressor. That’s right: oppressor. Only an oppressor would advocate a bill to oppress freedom of speech. Only an oppressor’s minions would let such a bill come to pass. In doing so they have shown themselves for what they are. They may have their mask for now. But one day the mask will fall and they will have to face us and face what they have done.