*Image credit- The South African "Iron Mike". Follow me.
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I love this scene from the movie Alien 3…
“Dillon: [the inmates are still reluctant to take on the alien before the rescue teams arrives] Right, Okay, just sit here on your asses. Fine.
Morse: How about if I sit here on my ass?
Dillon: No problem. Oh, I forgot. You're the guy that's made a deal with God to live forever, huh?
[to the others]
Dillon: And all the rest of you pussies, can sit it out too.
Dillon: Me and her'll do all the fighting.”
It always comes down to the brave minority. Always. When the Jews were too scared to do anything about the Philistines, there was Samson. He died alone, surrounded by enemies instead of his friends. Word is he broke faith with God and was captured because he trusted one of the enemy with the secret of his power, but who knows what really happened or if it even did? There was an army with guys carrying top of the range weapons (for those days) and Goliath made them soil their loincloths. David comes with his slingshot, stepping in front of the army, ready to take on a monster who terrifies everybody else. Historians are unsure if this guy existed either, but the story’s a good one, that’s for sure. What about Yeshua bar Yosef? An even better story… The man had some good ideas and did his best to change the world. He needed force multipliers, so he got 12 guys and at least one woman to follow him and spread the message. As I’m fond of saying, “he was fine while he walked everywhere, it was when he climbed on a donkey that he got in trouble”- and then wound up nailed to a cross. Were his friends there? No. They ran like hell, promise of Heaven notwithstanding. Who was there? By all accounts His mother, Mary Magdalene and possibly James the Just. Who got the power and who was written out of the history books? Those who ran took over the show, while those who stood their ground disappeared from the record. As for James the Just, what happened to him? He was stoned to death for supporting the Christians.
There was king Leonidas, 300 Spartans and perhaps another 2000 allies, fighting a rear guard action while Themistocles took on the Persian fleet, both men vastly outnumbered- and we know what happened at Thermopylae... A whole country was overrun by the Ottoman Empire and the nobility cooperated with the invader, corrupting the nation. Vlad Basarab III (aka Vlad the Impaler or Dracula) turned on the Turks who had put him in power, killed some of the nobles and set the rest to manual labor, then took on his former sponsors after he sorted out the mess the country’s internal order was in. He didn’t end well, was torn apart by four horses or camels. Michael the Brave had a similar fate, only he was beheaded by traitorous nobles around him and these days is probably the only Romanian king with two graves. Yeah, his body is in one grave, and his head, found later, in another next to it- I kid you not, saw the graves with my own eyes. Fast forward a few centuries, and the situation is unchanged. A few men, sometimes just one, took on suicidal odds so that others may live. Examples are aplenty. There’s Audie Murphy’s heroism in World War 2, Jerry “Mad Dog” Shriver in the Vietnam War, judge Giovanni Falcone against the Mafia, Dakota Meyer in Afghanistan, so many that it’ll take years to tell their stories. They were there. They stood their ground. They fought, led and bled, many died. We call them heroes because that’s what they are, but in life there are others, who are called “normal” because they wait for someone else to die doing what’s right…
A few weeks ago, I was having a drink to relax after spending hours on writing an episode in the Omega Exodus series. Discussing my scenario with you, I was told “I’ve got kids, I don’t wanna think about that”, to which I responded “It’s because of your kids that you need to think about this”. And then I heard “If only there was a man willing to sacrifice himself to take Zuma (Jacob Zuma, South African president) out”. A number of things flashed through my mind as soon as I heard it, first being that getting rid of Jacob Zuma is meaningless and second, you had no idea what it takes to pull off a political assassination. That was charitable, because I also thought “You fat fuck! Why must someone sacrifice himself so that you can sit pretty on your fuckin’ ass? How about you do your fair share if you want something done? God damn, man!”
Thinking that ignorance is not bliss, I told you “Political assassination is not like in the movies. To succeed, an assassin needs as few obstruction as possible, preferably none, because fighting or trying to circumvent them will attract attention. It’s like tumblers in a lock- everything has to line up for the guy to get in, and that takes information and power. It means more than one person is necessary to succeed and that makes it a conspiracy. Now, who are you gonna trust with this? The man travels with around 11 vehicles in his entourage. That’s at least 40 bodyguards, many of whom were well trained by the British SAS. He’s also protected by a platoon of Special Forces and the police during public engagements. You want to compromise his bodyguards? It’s been tried, believe me, and hasn’t worked. Those people are loyal to him, well paid, have been with the guy for years and he knows them all. You’ll have to get to the guy in charge to maneuver things in such a way that one man can get through, and the security system has checks and balances. If he tries anything, the guys below him will spot it and disobey orders that compromise security. At the same time, they’ve got guys undercover in the crowd, who are trained to spot trouble. The assassin is going to need to know who they are and where they are, then get around them. This ain’t Hollywood man, it’s just not gonna happen with only one guy.”
A little over a year ago, seven journalists working for and another on contract to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) were fired after they refused to follow some orders. They quickly became known as the SABC 8 and their story became very big in the national media. This was at a time when Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the then-COO of SABC, was under fire for his “sunshine news” quota, questionable leadership and pro-ANC stance which was merely the latest in a string of events that had turned the SABC into a joke. There were protests, the SABC 8 got plenty of space in the media to speak and write, trying to become latter day heroes. It worked in a way, because most people bought their self-serving bullshit, and seven of them were reinstated after the SABC got its butt kicked at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), which is where people go to settle labor disputes before heading for the rather expensive battle zone of the Labour Court. Yeah, most people bought those journalists’ self-serving bullshit, but I didn’t.
By their own admission, the journalists had prostituted their professional obligations and ideals for years and contributed to creating the rot at SABC just so they could keep their jobs and in one case, even get steadily promoted. They were sorry for selling themselves only now, when they were out in the cold and needed a paycheck, like a priest apologizing for raping an altar boy thirty years earlier. When that happened and a buddy of mine saw it on the news, he said mockingly “I’m sorry now, but I enjoyed your poephol (asshole) then”… Those people got their jobs back, but what about those who were fired or forced to leave before then? I don’t know, the media didn’t seek out their perspectives, though I reckon they would’ve had a few interesting things to say about the former head of news who was then on a serious public self-flagellation kick. And then about a month ago, one of those journalists was found dead in her apartment, apparently felled by what’s been called Broken Heart Syndrome… Once more the media found a bandwagon to jump on, so it made the news and editorial comments sections. Nice girl, passionate about her work, was under a lot of unrelenting strain, journalists are having a hard time today, blah-blah-blah. Yeah, check the tears rolling down my cheeks…
There’s a big scandal making waves in South African politics right now, called “#GuptaLeaks”. It’s about how a business family (the Guptas of unauthorized landing at Waterkloof AFB fame) seemingly had come in a position to offer cabinet posts due to their influence on president Jacob Zuma. A boatload of the Guptas’ emails were leaked and journalists are having a field day. There’s talk of investigations, removing the president, major corruption and a few people called “the good guys” just because they did their jobs instead of taking bribes. Yup, modern South African heroes are those who do what they’re paid to. My, how low our expectations have sunk… Well, things have gotten so bad and will still get worse because pretty much like Edmund Burke said once, good people did nothing.
Mind you, it’s not the only reason. Since the late ‘70s or early ‘80s, the mantra was to “change the system from within”. Nice idea, but that only works when the system is willing to change- for the better, that is, because it usually finds it a hell of a lot easier to get worse. Like others, the South African government has shown itself unwilling to change for the better and those who try find themselves worn down to the bone or corrupted. I suppose it’s not that different in the United States. Practically every president of the last four or five decades has promised to change the culture and waste of Washington D.C., only to find themselves either immensely frustrated or coopted by the end of their first term, sometimes both since “politics is the art of the possible”... That resistance to change and entrenched dysfunction (or corruption, depending on how charitable you feel), is called “Deep State” these days and those who vainly promise change call their efforts “draining the swamp”. Like “hybrid warfare”, “asymmetric warfare” and a whole lot of other fancy terms, it’s nothing but putting a new dress on a mummy to make people think it’s the latest fashion model strutting down the catwalk. Man, there’s nothing new about this, it’s been with us ever since governments were created.
Can the “Deep State” be brought to the light of day? Can the swamp be drained? Yes, but not from within. Change is clearly impossible from the inside because those who are willing to try are vastly outnumbered and outranked by those who merely go with the flow and in some cases, even direct the rivers of filth running through our bodies politic. Dear coward, if you wanna see delta (the Greek letter used by mathematicians to denote change, not the Special Forces unit), you’re gonna have to do it from the outside. That means getting off your huge gluteus maximus and going out there, finding like-minded people, organizing, bringing pressure on the system where it’s going to hurt and taking risks. Yeah, you’re going to have to risk something, like becoming a hero, maybe wind up unsung and dead at the end. Then again, the bigger the crowd, the lesser the risk, so you just might make it. I’ve no idea what’ll happen if you try, but I do know what’ll happen if you don’t, and my hope is you’ll choose the former. Sadly, there are three problems- the cruel joke that is what happens when hope runs into human nature, you and this country, because The Heavy said it right in his song Shortchange Hero:
“This ain't no place for no hero.
This ain't no place for no better man.
This ain't no place for no hero
To call ‘home’."
Like it? Don’t like it? Got any ideas or comments? Fire away, fellow Writer Beat-ers, I’ll be waiting.