QA 60. None the wiser (On the obligation and cultivation of wisdom)

Last week, I had the pleasure of addressing a conference of family mediators in Cape Town on the topic of “Wisdom in mediation”. Two stories First story. An ethics professor once said to an undergraduate philosophy class, “If you believe that a professor of ethics is an ethical person, you are making a category mistake.”…

underdog schmunderdog

  Beating the opponent at his own game. The pluck and courage of the underdog to outwit and overcome. Why does this strike everyone (I’m talking to you, Western culture) as a good trope? Underdog becomes top dog, it’s still a dog. To change our thinking could mean getting out of the game entirely. To…

QA 59. To be a comrade

What did it mean: to join the Party? Brecht says it best. I was not an exploiter, so I could grasp it. To dedicate oneself to a more human society. For justice and peace, bread and roses. Against exploitation and oppression. Against all odds. To understand the indivisibility of freedom. To adopt José Martí’s willingness to…

QA 58. “But it doesn’t work like that!”

Annals of philosophical counselling/practice with others “But it doesn’t work like that!” I say this in response to some proposed scheme or strategy of yours. I mean that, in terms of what you want to achieve, what you are doing seems either futile or malicious because you have a mistaken view about what’s going on….

QA 57. “Need I remind anyone, again?”

Between 1987 and 1990, my husband Rob and I ran a safe house for the liberation movement in apartheid South Africa. We were part of what we would later learn was named Operation Vula, short for Vul’indlela (“Open the road” in Zulu). Its aim was to infiltrate exiled leaders of the African National Congress/Umkhonto we…

QA 56. Four touchstones for thinking about peace

For Nelson Mandela’s birthday, and because I’m reading Thula Simpson’s Umkhonto We Sizwe: The ANC’s Armed Struggle, thinking about and respecting the lives of everyone who stood against apartheid, those whose names are known or unknown, remembered or forgotten. Thinking that the aim of the struggle was peace, and how we’re not there yet. Thinking…

QA 54. #What rises?

The student movement that flashed into life this year in South Africa, from #Rhodesmustfall at the University of Cape Town to the extraordinary #Feesmustfall protests last week in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Stellenbosch, Grahamstown and Pretoria, is a complex and dynamic phenomenon. Lots going on there. But there are two things I’ve been trying to think about. Two…

QA 53. The wheels in my head go round and round

Participants in last year’s “Archives of the Non-racial” mobile workshop through South Africa and Swaziland were asked to submit fragments of our notebooks – doodles, notes, reflections, poems, coffee stains. These have been gathered in the JWTC’s online journal, The Salon. Check out all the loveliness here.  This is my bit. Solidarity and the non-racial (Political struggle 1) “I’m not…

QA 51. Optical illusions, the political economy of

One image that can be seen in two distinct ways, but never both at once. Faces or a vase? Duck or rabbit? Crone or maiden? Someone shows you: See, the old woman’s chin is the young woman’s throat! All of a sudden, you do see. You start to switch the two back and forth, grinning like…