2014 ELECTIONS AN OPPORTUNITY TO PUT POLITICS IN ITS PLACE AND ELEVATE OUR THINKING
The 2014 elections are fast approaching and not so long ago the nation buried its philosopher King –Dr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela- at which point there was a whole lot of talk about emulating the legacy and example of the late statesman, I would herewith wish to posit some thoughts about legacy and real philosophy that Madiba left South Africans.
To contextualize in wish to appeal to Philosophies that have been espoused in the Anglo-cultural hegemonic discourse, namely Greeks and particularly the Socratic teachings respectively by Plato. Admittedly better choices are there indeed with African philosophy but alas I am not at all exposed to this and my search for these teachings is at a nascent stage.
Plato in the allegory of the cave and the shadows allows us to understand an important part of neuroplasticity and neurogenesis respectively these are defined by Doctor Caroline Leaf as the study confirming the brain as malleable and adaptable, changing moment by moment of every day, while the brain also has a daily occurrence where new baby nerves are born. As I understand it, neurogenesis assists with adaptation and with the attainment of things that have been deemed impossible on a certain person- like the fact that blacks cannot do mathematics or that blacks are naturally predisposed to corruption, conspicuous consumption and are not inventors. Science has proven and rubbished all these racist inspired conclusions. The proviso is that we active mind power to dwell on the possibility of achieving any task, then the baby neurons grow and explore the plenteous, effective and efficient ways of attaining to a set goal.
The cave in Plato is described as having prisoners that are bound up from birth facing the cave wall and unable to turn and see what is outside the cave and the true nature of forms that are reflected on the cave wall. The reflection is caused by the light from the fire behind them. The prisoners are only exposed to shadows and oft to distorted shadows. One prisoner escapes the chains and goes outside of the cave to realize that the guessing that he and his fellow prisoners was a lie, he returns to tell them the true nature of things outside the cave are not what their sense told them. At times while prisoner they would see perhaps a man carrying their dog above their shoulders and they would imagine themselves as the only normal people and that the outside world was ridden with dog pig head and human body creatures that barked. With these misconceptions the cave is safe and their prison is their protection. This is challenged only by the escape of one person, who sees things as they truly are and is probably victimized by his former colleagues and comrades who fear for their lives.
Back to our context Mandela was an enlightened man who dealt with his own anger and introduced a politics and ethics of forgiveness, tolerance and development. In the cave still are some who hold on to racism. In the cave still are bound about by victim mentalities. In the cave still are some who exploit vulnerabilities to their own gratification and profits over human life. As a philosopher King Mandela certainly tried to the instill the ideal of an egalitarian South Africa-and that 20 years into a democratic dispensation we still have rampant poverty, corruption, racism, violent crimes against women and children is evidence that people are still in caves.
Neuroplasticity says that we are only in these caves because of choice and quality of thinking. The science also says that we can alter our thinking by making choices to think right. I am worried that the expectation of the masses is needs to be checked with the reality that in truth choice about their own future and destiny is the only thing that will change their lives not the selectorate or political elite. I am concerned of the violence and damages to property in which the youth is very implicit, because I think that this is motivated in part by a heavy reliance on the elite, which reliance is time and time again proven misplaced. Rather than looking at the self for answers for development and from escaping poverty.
The place of politics is still there in South Africa, albeit in a rationed quantity. Politics can create a reality based on senses and not one based on thought, introspection and projection of the mind energies to a desired future. Politics elevates the indiscretions of politicians to a reality in senses of most people to the extent that politicians can raise feelings of fear and retaliation (Bush 2) , hatred (seen in Rwanda) and blind loyalty and national division ( Malan, Swart and Verwoerd ).
This generation should exercise choice and mind- realizing that Politicians at times can do so much and the rest is up to each and every one of us. We should not that Mandela’s legacy is actually similar to that of an escaped prisoner from the cave, from the poverty of Qunu, from an arranged marriage, from being the like an orphaned child to being a lawyer, a conscientious post cold war leader and the first democratically elected President – all this was through the use of his mind to imagine a better alternative for himself, his children and his people.