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Sunday night is Adam’s birthday and I hope to partake in the
celebration of his birth. I have never met him or engaged with him, but I
certainly know of him.
I am well aware of what he did. I am aware that his actions
have caused pain and that his mistakes have had enormous repercussions not just
for him and his family, but way beyond that. I am aware of the controversy that
surrounds him and that it is difficult to speak his name without questioning
his choices. And without shaking our heads in bafflement.
He had it all. He was in paradise. And he blew it.
But I also know that each of us carries a small part of Adam
with us wherever we go, and that there is an Adam in us all. Even if it makes
us uncomfortable to think it or to accept it.
Sunday night begins the celebration of the Jewish New Year.
The belief is that the date is not the actual day of “creation” but rather the
day of the birth of Adam. Of the first man. According the theologists, it is,
or would be, Adam’s 5779th birthday.
And it is his birth that I intend commemorating.
He was not without controversy. That he “sinned” as he did,
that he risked it all, that he was prepared to change the course of life for so
many has bothered writers, religious leaders and lay people for centuries.
The Fall of Man is one of the most debated and agonised
moments for those who believe in biblical history as much as those who do not.
Because no matter how literally one accepts that the Bible is or is not, there
is no one who doesn’t relate on a primal level to the person who had it all and
threw it all away.
The name Adam comes from the Hebrew word. It means “man”. He
is a symbol for us all.
South Africans cannot hear the name Adam without thinking of
our very own “sinner”. Adam Catzavelos, who, from his Greek paradise degraded
not only black South Africans but all people in a country that wishes so
desperately to right the wrongs of the past. He took us back to a period of
darkness and revulsion and in doing so, he freed and created more hate and more
racism that he ever could have intended.
As South Africans we owe it to ourselves to reclaim the name
Adam. When we hear the name, it is important that the first one that comes to
mind is not the man on a beach in Greece bragging that there are no black
people there. We need to remove that power from him and every other person who
prefers to spread hate rather than unity.
We need to be cognisant of the fact that Adam could just as easily
have been any one of us. He could have been Julius Malema, or our brother or son
or parent, or it could even be me. Adam exists in all of us. He was the first
man. Literal or figurative. And we all descend from him.
He has captured our imagination for centuries because we
know that there is truth to the behaviour, even if we don’t believe that there
is truth in the story. We all know that we have the capacity to do immense good
but that sometimes we make choices that not only destroy us, but also those
Today is the anniversary of the death of Mother Theresa. She
famously said, “If we have no peace, it’s because we have forgotten that we
belong to each other.” We are all
Sunday night is Adam’s birthday. It is also the Jewish New
Year. Jewish or not, let us use the time to remind ourselves that we are all linked.
It’s a great time to remind ourselves how much we impact on each other for good
and for bad.
It is time that we reclaimed Adam. It is time for us to
celebrate not only the mistakes he made but also the good that lies within him and
within us. The kindness that we all have inside us.
Happy birthday, Adam.
- Feldman is the author of Carry on Baggage and Tightrope and the daily breakfast show presenter on Chai FM.
Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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