A Flawed Giant! The Fall, but not the End of Oscar Pistorius

2014-09-11 13:04

In most balances the court judgement on  Oscar Pistorius is swinging against the flood of the pestle wielding critics; the self appointed idle and idling twitter twittering activists who have been raining down vituperations. Most of the people did not even know why or how to pontificate on how the judgement should be severe to Oscar regardless and by all means.

Twitter commentary is good but sometimes it has the character of the simplistic, devoid of capacity to deal with nuanced engagement, and often leaves reason embattled.  Because people write things without putting them into perspectives. But anyway it is also important just note that no matter how wrong headed some of these comments are, they have value in that at the least, they make us reflect.

There has been lack of cool heads. The debate has been hovering on the low for some time. There is need to elevate the debate in the interest of  preserving constructive history in the light of the continuing judgement.

Oscar Pistorius is an object lesson in the complexity of human behaviour: a human puzzle so complicated it is hard to understand.

Oscar Pistorius is a character out of the Russian novel. A study in ambiguity - a storm of warring human passions: the bad and the best of the best all rolled into one.

We are talking about Oscar Pistorius: a human dynamo that conquered the Special Olympics, and he did this in a few years, leaving memories that has fascinated the world ever since. He broke global records and came back to Mother Africa triumphant with multiple honours of victory on his head. Oscar Pistorius is truly one of the outstanding Olympics icons of all times who had put indelible marks on the history of the Olympics.

Another aspect of this exceptionally extra-ordinary man with a larger-than-life personality is that his excellence in athletics extended in several directions. His reputation, success and prominence were so august that it made him to gain admittance into all strata of social considerations; shattering the glass ceiling of discrimination against disabled people a million pieces.

Oscar Pistorius' complexities can be simply told through a calabash of wisdom from ancient Sepedi African folk tale. There was once a canary bird called Shagane (sometimes called Tlhantlhagane in other parts of Limpopo), and was great among all other canary birds.  Shagane was a great warrior-wrestler, and he was well known in all Bapedi villages and beyond. His fame travelled far and wide. He was great; his name was talked about around the log fires. Young women of dazzling beauty often lost their breath and collapsed in love and attraction to him.

But the other day, Shagane ate a full and hot meal and for a brief moment got his valves of reason switched off. For only a brief moment after eating that stupendous meal Shagane lost his mind.  Within that brief unfortunate moment he challenged the god of all canary birds to a wrestling match. That challenge was an invitation to self destruction. 

Mr Shagane's challenge was accepted. The god of all canary birds clothed with divinity robes rose to avenge an insult paid to it by a mere mortal. And Shagane within split seconds was severely injured for life with a karate chop on the throat.

The moral of the story is that: Pride and fame corrupts, it gives way to narcissistic self worship that blows out the light of reason

In the hermeneutical prisms of the French philosopher Paul Ricoeur, no person thinks and acts from nowhere. We all carry the subconscious baggage of the various psycho-social milieu of our upbringing which go a long way to influence our reality. Lifelong habits and beliefs are the control tower of our lives.

Such is the truth with Oscar: nature and nurture has played huge influence in his life. In his childhood he was an emotional orphan – the offspring of an absent father.

Throughout his pained upbringing he suffered from feelings of emptiness which he quenched from constant physical activity.

In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle way back in 4th century before Christ wrote that character is produced by “habituation.” Character develops partly as a result of the person’s upbringing, and partly as a result of person’s habit of action. That is the essence of Oscar Pistorius’ life as we have seen throughout the court trial.

The human being, according to Aristotle, is not the source of wrong conduct, but the character that commits those actions is. Thus, an action is not judged good or bad based on the action itself, but rather its relation to the virtue of the person committing it.

Aristotle then takes one step forward and provides the primary reason why the act of murder is wrong: it is an act of bad character, and so certainly the action is performed by a person with bad character, thus the action is not only bad but also it illustrates the actor’s lack of virtue.

Aristotle wrote Nicomachean Ethics in pursued of a higher end, beyond the passing drama of everyday life. After all, Aristotle’s master Plato had argued that there is an eternal world of ideas; prototypes of the debased reflections of things that we have glimpses here on earth.

Aristotle presents proof for the necessary existence of an eternal, immaterial being, which Aristotle calls ‘God’. And this God, Aristotle said, is accessible to everybody only if you can close your mind from the passing drama of every day life.

On close encounter I have on two occasions personally witnessed Oscar Pistorius and his beautiful younger sister Aimee praying here in Pretoria during court breaks. And I wondered.

I have seen Oscar Pistorius at close range as he depart from the court and being escorted into a land rover, and saw some old lady with a bouquet of flowers jumping in the land rover and hugging Oscar and both crying and praying. And I wondered.

I seen him crying in court in front of the whole world. I have never seen a human being turned into such a quivering lump of flesh. And I wondered.

I wondered also upon hearing the news that Oscar Pistorius is a professing Evangelical Christian, who grew up in a Christian home. I wondered but recalled that there are practically billions of people who affirms Christianity yet Christianity does not touch the core of their hearts. To them, drunk with the wine of the world, Christianity  is just a mere confession.

But it is such dark tragic accidents, dark mistakes and dark ordeals as these that make a person to do a fundamental turn to God for good. Is this the case? Will Oscar Pistorius marry this great dark personal tragedy to a much more greater design? He must spend the time alone to know himself. He ought to tear down the facade he shown to the world, so that he may be able to know his deepest and truest values.

And now in this complex dark moment of human relations, let all of us make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not condemnation: to hold each other in the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of human family and walk together as children with a heart of love.

If you forgive other people you feel at one with them and you are healed of your separation and your spiritual illness.

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