Jul 4, 2012

Don’t judge the man in the street

My grandmother had a saying that one should never judge people less fortunate than you. And that is so true. I have a gardener, Bennett, who comes every second week to mow the lawn. Up and down the street he goes with his lawnmower looking for customers with long grass. He learned that I was a writer and every two weeks he would ask me about writing, and eventually this week said he had written 800 words and could I read it and give my opinion. I said yes, and the next day the piece arrived in the email.

I was astounded by what he had written and the subject he chose. I felt so bad after finishing reading the article. It was flawless writing and the piece was titled African Development, the story of a 37 year old guy called Justin Brogan who was born in England and had an African dream and traveled from one side of Africa to the other in search of funds “for a better life for all forever”.

In 2004, in Mozambique, he traveled through villages and noted the sad state of living conditions, especially with children who were using charcoal or sticks to write. He wanted to make a difference and provided educational material in the form of pencils, pens, crayons and other educational stuff. “Out there in rural areas are forgotten children,” he said. “I am trying to put them on the map.

Known as the Chummer for his Land Rover hummer, Brogan has traveled to Swaziland, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Namibia and Botswana all on his own and said of his expedition: “My challenges included funds for fuel, vehicle services, accommodation and food for this 20 000km journey.” After reading this piece I felt ashamed of my own prejudices and thinking and felt properly humbled. In all the time Bennet has been cutting my lawn, I knew nothing about him; yet my gardener who was born in Africa has a higher education than I have.


Do you love someone enough to let him go?

You have been married for several years, you married your best friend, you have had eight glorious years together, but while you love your partner dearly as a friend, you are not in love. One night your partner comes home from work and tells you that he has met someone, and that he is in love. He says he is being honest with you by telling you and that if you don’t want him to leave, he will stay.

What do you do? He is your best friend. How can best friends do that? But you understand because you too are not in love. You have always understood one another. You have enjoyed the best that friendship can offer. Do you get angry and threaten him? If you were not married to him you would know what to say and what you would do is give him the same advice you would give to a friend – and that is to tell him to follow his heart and that you wish him well. Can friendship extend that far? Can one be that understanding that one can give up one’s partner for the sake of good friendship?

Hard as it may be to believe, the best would be to release your friend from his marital obligation. If you yearn for someone else, the relationship eventually becomes toxic if you don’t leave. We cannot make someone love us, and fighting about it will not work. If you consider that your own marriage was based on a deep friendship, all your partner is guilty of is telling you. As your friend and not as a partner, he was honest. You cannot help if you fall in love with someone else. Arguing will not bring him back; not emotionally and not from the heart.

Give your friend your blessings and be happy for him. You can still be friends. Remember that episode in Seinfeld where Jerry and Elaine refrained from having sex, ‘for the sake of the friendship’? If you were such good friends, giving up the sex is not a big deal as you will always have that person’s back and his friendship.


Was the writing on the wall for Katie Holmes long ago?

It absolutely was. A blind man couldn’t have missed it. It was and is on the wall starting as far back as Nicol Kidman. Converting to another belief system is fraught with confusion and the person to be converted, rightly, should be her own person and not be forced to do something she does not believe in. The Cruiser seems inflexible and this problem of converting a spouse to Scientology has gone on long enough and should stop. Bravo to Miss Holmes! My father used to say that if you want to convert someone to your faith you’d better have a big net under him as he falls. And this has indeed happened.

In the Qur’an God states, ‘there is no compunction in religion’ meaning that you should not try to convert or alienate someone from his own faith. Everyone has a choice. What broke the camel’s back in this instance is that Katie Holmes considered the needs and rights of the children and that they should not be forced into choosing Scientology over Christianity. She was right. By the age of five or six a child should have a religious identity. He should know who he, what his belief is; is he going to go to church, to mosque, to the synagogue or the temple. In other words, if the Cruiser gets custody, they are going to grow up following the Christian faith.

Tom Cruise for this writer has always struck me as controlling and he has three marriages to attest to the fact that you can drag a horse to the well but you can’t make him drink. Katie Holmes feared that if she stayed on in the marriage the veil of Scientology would always hang over them and nothing would vindicate the damage that might ensue. It had to be done, and while it is painful, the needs and rights of the children have to be considered and come first. If he is a father who wants the best for his kids, he would understand this and encourage his children in their new faith. It would be cruel to their emotional welfare if they visited with him and he insisted on Scientology being taught to them instead of their religion of choice.