Cape Argus

Xenophobia a result of ideas drilled into fertile minds


At the end of the fascinatin­g legend of King Arthur and his Round Table, Arthur dies, leaving behind Sir Lancelot with the once glorious kingdom blown to tatters, the Table in ruins and most of the stalwart knights killed in battle. And as Lancelot moves off from the enchanted Lake, thoroughly depressed at the hopelessne­ss for any future renaissanc­e and revival of previous glory, a youngster comes forward, grabs the despondent knight’s sword and shouts: “Camelot shall live again!” And the moral of the story fortunatel­y, and yet unfortunat­ely, is that once an idea is planted into the psyche, it seldom dies, but instead is implanted into the genetic make-up of progeny.

The current model of such ideas is again highlighte­d by the trigger points for continuous war in West Asia as Iran points accusing fingers at Israel for the assassinat­ion of their top nuclear scientist. Israel presently occupies land that they claim belongs to them from the days of Moses. The Palestinia­ns believe the opposite. Ideas like these, whether factual or imaginary, are passed on to future generation­s. Like that young man in Arthur's legend these are seldom questioned and never intelligen­tly discussed.

Similar ideas are dispersed by those that came before us. The common white person in this country still believes that South Africa is rightfully his. The Indian thinks that having been imported here as an indentured slave makes him an automatic citizen. Black people have been taught that they were the original occupiers of this land. The San tribes have now superseded that idea. Hindus in present India believe they were the original people to be born in that subcontine­nt. Everybody else is an invader.

All these images become virtual realities because they are born out of inherited ideas, not thoughts that have been worked out logically. Most of these claims and counter claims cannot be proved. All of these result in no- win wars that last forever. Resources are thoroughly destroyed by futile violence.

Xenophobia, locally, presently raises its horrible head only because ideas are drilled into fertile minds.

If ideas like these can cause such chaos throughout the world, is there no chance that positive ideas, instead, be tried by all of us to share the world in an equitable manner? Try seeking proper definition­s for “right” and “wrong”. These are thoroughly relative and vague. It makes them fuel for constant flare-ups all over the world. No country, no province or county, no family or individual, no business or institutio­n has material wealth that can be now more than ever before dispensed with easily and wasted.

Burnt trucks alongside freeways are a small grim reminder of how ideas once germinated cause gigantic nuclear explosions. Can ideas be actually harnessed? Or are they like runaway nuclear fission reactions which, once started are virtually impossible to contain and impossible to control? And is our final end going to be inevitably as a result of inheriting some very bad ideas? EBRAHIM ESSA | Durban

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