Nelson Mandela did an incredibly brave thing in South Africa, launching the Truth and Reconciliation process after taking power.
The theory was that people would fess up to what they had done, giving the victims and their families some closure.
It’s hard to imagine how that worked: “Sorry, I beat your dad to death in a prison cell.”
The incredible part was that this was supposed to lead to some kind of reconciliation.
The very prospect that the truth – often incredibly unsavoury in that South African context – could be revealed and then lead, after some process, to any kind of reconciliation is quite an ask.
The idea seems worthy of a Jesus, Buddha, or a Ghandhi. Or Mandela.
Actually, it seems superhuman, if not inhuman – the most direct human responses to finding out what tragedy really happened to your family tends to be, immediately anyway, a thirst for vengeance.
Similar impulses – to confess – have been felt by soldiers. I have heard tearful former Dutch soldiers confessing their atrocities in Indonesia back when it first wanted independence from the Netherlands, and recently Israeli soldier veterans have testified against Israeli army abuses they have witnessed, or even taken part in.
The urge for retribution at learning such truths is such a powerful and obvious impulse that here in New Zealand, we are suitably awed by Christchurch woman Emma Woods.
No matter how hard your heart, you have to admire a woman who can spend any time whatsoever with the person she saw kill her son with an out-of-control car. It’s incredibly brave and I can’t begin to claim I would, or could, emulate this.
But boy, do I admire her. If even just ten per cent of humans were like Emma, I’m sure our past would not be so riven by conflict.
But I fear the percentage is under one per cent. Oh wait, Christians believe in forgiveness? Yeah, right.
The Wikileaks phenomenon is something else again. As it turns out (and really, we have been aware of this for a long time), there is much hidden as a matter of course by so-called ‘liberal, enlightened and democratic’ states. Concealed from you and me in the name of so-called ‘public interest’, making it pretty damn clear that we don’t actually live in states democratic enough to let the public make reasonable choices. How can we, with so much wool pulled over our eyes?
But that’s the intention. If we knew what they really did, we wouldn’t so vapidly vote them in.
And it’s clear they don’t trust us.
Which further begs the question – how can we vote a decent government in? They obviously don’t trust us with any real information. They don’t trust us to handle the information. For good reason – the information proves they are amoral and corrupt. We obviously are allowed to know very little about our governments, and/or their actual machinations.
For example, and admitting this is piddling by comparison to revelations from other countries, it has been revealed that New Zealand’s secret services renewed full contacts with US intelligence counterparts last year.
You may be forgiven for the reaction ‘so what?’.
Yet this was facile fact was deemed too sensitive for us to know – even Hilary Clinton was advised not to mention it.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the leaks also revealed our prime minister is a big fan of the US. Personally – he has been too careful to allow this (until this embarrassment) fact out into the public domain in case he get tarred with the ‘bend over and let ’em in’ Don Brash brush.
To my mind, Key isn’t that US-centric – he’s just a big fan of any established power and money and would fawn all over them alike.
Oh, that is ‘the Don Brash brush’?
On TVNZ, Key said “Going out there and saying we’ve resumed that level of exchange of information would then invite a whole lot of other questions which we are not in a position to answer.”
Which sounds like a clear invitation, to me. What questions and what answers, John?
This fawning excuse for a government has reaffirmed strong ties with a country which is so habitually and historically secretive, it is baying for the blood of a man who worked to reveal colossally and historically widespread lies and deceptions perpetrated by that government.
Even in the US, where the death penalty still exists in many places, they don’t kill people for burst condoms. Do they? (Perhaps Assange should be suing Durex?)
But Americans have plenty of other reasons, both real and imagined, like a global bunch of ignorant yokels – a Tea Party lynch mob is whipping itself into a frenzy.
Historically? Yes. Here’s just one instance: “Declassified CIA files have revealed that US intelligence officials went to great lengths to protect a Ukrainian fascist leader and suspected Nazi collaborator from prosecution after the Second World War and used him to stir up trouble inside the Soviet Union from an office in New York.”
This disgusts me profoundly. And I’m not defending the Soviet Union here – I certainly thing the Soviets were worse than the Americans. But I am still revolted by so much that “The land of the free …” actually stands for.
Behind the scenes, anyway.
So, I ask you: how are we supposed to reconcile to the fact, plain and simple, that John Key’s government does not trust us?
I am dissuaded from doing so.
I am deconciled.
Put that in lights. Merry Christmas.