What does success really mean?

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The true meaning of success

Define and refine and ja-well-no-fine

The definition of success has changed over the ages. We live in a grossly materialistic time, and more often than not success is measured in terms that relate to Forbes Ratings (in certain echelons) and cheap but shiny bling (in other circles). The value of a happy family life and personal integrity in business dealings seem to have taken a backseat, while conspicuous consumption and acquisitive delight have overtaken the quiet joy of self-sufficiency and living within one’s means.

The Way of the Samurai

The Bushido code has seven laws that comprise a successful life:

  1. “Gi” – Integrity (The ability to make the right choice even if nobody knows about it, to do what is right for the clan).
  2. “Yuuki” – Bravery, courage.
  3. “Jin” – Kindness and compassion to all regardless.
  4. “Rei” – politeness and caring.
  5. “Makoto”- Honesty (respecting the laws of the universe).
  6. “Meiyo” – enjoy the honour (honour can only be enjoyed when it is earned).
  7. “Chuugi” – Loyalty and trustfulness (unconditionally practised)

Nowhere is there the law that requires one to have things at the cost of others, to demand and display your wealth, to exploit and damage the planet for your own immediate comfort in order to be considered successful.

Closer to home

An extraordinary South African, Jan Smuts, was called by the Master of Christ’s College at Cambridge “one of the outstanding minds in 500 years of college history” (along with John Milton and Charles Darwin). He coined the term “holism’ and after Albert Einstein had read his book “Holism and Evolution”, he said the two mental constructs that will direct human thinking will be his own of relativity and Smut’s of Holism. In 1946 Smuts spoke to the world in a broadcast on BBC, emphasizing *that the human will not long be satisfied with materialistic achievements; that the debasing of values would end in force, that the advancement of culture and dignity of persons was the only antidote to violence.

This man was present at the signing of the treaty at Vereeniging ending the Anglo-Boer War, as well at the treaties at the end of World Wars I and II. How magnificently, tragically, prophetically right he has been: The humiliation of the Afrikaner by the British for centuries, and the evil machinations of the Jingoes (Rhodes and Milner) to engineer a war to steal the mineral wealth of this land, lead directly to enactment in the form of Apartheid, and the humiliation of the Germans at the end of the First World War culminated in the Second World War, exactly as predicted by Smuts. Look at the world at war in our time, and examine what mankind is doing to mankind, in Palestine and Syria, India and Israel… Then go back and back. Trace what has been done to groups that permit them to do what they are doing to others. Business acumen and amassing of wealth by the few, miracles of science and medical wonders, have not prevented us from harming our own kind. Then look at what Smuts said above.*

What does success mean to you?

Is success having a super-healthy bank balance or doing no harm? Does a successful society produce whole children who can of themselves impart meaning and impetus to their lives, or people that feel that happiness can only be found behind the steering wheel of an expensive car and surrounded by things that glister? Can a successful entrepreneur also be kind? Would success lie in finding a way to share the resources of the planet more fairly or in exhausting it for instant riches and with no thought given to our children’s children? Can we get away with lack of respect for one another or will we destroy ourselves in the process? Lack of dignity and respect is fertile soil for anger to grow, and it will target anything in its way, seldom reaching the actual cause.

What does success mean to you? Isn’t it time we redefined?

Author: Suenel Bruwer Holloway is a playwright, poet, speechwriter, translator and editor as well as guest writer. She specializes in satirical social commentary, the arts, education, book reviews and three course picnics. She comes from a long line of hat wearers.

Suenel is available for guest posts and can be contacted at the e-mail address provided.

Contact: florabundu@lando.co.za

EASTER HOLIDAY Reflections

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EASTER HOLIDAY

Memories of childhood – Easter Holidays

Easter always seemed to coincide with the end of the grape harvest, but whether that is factually true I do not know. Memories are always a conglomerate of what really was and how we would have liked things to be. Sometimes we delete things that were unbearably embarrassing or painful, and we contract several experiences into one to ‘package’ it into a manageable format. In the setting for many of my childhood memories, we seemed to have gallon tins with screw tops full of ‘moskonfyt’, a product from somewhere in the wine making process. Come Easter Time this would be baked into the most delicious sweet bread, ‘mosbolletjies’ . Sometimes it would have aniseed in it but around the end of harvest it would incorporate raisins, signifying the bounty that lasted from one season to the next. These would be soaked in hanepoot wine before being kneaded into the dough. Then fresh grapes (symbol of the current season’s blessing) would be placed on top of the bread just before it went into the oven. The European tradition of Hot Cross Buns for Easter, emerged very late in my childhood.

Bunnies and shining wrapping

How wonderful is childhood, when one utterly believes a benevolent bunny, carrying a basket of chocolate eggs wrapped in the most richly coloured golden and silver paper, knows of one’s existence and bothers to deliver a treat especially. I remember a weekend with family on a farm.  They had a storybook grandfather ( …. he actually wore yellow braces with a bright blue pattern of polka dots, to keep his trousers up as no belt could fit around his barrel tummy). We were all having milky tea and ‘mosbeskuit’ at the kitchen table, when suddenly this grandfather swore (an unusual and excitingly shocking occurrence), grabbed the bowl of lemons on the sideboard, and started forcefully hurling them over the closed bottom half of the stable door, loudly proclaiming that the blasted bunny is bl— eating his spinach in the vegetable garden outside the kitchen again. Needless to say by the time we had opened the door and rushed outside, the rascally rabbit was long gone, but amongst the carrots and parsley, the runner bean trellises and spinach, we found Easter eggs. No jewels could have been more precious.

Author: Suenel Bruwer Holloway is a playwright, poet, speech writer, translator and editor as well as guest writer. She specializes in satirical social commentary, the arts, education, book reviews and three course picnics. She comes from a long line of hat wearers.

Suenel is available for guest posts and can be contacted at the e-mail address provided.

Contact: florabundu@lando.co.za      

The true meaning of Easter

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THE TRUE MEANING OF EASTER

The true meaning of Sacrifice and Go(o)dwill

I have been lucky. For some years I taught at a diagnostic unit attached to a large hospital. It was for language disabled children.  Although many years ago, even then it was a cultural conglomerate so rich in diversity that one could not but absorb some of the flavour and values of several religions. Because we worked with children that were disadvantaged (in terms of learning), we shared at a deep level with the parents of those children. After all, we all had the children’s best interests at heart. During that time I was privileged to experience the very best forms of expression of several major religions, as we celebrated all the festivals and holy days of all the children in the unit. I recall Moslem, Hindu, Protestant, Catholic and Greek Orthodox Christian, Sufi, Jewish and Seventh Day Adventists families. One mother and her mute child were brought to the unit by a traditional Shona healer, a man who was also a sculptor who upheld universal ideals through his art. Somehow I do not recall any judgement. How enriching to the soul it was to share – ideas and sound moral principles, wonderful food and songs, symbolic exchanges of gifts and blessings.

EASTER –   No…. it does not mean “long weekend” or “marshmallow egg”

I am lucky still. I live far away from shops and the bling that seems to shout the odds for every possible occasion, encouraging a consumer interpretation of even the most sacred religious times. It is easier for those of us that lead a simpler life, to remember the true meaning of Easter. Remember that Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days and that this rigorous time of discipline and abstention is the forty days of Lent. I am not religious, but there are certain traditions in every religion that help me to reconsider what is important.

The last day of Jesus

The Stations of the Cross or Via Dolorosa (the way of grief) symbolises the events leading to the death of Jesus. He was betrayed by Judas, condemned by the Sanhedrin (the religious leaders of the time), denied by Peter, Judged by Pilate, crowned with thorns, and took up his cross. Simon of Cyrene helped him to carry his cross. He is nailed to the cross and is crucified. He promises the kingdom of heaven to the good thief. His mother suffers at his feet. He dies and is placed in the tomb.

 Hope of a new life

And then, on Easter Sunday, we think on the empty tomb, the terrible loss of Jesus of Nazareth who suffered for the sins of the world. But, as the sun rises, we arise with the resurrected Christ. One does not have to buy into the factual truth (or dispute it) to understand the powerful significance of the risen Christ. Jesus the man was crucified and died, but the Christ light is now within us. We have to continue with the task of unconditional love.

 

 

Author: Suenel Bruwer Holloway is a playwright, poet, speechwriter, translator and editor as well as guest writer. She specializes in satirical social commentary, the arts, education, book reviews and three course picnics. She comes from a long line of hat wearers.

Suenel is available for guest posts and can be contacted at the e-mail address provided.

Contact: florabundu@lando.co.za   

Ref: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markroberts./

   

THE NEW SOUTH AFRICAN BUDGET

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THE NEW SOUTH AFRICAN BUDGET

NENE’S NOBLE ATTEMPT

Let’s face it: our latterday finance ministers Trevor Manuel, Pravin Gordhan and now Nhlanhla Nene are rather clever. But in spite of the statutory “challenging but hopeful” refrain, even these smart chaps cannot spin gold from straw. (If you don’t know the fairy tale, google it and see what life lessons one can glean from old, old stories).

Unpack it as one might, Minister Nene’s budget speech to the nation is more of the same: Keep our fiscal policies progressive and make responsible choices. Surprise! Surprise!

PRO-POOR

            …………………………………or PROP-UP RHETORIC?

Oh yes, there was some token support for small business enterprises and some tax relief, but the bottom line remains: “Responsible choices are required!” One agrees, and of course alcoholic beverages and cigarettes should be heavily taxed. But no amount of ducking and diving can hide the fact that the budget deficit is under pressure, and thus the government’s ability to deal with pressing economic problems is restricted. Basic services are sadly lacking. Unemployment figures are high. Also, the very (small) businesses that are supposedly benefiting are the ones most crippled by road tolls and fuel levy demands. (We now pay R2.55 tax on every litre of petrol.) Silently and stealthily the disposable income of the poor is placed under even more pressure.

 CONTRA- INITIATIVE

Growth in the economy is further retarded by the reluctance of foreign investors to embark on initiatives that are restricted by property rights, corruption and unreliable electricity supplies. (Nobody seems to mind the tax levy for skills development, workman’s compensation and customs and excise taxes.)

BURDENS ON THE BASKET

Fiscal health is a slippery eel that is impossible to grip in slimy water. A fiscus is Latin for a basket or purse. Fiscal pertains to the public treasury; the fisc is the state revenue. A basket full of state dosh to fund the many things the ruling party is responsible for can become empty, you know. It is not a bottomless cup of coffee. It is not the Biblical widow’s urn. A huge civil service has to be paid from this basket. (Not to mention the many boards of enquiry into corruption charges against civil servants ….the court cases and ‘Cadillacs’.)

Government’s ‘commitment to positive retirement outcomes’ encourages personal accumulation of capital, (to the tune of untaxed savings of R500 000) which will reduce dependency on the basket. But, underlying this apparently sound (if pie-in-the sky for most of us) advice is the message:”You’re on your own! Don’t expect government to take care of you!” This is not in itself a bad message, but it is difficult to keep one’s eyes on that distant goal when clean water and effective education remain out of one’s reach. It sort-of dooms us (South Africans) into remaining dependent; into remaining financial basket cases.

Author: Suenel Bruwer Holloway

Suenel Bruwer Holloway is a playwright, poet, speech writer, translator and editor as well as guest writer. She specializes in satirical social commentary, the arts, education, book reviews and three course picnics. She comes from a long line of hat wearers.

Suenel is available for guest posts and can be contacted at the e-mail address provided.

Contact: florabundu@lando.co.za