Nov 3 2014

The Ten Pillars of Cutthroat Zen

by Shane Parrish

Dan Harris turned to meditation after a panic attack on live TV in front of millions of people.

In the back of his excellent book, 10% Happier: he writes a section that he wanted to call “The Ten Pillars of Cutthroat Zen” but ended up calling it “The Way of the Worrier”.

1. Don’t Be a Jerk
2. (And/ But . . .) When Necessary, Hide the Zen
3. Meditate
4. The Price of Security Is Insecurity— Until It’s Not Useful
5. Equanimity Is Not the Enemy of Creativity
6. Don’t Force It
7. Humility Prevents Humiliation
8. Go Easy with the Internal Cattle Prod
9. Nonattachment to Results
10. What Matters Most?

Don’t Be a Jerk

It is, of course, common for people to succeed while occasionally being nasty. I met a lot of characters like this during the course of my career, but they never really seemed very happy to me. It is sometimes assumed that success in a competitive business requires the opposite of compassion. In my experience, though, that only reduced my clarity and effectiveness, leading to rash decisions. The virtuous cycle that Joseph described (more metta, better decisions, more happiness, and so on) is real. To boot, compassion has the strategic benefit of winning you allies. And then there’s the small matter of the fact that it makes you a vastly more fulfilled person.

(And/ But . . .) When Necessary, Hide the Zen Be nice, but don’t be a palooka.

Even though I’d achieved a degree of freedom from the ego, I still had to operate in a tough professional context. Sometimes you need to compete aggressively, plead your own case, or even have a sharp word with someone. It’s not easy, but it’s possible to do this calmly and without making the whole thing overly personal.

Meditate

Meditation is the superpower that makes all the other precepts possible. The practice has countless benefits— from better health to increased focus to a deeper sense of calm— but the biggie is the ability to respond instead of react to your impulses and urges. We live our life propelled by desire and aversion. In meditation, instead of succumbing to these deeply rooted habits of mind, you are simply watching what comes up in your head nonjudgmentally. For me, doing this drill over and over again had massive off-the-cushion benefits, allowing me—at least 10% of the time— to shut down the ego with a Reaganesque “There you go again.”

The Price of Security Is Insecurity— Until It’s Not Useful

Mindfulness proved a great mental thresher for separating wheat from chaff, for figuring out when my worrying was worthwhile and when it was pointless. Vigilance, diligence, the setting of audacious goals— these are all the good parts of “insecurity.” Hunger and perfectionism are powerful energies to harness. Even the much-maligned “comparing mind” can be useful. I compared myself to Joseph, Mark, and Sharon, and it made me happier. I compared myself to Bianca and it made me nicer. I compared myself to Bill Weir, David Muir, Chris Cuomo, David Wright, et al., and it upped my game. In my view, Buddhists underplay the utility of constructive anguish. In one of his dharma talks, I heard Joseph quote a monk who said something like, “There’s no point in being unhappy about things you can’t change, and no point being unhappy about things you can.” To me, this gave short shrift to the broad gray area where it pays to wring your hands at least a little bit.

Equanimity Is Not the Enemy of Creativity

Being happier did not, as many fear, make me a blissed-out zombie. This myth runs deep, all the way back to Aristotle, who said, “All men who have attained excellence in philosophy, in poetry, in art and in politics . . . had a melancholic habitus.” I found that rather than rendering me boringly problem-free, mindfulness made me, as an eminent spiritual teacher once said, “a connoisseur of my neuroses.” One of the most interesting discoveries of this whole journey was that I didn’t need my demons to fuel my drive— and that taming them was a more satisfying exercise than indulging them. Jon Kabat-Zinn has theorized that science may someday show that mindfulness actually makes people more creative, by clearing out the routinized rumination and unhelpful assumptions, making room for new and different thoughts. On retreat, for example, I would be flooded with ideas, filling notebooks with them, scribbling them down on the little sheets of paper between sitting and walking. So, who knows, maybe Van Gogh would have been an even better painter if he hadn’t been so miserable that he sliced off his ear?

Don’t Force It

It’s hard to open a jar when every muscle in your arm is tense. A slight relaxation served me well on the set of GMA, in interpersonal interactions, and when I was writing scripts. I came to see the benefits of purposeful pauses, and the embracing of ambiguity. It didn’t work every time, mind you, but it was better than my old technique of bulldozing my way to an answer.

Humility Prevents Humiliation

We’re all the stars of our own movies, but cutting back on the number of Do you know who I am? thoughts made my life infinitely smoother. When you don’t dig in your heels and let your ego get into entrenched positions from which you mount vigorous, often irrational defenses, you can navigate tricky situations in a much more agile way. For me humility was a relief, the opposite of humiliation. It sanded the edges off of the comparing mind. Of course, striking the right balance is delicate; it is possible to take this too far and become a pushover. (See precept number two, regarding hiding the Zen.)

Go Easy with the Internal Cattle Prod

As part of my “price of security” mind-set, I had long assumed that the only route to success was harsh self-criticism. However, research shows that “firm but kind” is the smarter play. People trained in self-compassion meditation are more likely to quit smoking and stick to a diet. They are better able to bounce back from missteps. All successful people fail. If you can create an inner environment where your mistakes are forgiven and flaws are candidly confronted, your resilience expands exponentially.

Nonattachment to Results

Nonattachment to results + self compassion = a supple relentlessness that is hard to match. Push hard, play to win, but don’t assume the fetal position if things don’t go your way. This, I came to believe, is what T. S. Eliot meant when he talked about learning “to care and not to care.”

What Matters Most?

One day, I was having brunch with Mark and Joseph, forcing them to help me think about the balance between ambition and equanimity for the umpteenth time. After the entrées and before dessert, Joseph got up to hit the bathroom. He came back smiling and pronounced, “I’ve figured it out. A useful mantra in those moments is ‘What matters most?’ ” At first, this struck me as somewhat generic, but as I sat with the idea for a while, it eventually emerged as the bottom-line, gut-check precept. When worrying about the future, I learned to ask myself: What do I really want? While I still loved the idea of success, I realized there was only so much suffering I was willing to endure. What I really wanted was aptly summed up during an interview I once did with Robert Schneider, the self-described “spastic” lead singer for the psych-pop group, Apples in Stereo. He was one of the happiest-seeming people I’d ever met: constantly chatting, perpetually in motion— he just radiated curiosity and enthusiasm. Toward the end of our interview, he said, “The most important thing to me is probably, like, being kind and also trying to do something awesome.”


Apr 7 2014

16 Leadership Lessons from a Four Star General

1. Leadership is the single biggest reason for success or failure.

So, after a lifetime, what had I learned about leadership? Probably not enough. But I saw enough for me to believe it was the single biggest reason organizations succeeded or failed. It dwarfed numbers, technology, ideology, and historical forces in determining the outcome of events. I used to tell junior leaders that the nine otherwise identical parachute infantry battalions of the 82nd Airborne Division ranged widely in effectiveness, the disparity almost entirely a function of leadership.

“Switch just two people— the battalion commander and command sergeant major—from the best battalion with those of the worst, and within ninety days the relative effectiveness of the battalions will have switched as well,” I’d say. I still believe I was correct.

2. Leadership is difficult to measure.

Yet leadership is difficult to measure and often difficult even to adequately describe. I lack the academic bona fides to provide a scholarly analysis of leadership and human behavior. So I’ll simply relate what, after a lifetime of being led and learning to lead, I’ve concluded.

Leadership is the art of influencing others. It differs from giving a simple order or managing in that it shapes the longer-term attitudes and behavior of individuals and groups. George Washington’s tattered army persisted to ultimate victory. Those troops displayed the kind of effort that can never be ordered— only evoked. Effective leaders stir an intangible but very real desire inside people. That drive can be reflected in extraordinary courage, selfless sacrifice, and commitment.

3. Leadership is neither good nor evil.

We like to equate leaders with values we admire, but the two can be separate and distinct. Self-serving or evil intent motivated some of the most effective leaders I saw, like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. In the end, leadership is a skill that can be used like any other, but with far greater effect.

4. Leaders take us to where we’d otherwise not go.

Although Englishmen rushing into the breach behind Henry V is a familiar image, leaders whose personal example or patient persuasion causes dramatic changes in otherwise inertia-bound organizations or societies are far more significant. The teacher who awakens and encourages in students a sense of possibility and responsibility is, to me, the ultimate leader.

5. Success is rarely the work of a single leader.

… leaders work best in partnership with other leaders. In Iraq in 2004, I received specific direction to track Zarqawi and bring him to justice. But it was the collaboration of leaders below me, inside TF 714, that built the teams, relentlessly hunted, and ultimately destroyed his lethal network.

6. Leaders are empathetic.

The best leaders I’ve seen have an uncanny ability to understand, empathize, and communicate with those they lead. They need not agree or share the same background or status in society as their followers, but they understand their hopes, fears, and passions. Great leaders intuitively sense, or simply ask, how people feel and what resonates with them. At their worst, demigods like Adolf Hitler manipulate the passions of frustrated populations into misguided forces. But empathy can be remarkably positive when a Nelson Mandela reshapes and redirects the energy of a movement away from violence and into constructive nation-building.

7. Leadership is not popularity.

For soldiers, the choice between popularity and effectiveness is ultimately no choice at all. Soldiers want to win; their survival depends upon it. They will accept, and even take pride in, the quirks and shortcomings of a leader if they believe he or she can produce success.

8. The best leaders are genuine.

I found soldiers would tolerate my being less of a leader than I hoped to be, but they would not forgive me being less than I claimed to be. Simple honesty matters.

9. Leaders can be found at any rank and at any age.

I often found myself led by soldiers many levels junior to me, and I was the better for it. Deferring to the expertise and skills of the leader best suited to any given situation requires enough self-confidence to subjugate one’s ego, but it signals a strong respect for the people with whom one serves.

10. Charisma is not leadership.

Personal gifts like intellect or charisma help. But neither are required nor enough to be a leader.

Physical appearance, poise, and outward self-confidence can be confused with leadership—for a time. I saw many new lieutenants arrive to battalions and fail to live up to the expectations their handsome, broad-shouldered look generated. Conversely, I saw others overcome the initial doubts created by small stature or a squeaky voice. It took time and enough interaction with followers, but performance usually became more important than the advantages of innate traits.

Later in my career, I encountered some figures who had learned to leverage superficial gifts so effectively that they appeared to be better leaders than they were. It took me some time and interaction —often under the pressure of difficult situations—before I could determine whether they possessed those bedrock skills and qualities that infantry platoons would seek to find and assess in young sergeants and lieutenants. Modern media exacerbate the challenge of sorting reality from orchestrated perception.

11. Leaders walk a fine line between self-confidence and humility.

Soldiers want leaders who are sure of their ability to lead the team to success but humble enough to recognize their limitations. I learned that it was better to admit ignorance or fear than to display false knowledge or bravado. And candidly admitting doubts or difficulties is key to building confidence in your honesty. But expressing doubts and confidence is a delicate balance. When things look their worst, followers look to the leader for reassurance that they can and will succeed.

12. People are born; leaders are made.

I was born the son of a leader with a clear path to a profession of leadership. But whatever leadership I later possessed, I learned from others. I grew up in a household of overt values, many of which hardened in me only as I matured. Although history fascinated me, and mentors surrounded me, the overall direction and key decisions of my life and career were rarely impacted by specific advice, or even a particularly relevant example I’d read or seen. I rarely wondered What would Nelson, Buford, Grant, or my father have done? But as I grew, I was increasingly aware of the guideposts and guardrails that leaders had set for me, often through their examples. The question became What kind of leader have I decided to be? Over time, decisions came easily against that standard, even when the consequences were grave.

13. Leaders are people, and people constantly change.

Even well into my career I was still figuring out what kind of leader I wanted to be. For many years I found myself bouncing between competing models of a hard-bitten taskmaster and a nurturing father figure— sometimes alternating within a relatively short time span. That could be tough on the people I led, and a bit unfair. They looked for and deserved steady, consistent leadership. When I failed to provide that, I gave conflicting messages that produced uncertainty and reduced the effectiveness of the team we were trying to create. As I got older, the swings between leadership styles were less pronounced and frequent as I learned the value of consistency. But even at the end I still wasn’t the leader I believed I should be.

14. Leaders are human.

They get tired, angry, and jealous and carry the same range of emotions and frailties common to mankind. Most leaders periodically display them. The leaders I most admired were totally human but constantly strove to be the best humans they could be.

15. Leaders make mistakes, and they are often costly.

The first reflex is normally to deny the failure to themselves; the second is to hide it from others, because most leaders covet a reputation for infallibility. But it’s a fool’s dream and is inherently dishonest.

16. Leadership is a choice.

Rank, authority, and even responsibility can be inherited or assigned, whether or not an individual desires or deserves them. Even the mantle of leadership occasionally falls to people who haven’t sought it. But actually leading is different. A leader decides to accept responsibility for others in a way that assumes stewardship of their hopes, their dreams, and sometimes their very lives. It can be a crushing burden, but I found it an indescribable honor.

In the end, “there are few secrets to leadership.”

It is mostly just hard work. More than anything else it requires self-discipline. Colorful, charismatic characters often fascinate people, even soldiers. But over time, effectiveness is what counts. Those who lead most successfully do so while looking out for their followers’ welfare. Self-discipline manifests itself in countless ways. In a leader I see it as doing those things that should be done, even when they are unpleasant, inconvenient, or dangerous; and refraining from those that shouldn’t, even when they are pleasant, easy, or safe.

McChrystal’s memoir is entirely worth reading.


Feb 10 2013

Defining Investment

Generally, investment is defined by dictionaries as, transacting to produce income or profit.

There are only three investment groups; ownership, lending and cash equivalents.

Ownership Investment

This class of investment is the most volatile but also the most profitable.  Examples are:

  • Stocks/Shares.  From futures to currency swaps your expectation of profit depends on market valuation.
  • Business.  Entrepreneurship requires more than just ownership and capital.  Creating products, services and sales is risky, but the potential return is large.
  • Real estate.  Considering the 2008 mortgage meltdown it is dangerous to consider your primary residence an investment.
  • Precious Objects.  Gold, Platinum, Art and the like.  Like property there is the risk of depreciation with regard to damage and storage costs.

Lending Investments

A little lower risk but then lower returns.  You become the bank with associated risks.  Examples:

  • Your savings account.  You are lending your capital to the bank with pitiful returns.
  • Bonds.  A category from CDs (Certificate of Deposits) to International Debt Issues.

Cash Equivalents

Any cash investment that can be converted to cash immediately.

  • Money Market Funds.  Although the return is very small it usually is better than your savings account.  It is also very liquid in that you are able to present checks against your balance like an ordinary checking account.

Almost an Investment

Here we could think of our education, a cup of coffee to wake us up for longer working hours or a lawnmower to be more time efficient.  Consumer purchases depreciating over time are not investments.

Bottom Line

There are three types of investments: ownership, lending and cash equivalents.  There is no fourth category of consumer purchases.  Admittedly, it’s a clever piece of advertising that removes some of the guilt from impulse purchasing. The decisive test is whether there is a potential to turn a profit. The operative word here is; “potential” because not every legitimate investment makes money.  Making money through investing requires research and evaluating different investments, not simply knowing what is and is not an investment.  That said, being able to see the difference between an investment and a purchase is an essential first step.


Feb 1 2013

Trying Times; Will It End In Tears?

As the S&P 500 makes a run at its 2007 high, many stocks have already arrived there. Some big name companies have been making all-time highs, and the uptrends are looking very strong. But is this rally sustainable? Recent surges show strong buying interest, but rarely are such aggressive moves sustainable. Here we look at the possible entry points and danger signals in these high flying stocks.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) has had a great start to 2013; starting out the near $70 it closed Jan. 29 at $74.41, up about 6%. The stock recently broke out of a triangle pattern, which began in October, providing a target price of $76. Therefore, the stock looks to have a bit more room to go on the upside in the short term. Volume was quite light on the breakout though, so those looking for a better (lower) price in the coming weeks could get it. There are two old resistance levels that should now provide support on pullbacks – approximately $70 and $68. This is likely to provide a better long-term entry point. Watch the trendline that began in 2011; it currently intersects near $64 and a drop below that indicates further downside is likely.

 


Jul 17 2010

Liberation Theology and Social Justice: Glenn Beck.

Wondering if our friend has seen the light, or is just busy waking up?

Watch These Videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nezQeuHQrHU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qm0h0AFM5Vw&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zejiJl9FCjw&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zTWif_s_c4&feature=related

Glenn beck, I salute you! As you and Bill O’Reilly have pride of place in my day, I have watched you grow in stature to the admirable personality you have become. Now now, you are not there yet!  How beautiful and intense, the dichotomy of becoming less so His truth can become more and I admire your courage and resolve to serve your  truth regardless the consequence. Oh and consequence there will be!

I have seen and experienced the consequence of collective theology for longer than I care to remember. Our identity and character have been demeaned and slandered. Every noble intent ridiculed and labeled; Apartheid. Everything we’ve held dear, in terms of nation hood and culture broken down and spat upon. Used and abused as scapegoats and the reason why the ‘poor’ and ‘downtrodden’ black African is where they are today. Justifying their repugnant lifestyle of plundering and genocidal tendencies on every one, but themselves.

Well my friend, when I listen to your exhortations and appeals for your countrymen’s better judgment, I worry. We have been there. Hopefully you will find what is needed to stem the tide of apathy and avoid spiraling into the consequences of what every South African is part of today. My prayers are with you. But when you have seen and experienced what I have, this world can very suddenly become a very lonely place. Thank God, after allies, there is Him.


Jun 8 2010

AFRICA is giving nothing to anyone — apart from AIDS

This report by K. Myers appeared in an Irish newspaper “The Irish Independent.”

No. It will not do. Even as we see African states refusing to take action to restore something resembling civilisation in Zimbabwe, the begging bowl for Ethiopia is being passed around to us, yet again. It is nearly 25 years since Ethiopia’s (and Bob Geldof’s) famous Feed The World campaign, and in that time Ethiopia’s population has grown from 33.5 million to 78 million today.
So why on earth should I do anything to encourage further catastrophic demographic growth in that country? Where is the logic? There is none. To be sure, there are two things saying that logic doesn’t count.
One is my conscience, and the other is the picture, yet again, of another wide-eyed child, yet again, gazing, yet again, at the camera, which yet again, captures the tragedy of . . .
Sorry. My conscience has toured this territory on foot and financially. Unlike most of you, I have been to Ethiopia; like most of you, I have stumped up the loot to charities to stop starvation there. The wide-eyed boy-child we saved, 20 years or so ago, is now a priapic, Kalashnikov-bearing hearty, siring children whenever the whim takes him.
There is, no doubt a good argument why we should prolong this predatory and dysfunctional economic, social and sexual system; but I do not know what it is. There is, on the other hand, every reason not to write a column like this.
It will win no friends, and will provoke the self-righteous wrath of, well, the self-righteous, hand wringing , letter -writing wrathful individuals, a species which never fails to contaminate almost every debate in Irish life with its sneers and its moral superiority. It will also probably enrage some of the finest men in Irish life, like John O’Shea, of Goal; and the Finucane brothers, men whom I admire enormously. So be it.
But, please, please, you self-righteously wrathful, spare me mention of our own Famine, with this or that lazy analogy. There is no comparison. Within 20 years of the Famine, the Irish population was down by 30pc. Over the
equivalent period, thanks to western food, the Mercedes 10-wheel truck and the Lockheed Hercules, Ethiopia’s has more than doubled.
Alas, that wretched country is not alone in its madness. Somewhere, over the rainbow, lies Somalia, another fine land of violent, Kalashnikov-toting, khat-chewing, girl-circumcising, permanently tumescent layabouts.
Indeed, we now have almost an entire continent of sexually hyperactive, illiterate indigents, with tens of millions of people who only survive because of help from the outside world.
This dependency has not stimulated political prudence or commonsense. Indeed, voodoo idiocy it seems to be in the ascendant, with the next president of South Africa being a firm believer in the efficacy of a little tap water on the post-coital penis as a sure preventative against AIDS infection.
Needless to say, poverty, hunger and societal meltdown have not prevented idiotic wars involving Tigre, Uganda, Congo, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea etcetera.
Broad brush-strokes, to be sure. But broad brush-strokes are often the way that history paints its gaudier, if more decisive, chapters. Japan, China, Russia, Korea, Poland, Germany, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the 20th century have endured worse broad brush-strokes than almost any part of Africa.
They are now — one way or another — virtually all giving aid to or investing in Africa, whereas Africa, with its vast savannahs and its lush pastures, is giving almost nothing to anyone, apart from AIDS.
Meanwhile, Africa’s peoples are outstripping their resources, and causing catastrophic ecological degradation. By 2050, the population of Ethiopia will be 177 million: The equivalent of France, Germany and Benelux today, but located on the parched and increasingly protein-free wastelands of the Great Rift Valley.
So, how much sense does it make for us actively to increase the adult population of what is already a vastly over-populated, environmentally devastated and economically dependent country?
How much morality is there in saving an Ethiopian child from starvation today, for it to survive to a life of brutal circumcision, poverty, hunger, violence and sexual abuse, resulting in another half-dozen such wide-eyed children, with comparably jolly little lives ahead of them? Of course, it might make you feel better, which is a prime reason for so much charity! But that is not good enough.
For self-serving generosity has been one of the curses of Africa. It has sustained political systems which would otherwise have collapsed.
It prolonged the Eritrean-Ethiopian war by nearly a decade. It is inspiring Bill Gates’ programme to rid the continent of malaria, when, in the almost complete absence of personal self-discipline, that disease is one of the most efficacious forms of population-control now operating.
If his programme is successful, tens of millions of children who would otherwise have died in infancy will survive to adulthood, he boasts. Oh good: then what? I know. Let them all come here or America. Yes, that’s an idea.


May 4 2010

TROU

Woorde: JAN F.E. CELLIERS

Ek hou van ‘n man wat sy man kan staan,
ek hou van ‘n arm wat ‘n slag kan slaan,
‘n oog wat nie wyk, wat ‘n bars kan kyk
en ‘n wil wat so vas soos ‘n klipsteen staan!

Ek hou van ‘n man wat sy moeder eer,
in die taal uit haar vrome mond geleer,
die verraaiersgeslag in sy siel verag
wat, haar verstotend, homself kleineer.

Die oog wil ek sien wat ‘n traan nog ween
vir ‘n heldegeslag, in hul rus daarheen,
maar ‘n blits van trou in die traan van rou,
wat aan liefde weer gee wat haar bron is ontleen.

Vir my d’Afrikaner van durf en daad,
wat mammon’s eer en loon versmaad,
sy hoof en sy hand vir sy volk en sy land
en ‘n trap van sy voet vir laag verraad!

O, ‘k hou van ‘n man wat sy man kan staan;
ek hou van ‘n daad wat soos donder slaan,
‘n oog wat nie wyk, wat ‘n bars kan kyk
en ‘n wil wat so vas soos ‘n klipsteen staan!


May 2 2010

Why Africa Has Gone To Hell

Posted by James Jackson on January 08, 2010

White Zimbabweans [he means Rhodesians] used to tell a joke—what is the difference between a tourist and a racist? The answer; about a week.

Few seem to joke any more. Indeed, the last time anyone laughed out there was over the memorable headlining "BANANA CHARGED WITH SODOMY" (relating to the Reverend Canaan Banana and his alleged proclivities). Zimbabwe was just the latest African state to squander its potential, to swap civil society for civil strife and pile high its corpses. Then the wrecking virus moves on and a fresh spasm of violence erupts elsewhere. Congo, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, even Kenya. Take your pick, for it is the essence of Africa, the recurring A-Z of horror. And as surely as Nelson Mandela took those steps from captivity to freedom, his own country will doubtless shuffle into chaos and ruin.

Mark my words. One day it will be the turn of South Africa to revert to type, its farms that lie wasted and its towns that are battle zones, its dreams and expectations that lie rotting on the veldt. That is the way of things. Africa rarely surprises, it simply continues to appal.

When interviewed on BBC Radio, the legendary South African jazz musician Hugh Masekela spoke of the 350-year struggle for freedom by blacks in South Africa. The man might play his trumpet like a dream, but he talks arrant nonsense. What he has bought into is a false narrative that rewrites history and plays upon post-colonial liberal angst. The construct is as follows: white, inglorious and bad; black, noble and good; empire, bad; independence, good; the west, bad; the African, good. Forgotten in all this is that while Europeans were settling and spreading from the Cape, the psychopathic Shaka Zulu was employing his impi to crush everyone—including the Xhosa—in his path, and the Xhosa were themselves busy slaughtering Bushmen and Hottentots. Yet it is the whites who take the rap, for it was they who won the skirmishes along the Fish and Blood Rivers and who eventually gained the prize.

What suffers is the truth, and—of course— Africa. We are so cowed by the moist-eyed mantras of the left and the oath-laden platitudes of Bono and Geldof, we are forced to accept collective responsibility for the bloody mess that is now Africa. It paralyses us while excusing the black continent and its rulers.

Whenever I hear people agitate for the freezing of Third World debt, I want to shout aloud for the freezing of those myriad overseas bank accounts held by black African leaders (President Mobutu of Zaire alone is believed to have squirreled away well over $10 billion). Whenever apartheid is held up as a blueprint for evil, I want to mention Bokassa snacking on human remains, Amin clogging a hydro-electric dam with floating corpses, the President of Equatorial Guinea crucifying victims along the roadway from his airport. Whenever slavery is dredged up, I want to remind everyone the Arabs were there before us, the native Ashanti and others were no slouches at the game, and it remains extant in places like the Ivory Coast. Whenever I hear the Aids pandemic somehow blamed on western indifference, I want to point to the African native practice of dry sex, the hobby-like prevalence of rape and the clumps of despotic black leaders who deny a link between the disease and HIV and who block the provision of antiretroviral. And whenever Africans bleat of imperialism and colonialism, I want to campaign for the demolition of every road, college, and hospital we ever built to let them start again. It is time they governed themselves. Yet few play the victim card quite so expertly as black Africans; few are quite so gullible as the white liberal-left.

"On the eve of this millennium, Nelson Mandela and friends lit candles mapping the shape of their continent and declared the Twenty-first Century would belong to Africa. A pity that for every one Mandela there are over a hundred Robert Mugabe’s."

So Britain had an empire and Britain did slavery. Boo hoo. Deal with it. Move on. Slavery ended here over two hundred years ago. More recently, there were tens of millions of innocents enslaved or killed in Europe by the twin industrialized evils of Nazism and Stalinism. My own first cousins twin brothers aged sixteen—died down a Soviet salt mine. I need no lecture on eggplants and neck-irons. Most of us are descendents of both oppressors and oppressed; most of us get over it. Mind you, I am tempted by thoughts of compensation from Scandinavia for the wickedness of its Viking raids and its slaving-hub on the Liffe. As for the 1066 invasion of England by William the Bastard…

The white man’s burden is guilt over Africa (the black man’s is sentimentality), and we are blind for it. We have tipped hundreds of billions of aid-dollars into Africa without first ensuring proper governance. We encourage NGOs and food-parcels and have built a culture of dependency. We shy away from making criticism, tiptoe around the crassness of the African Union and flinch at every anti-western jibe. The result is a free-for-all for every syphilitic black despot and his coterie of family functionaries.

Africa casts a long and toxic shadow across our consciousness. It is patronized and allowed to underperform, so too its distant black Diaspora. A black London pupil is excluded from his school, not because he is lazy, stupid or disruptive, but because that school is apparently racist; a black youth is pulled over by the police, not because black males commit over eighty percent of street crime, but because the authorities are somehow corrupted by prejudice. Thus the tale continues. Excuse is everywhere and a sense of responsibility nowhere. You will rarely find either a black national leader in Africa or a black community leader in the west prepared to put up his hands and say It is our problem, our fault. Those who look to Africa for their roots, role-models and inspiration are worshipping false gods. And like all false gods, the feet are of clay, the snouts long and designed for the trough, and the torture-cells generally well-equipped.

I once met the son of a Liberian government minister and asked if he had seen video-footage of his former president Samuel Doe being tortured to death. Of course’, he replied with a smile. ‘Everyone has’. They cut off the ears of Doe and force-fed them to him. His successor, the warlord Charles Taylor, was elected in a landslide result using the campaign slogan He killed my ma, he killed my pa, but I will vote for him.

Nice people. Liberia was founded and colonized by black Americans to demonstrate what slave stock could achieve. They certainly showed us. Forgive my heretical belief that had a black instead of a white tribe earlier come to dominate South Africa, its opponents would not have been banished to Robin Island. They would have been butchered and buried there.

When asked about the problem of Africa, Harold Macmillan suggested building a high wall around the continent and every century or so removing a brick to check on progress. I suspect that over entire millennia, the view would probably be; bleak and unvarying.

On the eve of this millennium, Nelson Mandela and friends lit candles mapping the shape of their continent and declared the Twenty-first Century would belong to Africa • Whatever.                                                                                   

Meantime, the vast natural resources have been frittered and agricultural production since independence has halved. A pity that for every one Mandela there are over a hundred Robert Mugabe’s.

Visiting a state in west Africa a few years ago, I wandered onto a beach and marveled at the golden sands and at the sunlight catching on the Atlantic surf. It allowed me to forget for a moment the local news that day of soldiers seizing a schoolboy and pitching him head-first into an operating cement-machine. Almost forget. Then I spotted a group of villagers beating a stray dog to death for their sport. A metaphor of sorts for all that is wrong, another link in a word-association chain that goes something like Famine… Drought… Overpopulation… Deforestation… Conflict… Barbarism… Cruelty… Machetes.. Child Soldiers… Massacres… Diamonds… Warlords… Tyranny… Corruption… Despair… Disease… Aids… Africa

Africa remains the heart of darkness. Africa is hell.

Article LTRL: http://www.takirnag. corn/site!article/why_Africa_has_ gone_to_hell/

About the Author

James Jackson is the bestselling author of historical thrillers including Blood Rock and Pilgrim. As a postgraduate he specialized in analyzing future trends in international terrorism, was Called to the Bar, and worked for many years as a political-risk consultant. His non-fiction publications include The Counter-terrorist Handbook. He is based in London.


May 2 2010

Mandela: The legend and the Legacy.

This article appeared on the blog of Sarah. Sarah is an Englishwoman endowed with an incisive and razor-sharp understanding of South Africa’s recent history. Unlike so many millions of brain-washed lemmings in the UK, she sees right through the media-contrived smoke & mirrors, lies and myths as propounded by the MSM). By Sarah; Maid of Albion.

It is often said that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, however, this usually means that the other man has been less than fastidious in his choice of hero, or that the ‘freedom fighter’ in question was on the crowd pleasing side.

On the 27th of June, London’s Hyde Park will play host to a concert in honour of Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday and we can be assured that it will receive wall to wall coverage by a star struck and worshipping media, who will continue to laud Mandela as one of the greatest, or indeed the greatest, heroes of our time. No doubt the beaming old man will appear on stage in one of his trademark multi-coloured shirts and cheerily acknowledge the cheers of the adoring crowd, most of whom have been taught to believe in his sainthood since their first days in primary school, which, for many of them, will have occurred around the same time their hero walked free from Robben Island.

The unquestioning belief in Mandela’s universally admired saintliness will again be displayed in the press and by the unending line of politicians and dignitaries who will queue up to genuflect before him and sing his praises. It is a brave politician or journalist who would dare to question the godliness of this legend and consummate showman, and hence no such questions will be raised, nor will his much vaunted ‘achievements’ be subjected to any objective scrutiny. No matter how many speeches are given or how many news articles are written, it is safe to bet that the full truth about Mandela will not be told.

In fact the truth about Mandela is so hidden in mythology and misinformation that most know nothing about him prior to Robben Island, and those who do tend to exercise a form of self censorship, designed to bolster the myth whilst consigning uncomfortable facts into the mists of history. For most people all they know about Mandela, prior to his release in 1990, was that he had spent 27 years in prison and was considered by many on the left at the time (and almost everyone now) to be a political prisoner. However, Mandela was no Aung San Suu Kyi, he was not an innocent, democratically elected leader, imprisoned by an authoritarian government.

Of mostly black deaths, the ANC’s blood spattered history is frequently ignored, but reminders occasionally pop up in the most embarrassing places. Indeed as recently as this month the names of Nelson Mandela and most of the ANC remained on the US government’s terrorist watch list along with al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Tamil Tigers. Of course the forces of political correctness are rushing to amend that embarrassing reminder from the past. However, Mandela’s name was not on that list by mistake. He was there because of his Murderous past.

Before I am accused of calumny, it should be noted that Mandela does not seek to hide his past, in his autobiography ‘the long walk to Freedom’ he casually admits ’signing off the 1983 Church Street bombing carried out by the ANC and killing 19 innocent people whilst injuring another 200. It is true that Mandela approved that massacre and other ANC killings from his prison cell, and there is no evidence that he personally killed anyone but the same could be said about Stalin or Hitler, and the violent history of the ANC, the organisation he led is not in question.

According to the Human Rights Commission it is estimated that during the Apartheid period some 21,000 people were killed, however both the UN Crimes against Humanity commission and South Africa’s own Truth and Reconciliation Commission are in agreement that in those 43 years the South African Security forces killed a total of 518 people. The rest, (some 92%) were accounted for by Africans killing Africans, many by means of the notorious and gruesome practice of necklacing whereby a car tyre full of petrol is placed around a victim’s neck and set alight. This particularly cruel form of execution was frequently carried out at the behest of the ANC with the enthusiastic support of Mandela’s demonic wife Winnie.

The brutal reappearance of the deadly necklace in recent weeks is something I shall reluctantly focus upon later. Given that so much blood was on the hands of his party, and, as such, the newly appointed government, some may conclude that those who praised Mandela’s mercy and forgiveness, when the Truth and Reconciliation tribunal set up after he came to power, to look into the Apartheid years, did not include a provision for sanctions, were being deliberately naive. Such nativity is not uncommon when it comes to the adoring reporting of Nelson Mandela, and neither is the great leader himself rarely shy of playing up his image of fatherly elder statesman and multi-purpose paragon.

However, in truth, the ANC’s conscious decision to reject a policy of non-violence, such as that chosen by Gandhi, in their struggle against the white government, had left them, and by extension, their leader, with at least as much blood on their hands as their one time, so called oppressors. This fact alone prevented them from enacting the revenge which might otherwise have been the case. As the first post Apartheid president of South Africa it would, be unfair if not ludicrous to judge Mandela entirely on the basis of events before he came to power, and in any event there is many a respected world leader or influential statesman with a blood stained past so in the next part shall examine Nelson Mandela’s achievements, and the events which have occurred in South Africa in the 14 short years since he took power.

Part one of a two part series.


Apr 28 2010

Following the post Apartheid election in 1994. Mandela: The Legend and the Legacy

(Part 2 By Sarah, Maid of Albion In the second of two articles examining the life of Nelson Mandela, in advance of Friday’s concert in Hyde Park celebrating the living legend’s 90th birthday).

I shall look at his legacy and the new South Africa which he created after coming to power on a surge of worldwide optimism and hope in 1994. Following the end of Apartheid, he and his followers promised a new dawn for what became termed, ‘The Rainbow Nation’. 

Today South Africa stands out as one of the most dangerous and crime ridden nations on Earth which is not actively at War. In 2001, only seven years after the end of Apartheid, whilst the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands with 5.6 murders per 100,000 population was declared the ‘murder capitol of Europe’, Johannesburg, with 61.2 murders per 100,000 population and remains the world’s top murder city.

In South Africa as a whole, the murder rate is seven times that of America, in terms of rape the rate is ten times as high and includes the ugly phenomenon of child rape, one of the few activities in which South Africa is now a world leader. If you don’t believe me, you can read what Oprah Winfrey has to say about it here. All other forms of violent crime are out of control, and Johannesburg is among the top world cities for muggings and violent assault, a fact seldom mentioned in connection with the 2010 World Cup which is scheduled to be hosted in South Africa . As always with black violence the primary victims are their fellow blacks, however, the rape, murder and violent assault of whites is a daily event, and there is more …..

As with the Matabeleland massacres, news of which the BBC, together with much of the world media suppressed for twenty years to protect their one time hero, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, another secret genocide is being ignored by the world media, the genocide of white Boer farmers, thousands of whom have been horribly tortured to death in their homes since the end of Apartheid. Anyone who clicks on this link should we warned that it includes some very gruesome images as the savagery of these attacks belie the authorities attempts to dismiss them as nothing more than a ‘crime wave’.

Given that it is now all but illegal in South Africa to report the race of either victim or the perpetrator of a crime (unless the perpetrator is white and the victim black) and as modern South Africa’s official crime statistics are notoriously massaged, it is impossible to know the exact numbers of farm murders that have taken place. Many reliable sources estimate the figure as close to 3,000, but even if we take the more conservative figure of 1,600 quoted in the politically correct South African press (but not quoted at all in ours) this is three times the numbers killed by the South African security forces over a period of 43 years, and which the UN calls a crime against humanity.

To put this in perspective, the population of South Africa is 47 million, (13 million less than Britain despite its far greater land mass) of which the 4.3 million whites account for 9.1%, about 1% less than the immigrant population of Britain . Can you imagine the outcry if 1,600 (let alone 3,000) members of a minority community in Britain were tortured to death by the native population?. Yet when the victims are white, there is hardly a peep in the South African press and silence from the international media. Compare this to when a white youth is the killer, such as in the case of Johan Nel, who shot three Africans, a story which became instant world wide news with the predictable screams of racism and machete wielding mobs baying for his blood. (And they accuse us of hate?!! Don’t such people nauseate themselves with their hypocrisy?!)

Crime aside, Mandela and his ANC inherited the strongest economy in Africa, indeed, despite economic sanctions, South Africa was still one of the richest world nations, and indeed initially there was a brief post Apartheid boom, resulting from the lifting of sanctions and due to the fact that until affirmative action forced most of the whites out of their jobs to be replaced by under qualified blacks, those who had built South Africa were still in place. However, any optimism was to be short lived. Now, after just 14 years of rule by Mandela and his grim successor Mbeki, corruption is rife, the country is beset with power cuts and the infrastructure is crumbling.

The nation’s great cities like Durban and Johannesburg, which could once rival the likes of Sydney, Vancouver and San Francisco, had descended in to decaying crime ridden slums within a decade. And in the last few weeks we have seen the so called Rainbow nations ultimate humiliation, as xenophobic anti immigration violence spreads across the country. (‘xenophobic’ is what the media call racism when blacks do it) As poverty and unemployment explodes and is exacerbated by the floods of immigrants flooding in to escape the even more advanced Africanisation of the rest of the continent, the mobs turn on those they blame for stealing their jobs, their homes, and their women.

Thus the cycle turns, and, like watching some barbaric version of ‘back to the future’, on the news we see exactly the same scenes we saw on our televisions twenty years ago, wrecked buildings, burning vehicles, mobs brandishing machetes, axes and knives hacking at everything and everyone which comes within their reach. Most horrific of all, we see the return of that most savage symbol of African brutality, the necklace where, to the cheers of a blood thirsty crowd, some poor trembling soul, with a tire around his neck, is dragged from his home and set alight, exactly as all those other poor souls were set alight throughout the Apartheid years, when we were told it was all the evil white man’s fault.

As nothing else the return of the necklace exposes the failure of Mandela’s revolution, and those who fought for him should weep. Under Apartheid, blacks and whites went to separate hospitals but they received world class health care, whatever their colour. Now the facilities are collapsing or non-existent. Black children went to different schools than white children, but they received an education, something which is now a privileged luxury. When they grew up, their bosses may have been white, but they had jobs and a living wage, as the recent violence shows us, such security is but a memory for most South Africans. Eighteen years after Nelson and Winnie made their historic walk towards the cameras, and 14 years, since Mandela assumed power on a tide of optimism, a once proud South Africa slides like a crumbling, crime ridden, wreck towards a precipice created through greed, corruption and incompetence.

For all his gleaming smiles, grandfatherly hand gestures, and folksy sound bites, tomorrow night, when crowd cheers the retired terrorist in the gaudy shirt, they would do best not to focus too closely upon his much admired legacy, as they might just find that the Xhosan Emperor has no clothes. For Nelson Mandela’s lasting achievement is that, in the face of a world wishing him well, he, and the party he leads, have shown the world that, for all its flaws, Apartheid was a more benign system than what replaced it, and that the average South African was immeasurably better off under the hated white rule than they are under the alternative which black rule has created. That is quite an achievement, Mr Mandela, happy birthday.