The Moral Progress We Make in Our Emerging Democracy and Human Rights-Premised Society Is Inversely Proportional to the Silences We Keep

Cape Times (South Africa), May 15, 2012 | Go to article overview

The Moral Progress We Make in Our Emerging Democracy and Human Rights-Premised Society Is Inversely Proportional to the Silences We Keep


The moral progress we make in our emerging democracy and human rights-premised society is inversely proportional to the silences we keep.

In general, we humans learn quite early on in life how and when to shut up, and do so for specific reasons. There is cost and benefit to the silences we so often voluntarily keep. But to have an act of Parliament force us to hou-den-bek and keep certain state information protected and secret - information generated on the back of taxpayers' money - smacks of overkill.

"Hou-den-bek" is the apt name Andr[c] Brink gave to one of the farms in his slave insurrection novel, A Chain of Voices. The expectation is: slave, lumpenproletariat, as long as you shut-up, hou-den-bek, and act the good slave, I the slave master will go unchallenged forever.

However, in this novel the slaves happened to not hou-den-bek. In this there is a moral lesson for us; speak your truth, and never be held negatively responsible for the things you happened to not do.

But be considered complicit in the things that you did not do anything about, the things that could have been different in outcome if you had the guts to not hou-den-bek. Or for that matter, vote against the info bill in Parliament.

Legally enforcing silences in society would once again return us to a situation where there is no challenge to a new power and authority running a new animal (slave) farm where once again some are considered more equal than others, some more worthy of knowing than others, leaving a new class of people in power and authority classifying information as unwarranted for public consumption. …

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