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Analysis of and commentary on South African politics from a liberal perspective. Winner: Best Political Blog 2012.

Tag: Low Self Esteem

On pettiness


TheThingAboutSERIES: Far too much of debate is defined by pettiness – that is, the superficial and, often, ad hominem response to argument. It works like sickness, once injected into a discussion its effect is difficult to resist and, before you know it, the meaningful exchange of ideas has devolved down to the trading of insults. Being petty is the attitude of bully; overlooking it, the key to intellectual progress and a sure sign of maturity and self-awareness.

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On the nature of victimhood


ARTICLE: There is a strong case to be made that South Africa is nation of victims. And here I do not mean in the literal sense – for there are many who can objectively be described as victims of some great injustice – I mean as an attitude – victimhood: we suffer low self-esteem, we lack agency and we generally see circumstance as our ever-present tormentor. This is to our great disadvantage, for victimhood is a sure path to apathy and, with it, further injustice.

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Why difference is important


ARTICLE: Every single person on this planet is different in some way unique to them. Most people have one of two responses to that: either it is the source of insecurity or pride. For those who feel uncomfortable with difference, comfort is found in conformity. That is no bad thing, but when those same people take that fear to an extreme level and try to outlaw difference in others, in order that everyone might be the same, that is not only a sure path to authoritarianism but to misunderstand the very value and wonder of difference itself.

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On low self esteem


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. What are the effects of low self esteem? It is a permanent force in our lives. Unrestrained its impact on our approach to control can be dramatic. On the one hand, driving a desire for power and respect; on the other, it is able to reduce someone to a victim, unable to act and inhibited by self doubt.

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Excellence as an antidote


ARTICLE: In the piece below Wilmot James makes a fairly profound point: that excellence and its pursuit can be a mechanism through which reconciliation can be achieved. That is, to my mind, an entirely original approach. And quite true too: for a country that suffers low self esteem and over which victimhood has such a strong hold, what can be a better anecdote than setting high standards and then achieving them? Something to think about.

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On loss


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. Loss is as much a part of democratic life as victory but a far harder outcome to accept. And many resist it, long after it is no longer negotiable. Not accepting it is, of course, one thing but to try change the rules in order to negate it, far more problematic behaviour.

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