Friends, Romans, Polemicists

The melting wax kept me from focusing during the Easter vigil. That is until I overheard a kid a few pews ahead tell his brother to hold the candle straight up. It was a reminder that everybody’s got something to share. 

If there are two things more challenging than locating a bike on the Broerplein, they are admitting our shortcomings, and being charitable to those with, let’s say, ‘misaligned’ points of view. It’s far easier, and a good deal more entertaining, to wax polemical about the topic at hand, preferably while preaching to our respective choir of choice. 

Not that I’m opposed to polemicists per se. Some of my best friends are polemicists, with moving orations on ‘the communal responsibility of domestic garbage disposal’, and ‘the importance of two-way communication in texting’ being addressed to me just in the last week. Yet, more often than not, polemics do more harm than good. 

I’ve seen one too many friendships go up in smoke over differences in socio-political/philosophical leanings

That maxim is doubly true in our charged times where polarisation, rather than benign indifference, is the order of the day. Maybe even triply so, given the cutthroat nature of our beloved ‘academic community’, and the not entirely unrealistic presupposition that every ‘doodnormale’ student is an activist of some stripe or other. 

Truth be told, I’m as guilty of it as your next utopian idealist. I’ve seen one too many friendships go up in smoke over differences in socio-political/philosophical leanings, varyingly as the ostraciser or outcast. I regret every single case however, if only because of the lost opportunity for a meaningful, human connection. 

It’s as if we’ve all turned Pelagian, denying our fundamental incompleteness as human beings. Perhaps I’m being naïve, but doesn’t that elusively mystical Easter spirit of reconciliation and new beginnings seem awfully attractive at the moment? It’s here that I can learn to value the importance of organisations like All Ears, @ease, and the GSp.

But wait, isn’t this vaguely worded column itself just a thinly veiled polemic against polemics that’s (feebly) masquerading as satire? Well, that might well be, though I’d give it the benefit of the doubt. 


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