We are in a global pandemic far worse, and far more
dangerous, than the Covid19 pandemic.
This pandemic could be called The Cult of Victimhood (or,
The Loss of our Humanity).
There have been signs simmering under the surface of society
for a few years; since 2020, these have bubbled ever closer to the edge until,
with the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the deadly virus boiled over into society’s
This virus has bred a society of victims who celebrate the
death of an elder, a woman so old that there are 101 years between the birth of
her first Prime Minister and her last.
One hundred and one years. Think about that for a moment.
How can any of us born in this modern era know or understand the personal
cost she paid to meet the demands of a Head of State in an era that spanned an
unprecedented amount of social change?
Prejudice is a race-less, gender-less and faith-less human condition and thus every human being, regardless of our race, gender or faith, possesses the capacity to be blind to our own inviolable prejudices. Those who are unable to separate the woman from the symbolism of Queen to the
extent that in her final hours wish her “excruciating pain” or who celebrate her
death are as prejudiced as the worst colonisers human history has seen.
I began to lose hope in the ultimate goodness of humanity in
2016, when Trump was elected President. Now, with the vicious, and at times
downright evil, rants surrounding Queen Elizabeth II’s death, I fear humanity
is entering a collective dark night of the soul. We have never been closer to
the abyss that irrevocably separates good from evil.
The moral debates around the collective’s past norms must and
should continue: slavery; colonialism; reparation; economic, gender and race
inequalities — there is still so much that needs to be addressed before each of
us can live up to our highest potentials as unique individuals contributing to
the greater good of all. We are not free from suffering until all of us are free.
But one of the dangerous side-effects of this cult-of-victimhood
virus is a sense of entitlement that justifies a rage allowing no other suffering and pain except one’s own to be heard.
Is this brave new world, this world that iconic figures such
as Martin Luther King Jr dreamed would be a place where people are not “judged by
the colour of their skin but by the content of their character” merely the flip
side of the old world with a new kind of “vicious racist” that by their very
nature create, in turn, new injustices in an attempt to redress centuries-old
injustices of an outdated and flawed system that perpetrated unspeakable
cruelties against humanity?
The vindictive behaviour of so many on the death of Queen
Elizabeth II begs the question: are we as a species any more civilised than those
blood-thirsty crowds baying for blood as gladiators clashed in the Colosseum?
Are we any kinder than Shaka, that
most powerful of Zulu Kings who, on the death of his mother, was so filled with
grief that he ordered any woman who became pregnant to be executed along with
her husband and unborn child?
Surely, surely, in the name of our humanity, this
necessary narrative on how to create a better world for all could have been suspended
to acknowledge the decades-long personal sacrifice and effort of a young woman who
did her best to serve her country and her peoples under the accepted norms of
Just as no-one consciously chooses to be born into slavery or poverty,
or black or white, or male or female, the Queen did not consciously choose the role that
was thrust upon her at the young age of 25.
Yet, two days before her death at age 96, and seriously ill, she held
steady and performed her final state duty with a smile on her face.
There is nothing humane, or just, about the appalling
viciousness of Prof Uju Anya’s tweet, or the EFF’s
official statement on the Queen’s death, or Irish
football fans or Irish
ex-pats celebration during Queen Elizabeth II’s final days and death. Professor
Anya is in the position to mould the minds of her young students; the EFF is an
influential opposition political party.
What kind of world is their prejudice, anger and hatred going to create? It's worth considering that history shows us, while King Shaka’s pain and suffering were no doubt the root of his cruel actions, that moment of savagery led to his downfall.
To those who, like the self-styled “anti-racist” Professor Anya,
try to justify their cruel and merciless behaviour as “fair and just” because
of the history of what the Queen symbolised, I ask this: if, with retrospective
moral judgement, you condemn individuals who lived to their highest potential within
a system that, when it existed, did not know it was horribly flawed by present
day moral standards, how will a more
evolved future society judge your actions around the suffering and death of another
Under the categorial imperative of moral rectitude, what is unjust
when done to you, is also unjust when done by you. Nelson Mandela
intuitively understood this. Despite his suffering, despite his humiliation, he
rose above his pain and was able to separate the role of apartheid jailer on
Robben Island from the man Christo Brand, and an
unlikely friendship was forged.
How much more powerful it is to bring about
the changes you want in the world through love rather than through a hatred that leaves no place for our common humanity!
To those who danced at the Queen’s passing, I leave you to
consider the words of my late husband’s mentor and friend, Judge Bernard Makgabo Ngoepe. In his
recently published memoir, Rich
Pickings Out of the Past [Juta Law, 2022], the Judge says “How did we,
as humans, reach a point where the [death] of a head of state, a fellow human
being, became a cause for celebration? …for change to occur we foolishly tend
to embark on ways that will inevitably lead to our demise.”
When future generations, still wounded and in pain from aeons of cyclical ancestral
pain and suffering, look back on how our society responded to the
death of Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, an elderly woman — a human being
— who also happened to be called Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, what
will they think of the loss of our humanity?
NOTE: King Charles III has been an
advocate for climate change and an environmental activist since the early
1970’s. In 1975, the King established the
Prince’s Trust, which has helped more than one million young people of all
races, genders and faiths improve their lives. Long may his work continue.