Koos Kombuis

The cherry on the koek

2011-12-06 13:14
My hairdresser remarked to me the other day how sorry she felt for Jackie Selebi.

"Sorry? Why?" I asked. "He's as guilty as shit."

"He was a good man once," she insisted. "He found himself surrounded by corruption, and allowed it to become part of him. It probably started with something really small, and eventually got out of control."

I could think of similar examples in my own life. Like the time I cheated on my diet by eating peanut butter straight from the jar. Only once, I told myself. The next day, it was some cookies from the cookie tin. Before I knew it, I'd picked up two of the fourteen kilo's I had worked so hard to lose this last year. Agony!

Indeed, we are all surrounded by corruption. Our vision of morality has become a fleeting glimpse of half-forgotten principles we were taught way back in Sunday school. And even if those relatively few instances when we are sure of what is right, it's just so damn easy to give in. It's almost as if society encourages us to lie, cheat, and do all sorts of terrible things!

Take this diet of mine, for instance. I started dieting last year because I found out that I had a slightly above average cholesterol count. My GP wanted to prescribe medication, but our medical insurance refused to pay for it. "You are not a high risk case," they explained. "You are not a smoker."

"Do I understand you correctly? You mean, you guys actually want me to smoke, otherwise you won't pay for my pills?"

Only later, it occurred to me that the situation was even worse. Instead of taking up smoking again, I could have simply lied to them and told them I'm a smoker, in which case they would have coughed up the money. What an ethical dilemma!

The most crucial detail

Two weeks ago, our kitchen door fell off its hinges. We called our insurance assessor. When he arrived, I explained to him that we had had work done on the door before, but that I suspected the problem was simply caused by wear and tear, and that the wood may have rotted due to the torrential rains we had.

"I'm sorry," the insurance guy said, "we don't pay for normal wear and tear. And, especially since you have had work done on the door previously, this door is your problem, not ours."

"So you only pay in case of accidents? Say I never looked after it, and just let it rot in peace, or if I got roaring drunk and fell against it, or if it broke clean off its hinges in the course of a violent domestic squabble, you would have paid for it then?"

"Yes," he said.

That truly flabbergasted me. My insurance company was actually asking me to become a careless homeowner, a drunkard and a wife-beater! Why would they expect that of me? Isn't that just wrong?

The final cherry on the koek was when I read in the papers about a theological student whose application to become a dominee was turned down by the Dutch Reformed Church. Not because she was a woman – fortunately, the Church had progressed beyond sexism. Neither because she was gay – in the year 2011, the Church had at last accepted the fact that God loved gays. Then why did they turn her down? Because she was honest enough to admit that she was sexually active. She was penalised because she had a steady girlfriend.

The mind boggles. Makes me wonder… why did they forget to explain the small print to her all those years ago, when she let them know about her sexual preference at the outset of her studies? They omitted the most crucial detail! When those dominee's told her, "It's okay to be a lesbian," but neglected to add "as long as you don't do lesbian things," they robbed her of her entire future! Now why in God's name would they mislead her like that? I'd think that, in this day and age, with people leaving the Church in droves, they'd do everything in their power to appoint people as dominee's!

All of these things make me wonder about the society we live in. And yes, maybe I agree with my hairdresser just a little bit. I will be thinking of Selebi when those cell doors slam shut behind that sorry old man.

Unless, of course, if he does the honourable thing, the sociably acceptable thing, the thing everybody expects him to do, and bribe some good doctor to lie about his health...

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