Friday, February 22, 2008


Well, a proposal has been placed before the floor of parliament to disband the Scorpions (similar to FBI). They are a strange group because though they are not allowed to gather intelligence. That brings up your next interesting question: how can you carry out investigative duties without gathering intelligence? Good question. Mbeki avoided all talk of the Scorpions in his State of the Nation address (started with Madiba), but people are bringing up the things he didn’t address.

Mbeki’s stance is that with all our problems (HIV/AIDS, all crime, power, etc.), we are not to change directions. We have always been on the right course and we should “stay the course.” The challenge is in the implementation of our directed plan, not in the plan itself. Others disagree and want government officials to pay or “experience” responsibility for power failures or for the crime which should be lower than it is now. Others want the Scorpions disbanded as they don’t work in their current state.

One member of parliament is trying to instate a school oath. Kids have weighed in on it, but in the overall scheme of things, it’s not the most pressing thing facing the country. It is interesting though because it reminds me that Texas instituted a Texas pledge some years ago (maybe 2003). And so I was in the university when it was instated, and I never had to say it. But it brings up an interesting observation. What is discussed on the state level in the states is discussed at the “federal” level in other countries. In fact, I was at a talk recently in which a presenter used the words state and an American interpreted that to mean an organization like Nevada or New Hampshire. I thought it meant country because I’m more oriented to understanding that meaning.

So it just reminds me how the definition of state is not really taught well or reinforced in schools. A state in its original meaning is actually a country (I’ve said this before, so bear with me). The US rightly appropriated the word in order to say that we are 50 united countries in one federation. But this concept (that we are 50 countries together) is not hammered home in schools. So we lose this meaning and the power of the statement this makes. This message is not lost on other countries. They understand that in the US very little (historically) was left to the federal government and each state makes up SO MUCH of its own rules (like a country). And so you have myths that abound over here. A South African once told me he thinks its weird how you can commit a crime in California, but then if you escape to Oregon, the police can’t get you. Of course there are problems with his understanding (actually depends on type/nature of transgression), but you can see his perspective on the US. Many people have told me how people in Washington D.C. are not allowed to vote. Though it’s true of Puerto Rico, this also isn’t true.

It is an amazing thought—50 states (seminal meaning, denotative) combined to work as one with inter-autonomy. Interesting. It’s not really like there anywhere else. Some come close, yes. And some even use the word “state” for their province or territory.

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