RAISE people from the dead, preach fairness and compassion, defend a prostitute and try to bring the Kingdom of God within everyone's grasp, and you get crucified for your troubles. Fight for Scottish independence, and get betrayed, then hanged, drawn and quartered.
Try to end corruption and crime, to give Romanians freedom and scare the Turks into leaving your land alone, and get ripped to pieces by four camels after crooked nobles turn on you.
Tell the world the sun is just a star and there are many others like it, and they roast you for real, not like was done to Steve Hofmeyr.
Say you have a dream and somebody bumps you off with a sniper rifle. Say all you need is love and get shot in the guts.
Croak Awlethu' mshini wam and become president. Encourage racial discord, label whites as colonialists and capitalists and you not only get published, you're a fashionable intellectual fighting the new "struggle".
By the way, the German word for it is kampf – guess who used it as part of a book title and what it makes you in my eyes? But Heaven forbid you see government's efforts at reconciliation only reach as far as heckling Helen Zille and Patricia de Lille at a Freedom Day rally, then decide to encourage a dispirited and more-than-ever polarised society to come together around a braai, and you get accused of bringing this country down to the lowest common denominator and making a mockery of South Africa's heritage.
Are you kidding me? In a society fractured along racial, political, financial and ethnic lines, a member of the demographic group many love to hate (white, male, 30s) tried to bring everybody together around a fire for some meat, dop and conversation.
He might score out of it financially, but given the increasingly divisive policies of our government, I'd say at least he's given us a chance to find some common ground – how's this a bad thing? No, it's not intellectual or filled with panoramic scenes of five million whites self-flagellating in public while chanting "Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa", but if there's a tiny hope it may work, why not try?
While we're at it, tell our guests the stories of our particular cultural heritage and listen to theirs? Isn't that what social discourse is about, or would you prefer the Spartan tradition of krypteia with 21st century weapons?
Don't know about you, but booze and a fire sound a lot better – and I thank Jan Scannell.
M Negres, Port Elizabeth