What determines who is great?
Just recently the South African Broadcating Corporation's channel 3 (SABC3) started showing a list of men and women that South Africans voted for as their 100 greatest South Africans. While I was perusing this list, I was wondering what the South Africans who voted were thinking (or perhaps drinking) when they voted for some of these people.
The list of SA's 100 greatest, reads like a very badly written Tom Clancy novel where the plot is non-existent and the characters are hardly inspiring. That the 100 greatest list is made up of sportsmen and women, convicted criminals, murderers and people who stand for the legal murder of babies is not all that surprising! This, chosen by a nation of people whom have become totally devoid of any morality. This list of SA's 100 greatest can be viewed at SABC3's website http://greatsouthafricans.sabc3.co.za/home.asp?pid=362. The people who voted obviously had no clue that they were voting for the greatest and not the most popular people of South Africa. Many of those voted for, did absolutely nothing themselves and certainly do not deserve to be on the list. Certainly not a list of SA's 100 greatest...
What, for instance, did the infamous Mrs Ples (who turns out to be Mr Ples) do to deserve to be on this list? For those who do not know, 'scientists' claim that (s)he is 2 to 2.5 million years old. How could we ever know if (s)he did or did not do anything to deserve greatness? How could Hector Peterson be voted onto this list of SAs 100 greatest? What did he do to deserve to be on this list? Sure, he was shot to death by policemen in the 1976 riots here in South Africa. But, what did he do? If he can be on this list, then so should the 360,000 babies be who have been mercilessly murdered 'legally' through the act of abortion here in SA.
It sometimes becomes necessary for us to think with our heads and not with our emotions. Many of those who have made it to the top 100 list certainly cannot be reckoned as great. They were voted onto the list as great, through emotion and not proper thinking. That is why this list is purely a vote for the most popular and not for the greatest.
What makes a person great? I am sure that there are many who will come up with a variety of answers to that question! Many on this list had a lot to do with the breakdown of apartheid in SA. Yet, on the other hand they did kill and blow up many innocent people in the process. Of course, many of those who were instrumental in enforcing apartheid in SA also made it to the list: H.F. Verwoerd, D.F. Malan, P.W. Botha, J.B.M. Hertzog. What made these men great? That they successfully oppressed millions of non-white South Africans for over 40 years? If that makes one great then Hitler must be absolutely phenomenal? We all know that is plainly ridiculous. Simply because someone is involved in a struggle for freedom or oppression does not make one great! The fact is that oppression leads to more oppression. If we look at the history of mankind, we will find that almost all those who have been oppressed and later won their freedom eventually became the oppressors. We find this with Israel. They were oppressed for most of their existence. Today they are the oppressors of the Palestinian people. The same goes for those who felt that they were oppressed under the rule of the Tzars of Russia. They eventually became the most oppressive force on this planet in the form of Communism! The Afrikaners were oppressed by the British. This led to the Afrikaners becoming the oppressors of non-whites after their emancipation from British rule. Now that the black man has freedom and rule in South Africa, they are starting to oppress white men especially through so-called affirmative action laws. Simply a smokescreen for more apartheid and oppression. Black people in Africa have been oppressed by the whites for so many years. All we now see in Africa is one black tribe trying to rule over another. Oppression leads to more oppression!
So, how will we define greatness? Is it tied up with something someone did? To whom and how many? How can this thing be quantified? Should it be quantified,; or should it rather be based on quality?
Sure, we must look at what a person accomplished in his life, but we must also look at who that person is! I do not mean that we must find out the person's name and information about him, but rather we must look at the person's character, the attributes of his personality. We also need to look at his worldview. Doing good things in themselves may mean nothing if those good things are merely a means to an end! This is where a person's character and worldview comes in. Is such a person even handed? Does he make sure that he can do good to all that he comes in contact with? Or, is he partial to a certain group of people?
Let's look at Nelson Mandela. Madiba is revered by people across the world. He is hailed as the messiah of the black people who struggled for their freedom. He certainly has done a lot of things for South Africa and indeed for many other peoples too. He established the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund that helps with poor and orphaned children. He helped establish some kind of peace in this country. Surely, at his command the black populace could have stood up and taken South Africa by force, but he chose to do it the 'democratic' way through an election. Surely, this makes for a great man! However, it was while he was at the helm of this nation that pornography was legalized. It was under his presidency that abortion was also legalized. In the first 6 years since it became legal, 360,000 babies have been murdered by sanction of the 'law.' Thousands of violent criminals have been released under his command, because it was his birthday, some of whom committed violent crimes within days of release. It was under his rule that murders rose from somewhere in the 7000s per year to over 20,000 per year with a high of 25,000 per year around 1996. Does this, now, look like greatness? You will have to decide!
To me, the great ones are those who day after day work hard for their money just to return home to ensure that their children are well fed, safe, educated and love God. Those that are concerned of their children's eternal future are the great ones. We will all die one day, but what then? Those that are great are those that do good things for their fellow man and do not expect anything in return for those good deeds.
There are many others whom we should acknowledge as great; yet, perhaps when we meet them face to face we may realize that they are not that great. I think that we too many times look for greatness in others when we should be out there doing great things for others.
How will we become great? This can only happen when we take up the challenge by Jesus Christ: "Love your neighbour as yourself!" However, His greatest challenge for us is: "Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength." With this comes greatness!