My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
On Tuesday Dr Allan Boesak gave a rousing speech at the rally that concluded the COPE congress. Boesak, who was one of the founders of the United Democratic Front and was later convicted and sent to jail for mismanaging donor funds, was pardoned by the President a few years ago.
If I was a COPE leader I would have felt uncomfortable to give Boesak such a prominent spot at the rally. What does this say about the new party’s commitment to honest and corrupt-free governance? There might be those who argue that Boesak had served his time in jail and that because he was pardoned by the President, we should not hold it against him.
I am torn on this question. If Dr Boesak had applied for the job and if he had shown that he had turned over a new leave, I might have given him a second chance and might have employed him. But should politicians not be held to a slightly higher standard?
The mayor of Washington DC was re-elected a mayor after erving a prion entence for possion and ue of crack cocaine and at the time the chattering classes in the USA were up in arms that the voters could have re-elected this man of dubious moral probity. I was less upset about his comeback as the use of drugs is a “victimless” crime and does not involve stealing money from the poor.
Boesak on the other hand ued funds earmarked for community development projects and in a awy took the food out of the mouths of the hungry. He has also never shown any remorse for what he has done.
It just goes to show, when it comes to politics, public morality in South Africa is rather of a dismal standard.
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