Where are you going?

The biblical epic Quo Vadis is set in ancient Rome from AD 64–68, the period during which the corrupt and destructive Emperor Nero ascends to power and eventually threatens to destroy Rome’s previous peaceful order.

The main subject of the movie is the conflict between Christianity, the corruption of the Roman Empire and the persecution of Christians by Nero. It tells the story of a Christian woman who falls in love with an agnostic Roman soldier during a time when Nero plans to wipe out Christianity completely and rebuild Rome after burning it to the ground. When Nero’s atrocities become increasingly more outrageous and his acts more insane, he burns Rome and blames the Christians for the destruction of the city.

In the movie, as in all love stories of the time, the lovers escape and the Roman soldier discovers a faith he didn’t have before.

I remember that I was nine or ten years old when my mother let me tag along to see this movie – apparently there were no age restrictions in the early sixties – and how scared I was by the violence. I kept my eyes closed and my head buried in her lap, especially during the scenes in which Rome was set alight and the Christians were tied to stakes in the arena.

Today I’m still scared of violence, of powerful authorities with twisted moralities who try to shift the blame for their incompetence and their outrageous acts to people who cannot defend themselves.

It is almost time for our country to celebrate Freedom Day (27 April), and I remember how full of hope we were on that day in 1994 when we were finally able to break with the atrocities and the not-so-peaceful order of the past. Or so we thought. I am not always sure that I still have faith in the future for a better South Africa.  The question is now: quo tendimus: where are we going?

The lyrics of the song “Paradise Road”, written by Patric van Blerk and Fransua Roos was recorded for the first time (as far as I know) in 1980, reflects the feeling of hope we had then that “there are better days before us”.

Come with me down paradise road
This way please, I’ll carry your load
This you must believe.
Come with me down paradise skies
Look outside and open your eyes

You must believe.
There are better days before us
And a burning bridge behind us, fire smokin’, the sky is blazing,
The women waiting weeping
And a young man nearly beaten all for love.
Paradise is almost closin’ down.

Ek het nie gewoonlik baie geduld met politieke praatjies nie en ek keur nie veroordeling van enige ras, kultuur of politieke party goed nie. Diegene wat my ken sal weet dat ek my nie bearbei vir partypolitiek of ‘n spesifieke politieke oortuiging nie.

Ek is nie geïnteresseerd in kleur, ras, kultuur en godsdienstige verskille of oortuigings nie. Vir my gaan dit suiwer daarom om in vrede met my medemens saam te leef en om ‘n beter toekoms te bou vir almal van ons. Ek wil graag die geloof behou dat dit wel nog moontlik is.

Translation of the above:

I do not usually have much patience with political talk and I do not approve of condemnation of any race, culture or political party. Those who know me will also know that I am not lobbying for party politics or a particular political belief.

I’m not interested in color, racial, cultural and religious differences or beliefs. I am only interested in living in peace with my fellow man and to build a better future for all of us. I want to keep the faith that it is still possible.

Having said that: ek is jammer, maar enige skerp politieke kommentaar op hierdie blogpost sal summier verwyder word; I am sorry but derogatory political comments on this blog post will be summarily deleted.