Monday, January 5, 2009

[OT] Helen Suzman (1917-2009)

The times has a moving picture of Helen Suzman being laid to rest in the typical Jewish way, in a plain, ugly, boxy coffin. Everyone is equal in death - it is how we live our lives that defines us. And Ms Suzman certainly lived hers as a shining light to all.

I would say "Rest In Peace" but something tells me that Helen Suzman would not find that very easy. The Jewish nation in South Africa have always had an uneasy relationship with the Government, cordial but uneasy. The Nationalist Apartheid government tolerated Jews as they were "Whites" and were afforded the benefits that Whites were given. Most Jews were appalled at the treatment of Blacks and other race groups under apartheid but were too afraid to rock the boat.

Not so Ms Suzman. She will always be remembered as someone who spoke up.

More than that - she was never a loose cannon - she knew she was right and she had an amazing way of upsetting anyone who was doing wrong but in such a way that she gained their respect.

I have a lot of respect for the likes of Nelson Mandela and the other great leaders of the anti-apartheid revolution. But I have more respect for those that had not much to gain and lots to lose by their support. The ones who just saw what was good and what was not and decided to do something about it. It brings to mind the Edmund Burke quote about evil triumphing because of good men doing nothing. We are lucky in this world to have people such as Helen Suzman who see the evil around them and do something. Well, the world has lost one of those people, hopefully there will be others to take her place.

Finally, two quotes -

"I stand for simple justice, equal opportunity and human rights. The indispensable elements in a democratic society - and well worth fighting for." [Helen Suzman]

"...I don't pull my punches"
[Helen Suzman]

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