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Two apparently disconnected major news stories broke last Thursday.  In Johannesburg Gauteng Premier David Makhura released the E-toll Advisory Panel report, and in Hollywood the annual Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the nominees for the 2015 Oscar awards.  Look closely at the content of each story and an exquisite synchronicity emerges.  In the “Best Picture” category the Academy named Selma - a film that tells a true story about civil courage and civil disobedience in the face of State injustice.    In the E-toll Report the panel said there was “no justification” for civil disobedience by boycotting e-tolls and that to continue doing so “sets unsustainable precedents and threatens democracy and social cohesion.”

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Why should anyone weep over the death of a woman one has never actually met in person, has only known via written communications and with whom one has only corresponded for a brief five-month period?

Because she was more compassionately Christlike than many Christians (despite having given up faith in organised religion) and because her way of dealing with online serial violators of human rights was much sharper and much more effective than anything the Human Rights Commission could ever do. She helped many within the heady-hearty, arty-farty virtual-reality space of the Daily Maverick commentariat to confront reality. And she helped me sharpen my pen and find its target without having to commit suicide or cause collateral damage.

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As tributes to Dr Ian Player pour in from across the planet, his legacy will prevail to the extent that those who follow him also simultaneously undertake a journey inward and a journey outward. Inward to contemplate the gift of life within, and outward in actions to change social, political, economic and religious systems that are life-destroying.

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The tragic accidental death of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes from a fast short ball which struck him on the neck has been lamented around the world.  Such incidents are so rare as to be considered freakish.  Yet a similar incident occurred in South Africa in 1901 when a 38-year-old attorney Edward Jones, batting for Kokstad Cricket Club was struck by on the chest by a fast ball.  His funeral “was the largest seen in Kokstad”, with both black and white mourners in their thousands gathering to weep at the untimely death of a remarkable young man.

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About John GI Clarke

John Clarke hopes to write the wrongs of the world, informed by his experience as a social worker and theologian, to actualise fundamental human rights and satisfy fundamental human needs.  He has lived in the urbanised concentration of Johannesburg, but has worked mainly in the rural reaches of the Wild Coast for the past decade.  From having paid a fortune in toll fees he believes he has earned the right to be critical of Sanral and other extractive institutions, and has not held back while supporting Sustaining the Wild Coast (www.swc.org.za), the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (www.safcei.org.za) and the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (www.outa.co.za), in various ways.

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