Monday, December 3, 2012

Albie Sachs

Friday evening, I was very privileged to attend a lecture from Justice Albie Sachs.  Justice Sachs has been a human rights activist for all his life.  Growing up in South Africa, he faced regular threat from the apartheid government.  He was a refugee in the United Kingdom and elsewhere multiple times.  I really encourage you to read some more notes on him from the link above (good old Wikipedia) - he truly is fascinating!  In addition to racial justice activism, he authored South Africa's Constitutional Court decision to legalize gay marriage.
Justice Sachs was giving a lecture on behalf of CARA, the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics.  He discussed the importance of welcoming refugees, focusing on refugees' skills and talents to include them in society, etc.  I really appreciated his honesty, in admitting that his gratitude for the UK on taking him in while he was on the run was tempered by a good deal of anger at the UK for its colonial history and enduring racism.  Great quotations and themes from the night include "humanizing dialogue," "there's something subordinating about gratitude" - affection is better, "nobody's anointed by history to be good," how the sharing of ideas and academic movement is "internationalism at its highest," and, my personal favourite: "the good doesn't wipe out the bad, but the bad doesn't destroy the good."
I am now the happy and proud owner of a signed copy of "The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law."

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