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Personal Devil’s Advocate

truth

A good writer of history is a guy who is suspicious. ~ Jim Bishop

The slap of a friend can be trusted to help you, but the kisses of an enemy are nothing but lies. – Proverbs 27: 6

I’ve got a  friend who in many respects is a complete opposite of me. He takes pleasure from calling himself my nemesis (somehow that makes him feel good??), he’s not religious, is culturally and physically different, has an attitude to life that is way too serious, has no identifiable hobbies – other than time in the gym. He doesn’t take holidays or relax, hates Tv, hates travelling, doesn’t drink alcohol, hates the sun,  in fact this guy is different from me in almost every imaginable way, other than the fact that I listen to a small selection of the same type of music he listens to, and that we view technology through similar lenses.

He’s much older than I am, almost twice as old, caucasian, and became an acquaintance a few years ago when fate caused our paths to cross. Long story cut short, we are now friends, which to an extent also means he does some  things I find somewhat annoying. Things that drive me nuts. Conversely, it appears my habits at times also get the better of him, and after heated fits of rage, and much shouting and swearing, everyone eventually calms down. Sometimes the results to these rage bouts include periods where he will not even answer my phone (or me his), and can last for up to weeks. But most times, I have a sense that he means well, even if at times it appears selfishly so. My ex girlfriend once said ‘if he were a woman, there would be an affair to worry about’ . That’s how close we have become.

I’m giving this example because he speaks his mind, and is not influenced by historical biases or myths. He is not given to lies or hypocrisy, and his input into my life has taught me a number of very important lessons.

A typical conversation with him either involves his antagonizing me or his poking holes in my thinking. As troublesome as it can sometimes be, a perpetual devil’s advocate can find many faults, most times way before they occur, saving one unnecessary mistakes. Indeed wisdom can come from the most unexpected of places.

He likes to bash at my faith (which is fine – some people can’t be kind to things they don’t understand). If not then he’s ever attempting to ‘educate’ me in one thing or another, which I know sounds paternalistic and condescending, and I can imagine could be offensive (or annoying) to others, but I often patiently play along.

Of everything he has said, he has repeatedly informed me that certain people in Britain are horrible;  the heists crafted in the name of tax planning –  behaviour which he says depresses him because he sees the bigger picture and how it worsens Britain’s economic situation in the long run. Yet he’ll often remind me – when I criticise public policy – that Britain has done more to help the world than to destroy the world. So he is patriotic. But he is convinced that at the end of it all, there will be no winners as people will destroy the world anyway, so our efforts at conservation and restraint although noble, are futile?? Which is an incredible thing to say, for someone who get’s extremely annoyed when he sees people litter…

oldman-wisdom

Among the crazy and incredible things he has said in the past are a few which stand out quite remarkably:

(1) ‘Most people are two-faced, and don’t trust what some people say because often they are saying it to influence you, to the benefit of them alone.’ What I think he means is there are too many oafs in Britain, so beware…

(2)  He says that his opinions are driven not by anything he wants from me or my family, but because he knows that nobody else  will give me the whole truth. I think what he means is that he thinks that no other white person I know will tell me what he tells me?? But obviously just because one white person speaks one way, doesn’t mean what he says is true. Although, it’s probably true that there are people who think in the ways he describes.

(3) He says the major ‘cultural differences’ between white and non-white people boils down to one group which  is bent, whether legally or illegally, to keep all other groups ‘subjugated’, and the other group which inherently and historically come from cultures that are more caring of their friends and accepting of their neighbours. Apparently, that is why you hear about all the immigration noises. He says its down to greed, jealousies, selfishness, and power, because when 5 to 6 million British people are in other countries, its ingenious to be complaining about immigration because what about if every country in quid pro quo manner decided that the British citizens in their countries must be expelled or  thrown out?. This friend says a worrying number of British people  are only happy to have its citizens live in other countries, and benefit from it, but not other country’s citizens living in Britain, which he says is as ‘selfish and predatory as it gets, and the definition of hypocrisy‘. He says I should leave Britain because of this fact alone, because as long as I live here, ‘the hostilities‘ will continue in one form or another, mostly covert. What he probably means is that there are some politicians given to popular sentiment and whose actions and populist policies have divided communities in introducing hate for the foreigner. He probably has a bit of truth in this?? But to generalise that all white people are hostile to foreigners is a bit unfair. Or maybe he is saying it because, like he says, some British people don’t want foreigners in  their country, so maybe he’s one of these kind of people??

(4) In addition, he correctly says that too many people in Britain are only interested in your money. It depresses him, the whole ‘money obsession’ and he has to take antidepressants for that. He says if he becomes rich, one of the first things he will do is build a homeless shelter, because those people have been are neglected. He has been homeless before, so he knows what that world looks like. I have written briefly about this money thing before on this blog, here, after a chance encounter with one Ghanaian.Its the same thing which Jagadish Chandra Bose meant when he wrote:

” This multi-millionaire has come to me like a beggar for making some more profits. Friend, you would have seen the greed and hankering after money in this country, – money, money – what a terrible all pervasive greed ! If I once get sucked into this terrible trap, there wont’ be any escape ! See, the research that I have been dedicated to doing, is above commercial profits. I am getting older – I am not getting enough time to do what I had set out to do — I refused him”

(5) My friend also hurts from the fact that the standard of education for young people in primary and secondary schools is lagging behind other less developed countries. He seems to think the teaching system is too soft, and young people are not being equipped with knowledge and skills, instead they are taught to pass exams, so they leave school ill prepared for higher education, or even for vocations, and after university, they don’t have many transferable skills, which puts off employers as employers have to spend too much time and resources in ‘plugging the holes

(6) He hates the waste, ‘spending competition’ that’s the words he uses. Apparently, a thrifty, recycling approach would do, and save western economies huge amounts of resources, from food to money. Similarly, he thinks Britain should grow more of its own food, in local urban farms  and local greenhouses and not ‘import things as far as from Argentina‘. Again, I agree with this to a large extent.

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(7) He says if it wasn’t for his children and wife, he would leave the UK, go and live in a monastery among monks somewhere far because ‘the bullshit being peddled about is paralyzing‘ . He doesn’t watch British news as he says ‘it’s severely biased, it’s not even funny and even a blind person who can’t see will tell you that’ . I agree that families can make it difficult for one to determine their own life, but a monastery is probably too radical an approach.  But his language  in re blind people is clearly inappropriate.

(8) He thinks robots will take over the world, controlled by their masters – ‘the super rich‘. It sounds like an orweilian plot from a movie, but you can never know what the future will look like. On this point, I have some reason to agree with him. I too believe that machines will undertake more and more of the tasks human have done, or historically used to do. But to what extent will this happen?? And how safe in the long run will it be is yet to be seen.

(9) Finally, he says the world economy has been ‘swallowed by masters of deceit‘. That if you follow the chain of debt, you’ll soon get to the ‘mega banks’ who control events, create wars, and make trillions out of all the chaos they create, behind aliases, oil companies and other ‘pawns’. ‘To these people it’s not about money any longer’ he says ‘It’s about power, they don’t care whether you or me dies, they don’t even care whether the US president lives or dies, all they care about is the sustenance of this deceptive machinery that keeps them in control. They have enough money they don’t need any more, so it’s not about profit anymore, but control.’

As much as I hate to admit it, I like this guy, because in my view he’s real and honest, and doesn’t care whether what he says upsets me or not. And since I always do my own independent research before agreeing with any opinion, a lot of his views have a credible basis. There are hints of truth in some of these things, at least that’s what my research shows, although quite where fact becomes conspiracy theory is debatable.

In the past, this man has come to my rescue in many instances, when some Malawians have ‘shied away’ from helping me…and there are too many examples to list here. Whether he does so selfishly knowing that I will return the favour, I do not know. What I do know is there exists an interdependence between us. He has accepted me and my family and never judged me (at least I don’t feel judged). I have accepted him and his family and don’t judge him – even though sometimes I question his mannerisms. He does things for me and my family, I do things for him and his family. I try to understand his world, his friends, his way of life, and it seems he also tries to understand my world. He says he knows that what I do for him, nobody else can do for him. What he must mean is that nobody can do for him at that cost, so again, questions of motive behind his assistance could arise?? But since he does things for me aswell, without pay, I doubt that’s of much relevance.

And considering everything he has said in the past, maybe it’s not too bad an idea to have a pessimist who plays the devil’s advocate card time and again over you; someone who tries to show you (or pretends to show you) what the dark side of the world really looks like (assuming they quote facts). I believe that we live in a world where duplicity is more common than before and since not all people one meets are genuine (or what they claim to be) , maybe one needs a dose of error check about always.

Especially if one is a migrant living in a foreign country. A country where popular sentiment against foreigners is often negative (which is probably everywhere in the western world), and at times hostile. In which case, maybe you should get yourself a personal devil’s advocate, who says it as it is, unsanitized, and will put things into perspective – whether it hurts you or not.

Isn’t it better to have that from a ‘friend’ than be surrounded only by dreamy optimists who half the time choose to ignore the reality, and speak only what is sweet to the ear?

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