Photograph: Fayaz Aziz/Reuters

Living consciously is difficult and requires that we invest time and energy in the practice, and maintenance, of a clear mind.
Because awareness is costly, we all to easily lapse into unconsciousness.

During the years of struggle against Apartheid one of the biggest challenges was to get our most oppressed citizens to believe that they actually were oppressed.
One constantly heard the protest from poor people of colour that the White Nationalist government was good, and looking after them, better than they could do so themselves.
Conscientization, was an important step in energising the majority of South Africans to say No to Apartheid.

The sudden resurgence of Taliban dominance in Afghanistan in recent weeks has shocked us all. How could this movement with its dreadful history of human-rights abuses, particularly against women, have surged into the power-void created by the withdrawal of American troops?
I don’t pretend to know the whole dynamic of this complicated region of the world, and I distrust anyone who claims to. Single-factor explanations are at best simplistic and at worst just arrogant.

I do wonder however, if part of the problem is that we in the West, while correctly addressing the suffering of the poor and vulnerable, don’t fall into the trap of assuming that our values and lifestyle are the generic panacea for all human ills?

Afghanistan’s flip suggests that at least some part of the population agrees with the Taliban, or is the memory of the Red Toyota bakkies and the public beatings so strong that like a battered woman in an abusive marriage, Afghanis are acquiescing to power simply because to oppose it would bring more abuse and suffering? I don’t know.

Could it even be possible that not everyone on the planet wants to live in a free-market democracy where gender equality, human and gay rights are the norm?
Listening last week, to some Americans interviewed at a Trump rally inside the US, it seems that even in the land of the brave and the free, libertarian values are not embraced by everyone. One person actually warned the Biden administration that as quickly as the Taliban resurged in Afghanistan, so the American Right could overthrow the US Government!

Conscious living, understanding more than one’s own point of view, embracing and championing those not of your “in group” or echo chamber; are all challenges demanding careful thought and skilful action.
Rational and free thinking is exhausting.
Perhaps, more demanding than our overworked, locked down, narcissistic self-interest can afford?

Why not give in to fundamentalism and let others tell us what to think and how to live?
Do we, like the numbed and exhausted Afhanis, allow the anti-intellectual “Talibans” in our own church communities, clubs and social media platforms to overrun our free thinking and return us to the oppression of that unquestioning hive-mind where free thought and free speech are treated with the same hostility as an educated, young, Afghani woman?

The future of civilization hangs by the slender thread of those willing to keep thinking even when their brains hurt!