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DO YOU REALLY HAVE A CHOICE – PART III

It is generally taught that Adam and Eve were spiritually perfect immediately after their creation, seeing that it says, "And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good…" (Genesis. 1:31). Never mind the fact that even poisonous snakes were also "very good." Of course everything God made was "good."

It was, in fact, even "perfect"—perfect, that is, for the purpose for which it was created. But did our first parents have perfect and good spiritual character of heart when God completed them? Absolutely not! Far from it! They were as carnal-minded as any two people who have ever lived. I can almost see your shock. Hold on tight! The Scriptures show us that Eve committed every known category of sin there is, before she ever ate of the forbidden fruit.

This one should knock your socks off. It knocked mine off when I first discovered it. It is believed by most that the Ten Commandments, if followed by everyone, would eliminate all of the problems of the world. Did you know that it is possible to keep ALL of the Ten Commandments without having the spirit of God or without being spiritually converted? It is true.

Here are the commandments: You shall have none other gods before Me You shall not make you any graven image You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it Honor your father and your mother You shall not kill [murder] Neither shall you commit adultery Neither shall you steal Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor Neither shall you covet. Yes, even unaided by the Holy Spirit of God it is possible to keep these commandments of God.

And the proof of this is simple: The penalty for breaking any of these commandments was death, and yet, most in Israel were not stoned to death for breaking these commandments. All of these commandments are referred to as "carnal commandments" in the New Testament (Heb. 7:16).

They do not require a converted spiritual heart to keep and obey. There was ONE commandment, however, that was of a spiritual nature. It had to do with the desires and inclination of the heart. It was the 10th commandment: "Neither shall you desire [covet] your neighbor’s wife… house… field… manservant… maidservant… ox… ass… or anything that is your neighbor’s" (Deut. 5:7-21). However, was anyone ever stoned in ancient Israel for coveting anything that belonged to his neighbor? No. Never.

One could "covet" anything he wanted all day long, just so long as he didn’t break any of the other nine commandments! One could "covet" his neighbor’s wife, just as long as he didn’t commit adultery with her—for that he would be stoned to death. One could "covet" his neighbor’s ox, just so long as he didn’t steal it—for that he would be stoned to death.

Oh, "coveting" was a sin all right, but since it cannot be detected by man unless it eventuates into stealing or the like, no penalty was enforced on such. However, to Paul, it was this commandment that proved to him that his heart was not right with God even though he performed all the visible and outward duties of the law: "…for I had not known [Gk: ‘would not have known’] lust, except the law had said, "Thou shalt not covet" (Rom. 7:7). So lusting and coveting that which is not legal, is a sin, but it carried no penalty in Ancient Israel.

But before a man ever steals, or ever commits adultery with another man’s wife, he first covets, and that is a sin and the precursor to additional sins. But is it man's will that does the coveting? Can man's will, will NOT to covet? Is man's "will" the problem? No, no, it is NOT. Man’s mind is not the birthplace of sin. And certainly man’s will is not the originator of sin.

God did NOT say: "O that there were such a WILL in them…" (Deut. 5:29). If we will just believe, our Lord tells us plainly where sin originates: "And Jesus said, Are ye [all of you] also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever enters in at the mouth goes into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth FROM THE HEART; and they defile the man.

For out of THE HEART proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashed hands defiles not a man" (Matt. 15:16-20). Need I remind any that all of the above thoughts and deeds are sin? So, what, pray tell, does all this stuff have to do with Mother Eve’s sin in the garden? A lot—everything. The Apostle John classifies all sins into just three categories under one heading.

LOVE NOT THE WORLD—THREE CATEGORIES OF SIN "Love NOT the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father IS NOT IN HIM. For [for means ‘because’] ALL that is in the world, the lust of the FLESH, the lust of the EYES, and the pride of LIFE, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides for ever" (I John 2:15-17). Notice that "ALL that is in the world"—all the sins of the world, have their origin in one of these three categories of sin that proceeds "out of THE HEART." Not out of the "will" or out of the "mind," but "out of THE HEART."

The "will" and the "mind" are subject to the "heart," and not the other way around. The heart is not subject to the will, neither is the heart subject to the mind, but rather both of these are subject to the birthplace of all human functions—the HEART! Simply and unarguably, Jesus states as a fact, that all evil thoughts and sins proceed OUT OF THE HEART. Now, with all that said, let’s prove once and for all that Mother Eve and Adam were (1) NOT spiritually perfect in any way shape or form, BEFORE they actually ate of the forbidden fruit, and (2) neither did they sin and then partake of the forbidden fruit through the operation of something called "free will."

"And when the woman saw that the tree was GOOD FOR FOOD…" Gen. 3:6: "…lust of the FLESH…" (I John 2:15) and that it was PLEASANT TO THE EYES… Gen. 3:6: "…lust of the EYES…" (I John 2:15) and a tree to be DESIRED TO MAKE ONE WISE Gen. 3:6: "…the PRIDE OF LIFE" (I John 2;15) Eve committed EVERY CATEGORY OF SIN THERE IS IN THE WORLD, BEFORE she actually ate of the forbidden fruit. Hectic! All of Eve’s evil thoughts of pride, vanity, lust, greed, disobedience, and finally thievery proceeded NOT from Eve’s supposed "free will," but rather from out of her HEART. And the only reason these sins could come out of her heart is because THEY WERE ALREADY IN THERE FROM THE BEGINNING.

Before Eve actually ate of the forbidden fruit, she committed every category of sin in the world. And need I remind us that we were also, ALL IN ADAM, before he ate of the tree (I Corinthians 15:22). Will we deny our own eyes and the Scriptures we have just read? Let me interject a few thoughts here before we go on.

Science has never found an "effect" anywhere in the universe for which they believe there was not first a "cause." I mean, how could it be otherwise? What is there anywhere, that can happen, come into existence, display an effect, for which there was absolutely no cause? Why is it then that most of humanity believes that they can think thoughts that they themselves brought into existence WITHOUT ANY CAUSE? Why would anyone think such a thing?

Well, for one thing, they are not usually, consciously aware of the cause. Therefore, they deceive themselves into believing that their thoughts HAD NO CAUSE! But since when must the cause of an effect be visible or perceivable in order to be accepted? I can witness the tremendous effects and power of electricity, and yet I have never seen electricity. I see the effects and power of the wind, and yet I have never seen the wind. We can also see things and not feel them.

I can see the sky, but I can’t feel the sky. We can also hear sounds, but we can’t see sounds. The rays of the sun burn our skin, but we can’t see the actual rays that burn us. We can smell things that we cannot see, hear, or feel. We can’t see taste.

Then why should it seem strange to us that we can have thoughts without seeing, feeling, hearing, or smelling the CAUSE of those thoughts. It is amazing just how deceiving this doctrine of free will is when we consider that most scientists accept free will as a fact, yet they would never in a million years accept anything else in the universe as coming into existence without a cause!

Psychiatrists and psychologists look for every conceivable CAUSE of mental diseases, personality disorders, and a plethora of behavioral dysfunctions associated with the thinking of the mentally challenged.

Try to convince even one of them that these disorders have absolutely no cause whatsoever, and see how they will look at you with a cocked head. But then suggest to these same experts if indeed all of these malfunctioning thought patterns do have a cause, then, just maybe, all of our properly functioning and socially acceptable thoughts, also have causes. And they will once more look at you with a cocked head of incredulity! Does anyone see a contradiction in all this free will philosophy?

It has been wisely stated, that once a bell has been rung, it can never be un-rung. And this axiom is also true for our thoughts and everything else in the universe that was the effect of some cause. Once we are caused to have a particular thought, it is not even in the realm of possibility for that thought to never have occurred.

IT HAD TO OCCUR. Once anything causes something, the effect of that cause could never have been otherwise. The very fact that everything in the history of the universe and the history of the human race had a cause is proof positive that this same history could never have been different. Whatever has happened, HAD TO HAPPEN.

The CAUSES of all happenings made all of the effects come into existence. Nothing that has a cause can ever be stopped, for if the cause could be stopped, the effect would have never happened, and we would not have the existence of any such cause to even be talking about in the first place.

BUT ALL THINGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED, HAVE HAPPENED! This is not rocket science. No one can UN-RING a bell. But keep making choices.

After all, you have a free will? Or do you? Hmmm…

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Botswana to Become a Vaccinated Nation: Pandemic Anxiety Over?

30th March 2021

OSCAR MOTSUMI

This is a question that should seriously exercise the mind of every Botswana citizen and every science researcher, every health worker and every political leader political.

The Covid-19 currently defines our lives and poses a direct threat to every aspect and every part of national safety, security and general well-being. This disease has become a normative part of human life throughout the world.

The first part of the struggle against the murderous depredation of this disease was to protect personal life through restrictive health injunctions and protocols; the worst possibly being human isolation and masks that hid our sorrows and lamentations through thin veils. We suffered that humiliation with grace and I believe as a nation we did a great job.

Now the vaccines are here, ushering us into the second phase of this war against the plague; and we are asking ourselves, is this science-driven fight against Covid-19 spell the end of pandemic anxiety? Is the health nightmare coming to an end? What happy lives lie ahead? Is this the time for celebration or caution? As the Non State Actors, we have being struggling with these questions for months.

We have published our thoughts and feelings, and our research reviews and thorough reading of both the local and international impacts of this rampaging viral invasion in local newspapers and social media platforms.

More significantly, we have successfully organised workshops about the impact of the pandemic on society and the economy and the last workshop invited a panel of health experts, professionals, and public administers to advance this social dialogue as part of our commitment to the tripartite engagement we enjoy working with Government of Botswana, Civil Society and Development partners. These workshops are virtual and open to all Batswana, foreign diplomatic missions based in Gaborone, UN agencies located in Gaborone and international academic researchers and professional health experts and specialists.

The mark of Covid-19 on our nation is a painful one, a tragedy shared by the entire human race, but still a contextually painful experience. Our response is fraught with grave difficulties; limited resources, limited time, and the urgency to not only save lives but also avert economic ruin and a bleak future for all who survive. Several vaccines are already in the  market.

Parts of the world are already doing the best they can to trunk the pestilential march of this disease by rolling out mass-vaccinations campaigns that promise to evict this health menace and nightmare from their public lives. Botswana, like much of Africa, is still up in the disreputable, and, unenviable, preventative social melee of masked interactions, metered distances, contactless commerce.

We remain very much at the mercy of a marauding virus that daily runs amuck with earth shattering implications for the economy and human lives. And the battle against both infections and transmissions is proving to be difficult, in terms of finance, institutional capacities and resource mobilization. How are we prepared as government, and as citizens, to embrace the impending mass-vaccinations? What are the chances of us  succeeding at this last-ditch effort to defeat the virus? What are the most pressing obstacles?

Does the work of vaccines spell an end to the pandemic anxieties?

Our panellists addressed the current state of mass-vaccination preparedness at the Botswana national level. What resources are available? What are the financial, institutional and administrative operational challenges (costs and supply chains, delivery, distribution, administering the vaccine on time, surveillance and security of vaccines?) What is being done to overcome them, or what can be done to overcome them? What do public assessments of preparedness tell us at the local community levels? How strong is the political will and direction? How long can we expect the whole exercise to last? At what point should we start seeing tangible results of the mass-vaccination campaign?

They also addressed the challenges of the anticipated emerging Vaccinated Society. How to fight the myths of vaccines and the superstitions about histories of human immunizations? What exactly is being done to grow robust local confidence in the science of vaccinations and the vaccines themselves? More significantly, how to square these campaigns vis-vis personal rights, moral/religious obligations?

What messages are being sent out in these regards and how are Batswana responding? What about issues of justice and equality? Will we get the necessary vaccines to everyone who wants them? What is being done to ensure no deserving person is left behind?

They also addressed issues of health data. To accomplish this mass-vaccination campaign and do everything right we need accurate and complete data. Poor data already makes it very hard to just cope with the disease. What is being done to improve data for the mass-vaccination campaign? How is this data being collected, aggregated and prepared for real life situation/applications throughout Botswana in the coming campaign?

We know in America, for example, general reporting and treatment of health data at the beginning of vaccinations was so poor, so chaotic and so scattered mainstream newspapers like The Atlantic, Washington Post and the New York Times had to step in, working very closely with civil society organizations, to rescue the situation. What data-related issues are still problematic in Botswana?

To be specific, what kind of Covid-19 data is being taken now to ready the whole country for an effective and efficient mass-vaccination program?

Batswana must be made aware that the  end part of vaccination will just mark the beginning of a long journey to health recovery and national redemption; that in many ways Covid-19 vaccination is just another step toward the many efforts in abeyance to fight this health pandemic, the road ahead is still long and painful.

For this purpose, and to highlight the significance of this observation we tasked our panellists with  the arduous imperative of  analysing the impact of mass-vaccination on society and the economy alongside the pressing issues of post-Covid-19 national health surveillance and rehabilitation programs.

Research suggests the aftermath of Covid-19 vaccination is going to be just as difficult and uncertain world as the present reality in many ways, and that caution should prevail over celebration, at least for a long time. The disease itself is projected to linger around for some time after all these mass-vaccination campaigns unless an effort is made to vaccinate everyone to the last reported case, every nation succeeds beyond herd immunity, and cure is found for Covid-19 disease. Many people are going to continue in need of medications, psychological and psychiatric services and therapy.

Is Botswana ready for this long holdout? If not, what path should we take going into the future? The Second concern is , are we going to have a single, trusted national agency charged with the  mandate to set standards for our national health data system, now that we know how real bad pandemics can be, and the value of data in quickly responding to them and mitigating impact? Finally, what is being done to curate a short history of this pandemic? A national museum of health and medicine or a Public Health Institute  in Botswana is overdue.

If we are to create strong sets of data policies and data quality standards for fighting future health pandemics it is critical that they find ideological and moral foundations in the artistic imagery and photography of the present human experience…context is essential to fighting such diseases, and to be prepared we must learn from every tragic health incident.

Our panellists answered most of these questions with distinguished intellectual clarity. We wish Batswana to join us in our second Mass-vaccination workshop.

*Oscar Motsumi: Email:oscar.motsumi@gmail.com

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The women you see in the news matter. Here’s why

9th March 2021
Jane Godia

Jane Godia

Today is International Women’s Day – it’s a moment to think about how much better our news diet could be if inequities were eliminated. In 1995, when the curtains fell in one of the largest meetings that have ever brought women together to discuss women in development, it was noted that women and media remain key to development.

Twenty-six years later, the relevant “Article J” of the Beijing Platform for Action, remains unfulfilled. Its two strategic objectives with regard to Women and Media have not been met. They are
Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication

Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.

Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, it’s an indictment on both media owners and civil society that women remain on the periphery of news-making. They cannot claim equal space in either the structures of newsrooms or in the content produced, be that as sources of news or as the subjects of reports. Indeed, the latest figures from WAN-IFRA’s Women in News Programme show just one in five voices in news belong to women*, be they as sources, as the author or as the main character of the news report.

Some progress was evident several years back, with stand-out women being named as chief executive officers, editors in chief, managing editors and executive editors. But these gains appear short lived in most media organisations. Excitement has turned to frustration as one-step forward has been replaced with three steps backwards. In Africa, the problem is acute. The decision-making tables of media organisations remain deprived of women and where there are women, they are surrounded by men.

Few women have followed in the footsteps of Esther Kamweru, the first woman managing editor in Kenya, and indeed sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s standout women editors include Pamela Makotsi-Sittoni (Nation Media Group, Kenya), Barbara Kaija (New Vision, Uganda), Mary Mbewe (Daily Nation, Zambia), Margaret Vuchiri (The Monitor, Uganda), Joyce Shebe (Clouds, Tanzania), Tryphinah Dongwana (Weekend Post, Botswana), Joyce Mhaville (Independent Television -ITV, Tanzania) and Tuma Abdallah (Standard Newspapers,Tanzania). But they remain an exception.

The lack of balance between women and men at the table of decision making has a rollback effect on the content that is produced. A table dominated by men typically makes decisions that benefit men.

So today, International Women’s Day is a grim reminder that things are not rosy in the news business. Achieving gender balance in news and in the structure of media organisations remains a challenge. Unmet, it sees more than half of the population in our countries suffer the consequences of bias, discrimination and sexism.

The business of ignoring the other half of the population can no longer be treated as normal. It’s time that media leaders grasp the challenge, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it also makes a whole lot of business sense: start covering women, give them space and a voice in news-making and propel them to all levels of decision making within your organisation.

We can no longer afford to imagine that it’s only men who make and sell the news and bring in the shillings to fund the media business. Women too are worthy newsmakers. In all of our societies, there are women holding decision making positions and who are now experts in once male-only domains such as engineers, doctors, scientists and researchers.

They can be deliberately picked out to share their perspectives and expertise and bring balance to the profile of experts quoted on our news pages. Media is the prism through which society sees itself and women are an untapped audience. So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us embrace diversity, which yields better news content and business products, and in so doing eliminate sexism. We know that actions and attitudes that discriminate against people based on their gender is bad for business.

As media, the challenge is ours. We need to consciously embrace and reach the commitments made 26 years ago when the Beijing Platform for Action was signed globally. As the news consuming public, you have a role to play too. Hold your news organization to account and make sure they deliver balanced news that reflects the voices of all of society.

Jane Godia is a gender development and media expert who serves as the Africa Director of Women in News programme.  
WOMEN IN NEWS is WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org

Jane Godia, Director, Africa, Women in News

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Why is the media so afraid to talk about sexual harassment?

9th March 2021

MELANIE WALKER

The eve of International Women’s Day presents an opportunity for us to think about gender equality and the long and often frustrating march toward societies that are truly equal.

As media, we are uniquely placed to drive forward this reflection and discussion. But while focusing on the challenges of gender in society, we owe it to our staff and the communities we serve to also take a hard look at the obstacles within our own organisations.

I’m talking specifically about the scourge of sexual harassment. It’s likely to have happened in your newsroom. It has likely happened to a member of your team. It happens to all genders but is disproportionately directed at women. It happens in every industry, regardless of country, culture or context. This is because sexual harassment is driven by power, not sex. Wherever you have imbalances in power, you have individuals who are at risk of sexual harassment, and those who abuse this power.

I’ve been sexually harassed. The many journalists and editors, friends and family members who I have spoken to over the years on this subject have also been harassed. Yet it is still hard for leaders to recognize that this could be happening within their newsrooms and boardrooms. Why does it continue to be such a taboo?

Counting the cost of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is, simply put, bad for business. It can harm your corporate reputation. It is a drain on the productivity of staff and managers. Maintaining and building trust in your brand is an absolute imperative for media organisations globally. If and when a case gets out of control or is badly handled – this can directly impact your bottom line.

It is for this reason that WAN-IFRA Women in News has put eliminating sexual harassment as a top priority in our work around gender equality in the media sector. This might seem at odds with the current climate where social interactions are fewer and remote work scenarios are in place in many newsrooms and businesses. But one only needs to tune into the news to know that the abuse of power, manifested as verbal, physical or online harassment, is alive and well.

Preliminary results from an ongoing Women in News research study into the issue of sexual harassment polling hundreds of journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia indicate that more than 1 in 3 women media professionals have been physically harassed, and just under 50% have been verbally harassed. Just over 15% of men in African newsrooms reported being physically harassed, and slightly less than 1 in 4 reports being verbally harassed. The numbers for male media professionals in Southeast Asia are slightly higher than a quarter on both forms of harassment.

The first step in confronting sexual harassment is to talk about it. We need to strip away the stigma and discomfort around having open conversations about what sexual harassment is and isn’t. Media managers, it is entirely in your power to create dynamics in your own teams that are free from sexual harassment.

Publishers and CEOs, you set the organisational culture in your media company.

By being vocal in recognising that it happens everywhere, and communicating to your employees that you will not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind, you send a powerful message to your teams, and publicly. With these actions, you will help us overcome the legacy of silence around this topic, and in doing so take an important first step to create media environments that truly embrace equality.

Melanie Walker is Executive Director of Media Development of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She is a creator of Women in News, WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org

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