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How are we committed to each other?

Published on: 9 January 2024

Written by prof. Danie Goosen, executive head: Academic at Akademia

This year Akademia focusses on commitment as a theme. The institution is committed to the community, and it is a commitment that is characterised by friendship and justice, in the context of each individual that comes into his or her own.

How are we committed to each other? To answer this today, has become more difficult than some might think. Various forces work against our commitment to each other. Why?

In earlier times we were bound by commitment through different forms. To name only a few examples: Our families were the strongest form of commitment that we could share with each other.  Families were constructed through unconditional love for each other. Parents would run through fire for their children, whilst children were known for a spirit of gratitude, respect and loving compassion.

But we are also connected to each other through friendships. Friends accepted that their commitment is characterised by a spirit of “give and take”; that they act with respect and nobility toward each other; and that they stand by each other with valour during hard times.

A last example we can mention, is our commitment as students. In many respects our student bonds encapsulate what we have learned in our families and friendships about commitment. It is characterised by bonds of cordial participation in the student life; how to listen to each other during discussions and debates; and to show respect for academic principles like truth, beauty and goodness.

Today, as people, we are under pressure to only live for ourselves as individuals. Commitments like the traditional family and our cultural community are seen as hurdles. This prevents us from exercising our freedom of choice without hesitation.

This is confirmed by the public media. An important trend in popular TV series is to slimdown the underlying commitment of the different characters. In series like Game of Thrones and Succession, the characters only share the fact that each of them only chases their own individual interest for power. Of a mutual camaraderie and love between the different characters there is no mention.

Our underlying relationships are also placed under pressure by the winds of political correct ideologies that blows over some media, international businesses, states and university campuses. Evidently the lack of underlying commitment is patched through ideological and moral prescriptions.

Luckily it is only one side of the story. Today the contrary is also true. Despite the pressure our commitments are subjected to, they are lively at the same time. Indeed, the more pressure is placed on our underlying commitment, the more we are urged to see this. Deep down we know that our happiness and sense of commitment and our participation therein is dependent on it.

Prof. Danie Goosen is the executive head: Academic at Akademia.