Letter from the editors – 18 March 2022

[ORIGINALLY PRINTED IN SUIDERNUUS, 18 MARCH 2022]

 

No one would knowingly give their children drugs. Then why do people knowingly consume newspapers? Tricky question to start the editors’ letter of a newspaper, no?

Well, it’s not our question but one posed some 80 years ago by the eminent psychologist Carl Gustav Jung.

Explaining his thinking, Jung says newspapers tend to bring all the worst news they can muster together in one place where people then wallow in that toxic misery, with catastrophic effect for their emotional wellbeing.

The world doesn’t work like that, says Jung. Yes, there is misery, violence, viciousness and corruption. But there is also meaning, beauty, kindness, joy. And there is the plain simple mundanity of the day-to-day and work and duty and afterwards play. The world is a play between all these different dimensions. If you only emphasise one – like newspapers emphasise tragedy and misery – you do not get an accurate picture.

We wonder what Jung would have said if he could see how we live now. Never in the history of the world have people been materially so well off. Yet, the hatred and polarisation in our time has reached fever pitch – without a doubt spurred on by social media. And, no, it’s not us who say this, we just reiterate study upon study.

In any case, we got a note via Facebook from a reader earlier this week asking why we – unlike “the other local newspapers” do not report about “holiday owners [sic] and holiday makers whose money gets stolen” and whether Suidernuus “is unaware of what goes on in Struisbaai/Agulhas/Suiderstrand”.

The short answer is: No. We have positioned Suidernuus precisely not to carry every single crime story that hits the region. That does not mean we do not have empathy with people wat deurloop. But there are enough little WhatsApp groepies and Facebook blaadjies where people bemoan their lot about these crimes.

As must have become apparent since we have taken over, we have a gemeenskapsbou approach with the newspaper. We want to draw people together, not set them up against each other. We want to foster love, not hate.

We also want to zoom in on things we think make people read with pleasure not growing anger: stories, traditions, heritage, memories, news about nature, about great ideas and projects that help other people, create jobs and solve problems. In other words, we will not shy away from the problems, but we want to bring a constructive approach to them.

In this vein, our fibre optic story (11 March 2022 edition) contributed to prompting the Cape Agulhas Municipality (CAM) to this week exceptionally invite a resident – Roux Crafford – to address the municipality’s infrastructure division, the municipal manager, all councillors and all other managers on issues of public infrastructure generally. But more specifically also the issue of Crafford’s concern about the way the subcontractors of fibre optic operators flout their wayleave stipulations, as we reported last week.

Crafford has been driving this issue since last year as a concerned resident to ensure ratepayers’ interests are safeguarded. We believe through dialogue constructive solutions can be negotiated and we hope it will have such an outcome also in this instance.

We wonder sometimes, though, about the catastrophes people create with the power of their minds. It was another psychologist, the Auschwitz survivor Edith Eger, who said that the biggest concentration camp is our own minds. And each of us holds the key that can get us out of it.

Or as Gabriel García Márquez remarks in The Fragrance of Guava, and we paraphrase: people’s rationalism prevents them from seeing that reality isn’t limited to the price of tomatoes and eggs. One can look past the mundane and see the extraordinariness of life. (see p.8)

Some thoughts to ponder.

Best wishes,

The editors