Opposite side to coin

Johan van Zyl,Gordon’s Bay

This letter’s purpose is to try to calm the emotive difference of opinion which has erupted unexpectedly in the latest Bolander issue (“Different viewpoint”, October 24), even causing your political analyst to temporarily forego his regular column.

Far be it from me to try to compete with the two gentlemen in their knowledge of SA history from both winner’s and loser’s perspectives, but I as a septuagenarian and avid reader of history might have something to offer as a contribution to a better understanding of these issues.

My take is that the writer of the letter and your columnist are both right in their views, and they are both wrong.

Many people in their lifetime read only those topics which correspond to their own set of prejudices.

In time they become inflamed with their ideas and tend to disregard conflicting opinions.

This is one of the instances where I believe your columnist is correct.

But I find it surprising that he did not in the least try to admit that the letter writer did make some valid points, for instance in stating that “… some black tribes took land from weaker tribes by conquest.”

You see, the problem lies in both writers trying to win an argument that cannot be settled in a month of Sundays, if ever.

Too many people believe that the land issue started in 1652, and that it is inherently a South African problem. On both counts, it is not.

Sadly, some of our politicians are maliciously adept in capitalising on these lies in their fervour to score points at the polls.

It has been leading over the years to a situation where the SA pot of dissent, with all of us in it, is on the boil.

The ingredients within, us included, are suitably different so that we find reason to agitate one another, jostling for room. In fact, the very pot itself is too small to cope.

Ignorance, greed and hatred are the coals beneath, glowing in the heat of our time.

We are going to have to lower the temperature to prevent a disasterous blow-up.

How can we do that?

Firstly, by grappling with the problem of ignorance.

Give our precious children the schooling they desperately need, based on sound principles of education.

Bring back discipline which was thrown out of the window.

Empower teachers to convey to their learners the necessary values and skills to live harmoniously in a difficult world.

We must get those fabulous educators who have lost faith in the system back to the classrooms, those who are able to truly enrich the minds and souls of their charges.

Secondly, by taking the dilemma of greed by the horns.

There is only so much “wealth” to go about, and it is less than what most people think.

We are by our very biology a population of consumers, and the danger lies in reaching a state where we start consuming our own means of existence.

We have to share, but not by expropriation without compensation, because that would give credence to the notion that SA’s colonisation by European powers was not inevitable.

I am of a mind that the creation and provision of jobs lies at the core of our country’s problem of sustainable future stability.

Thirdly, by tackling hatred, that destroyer of the world.

Let’s be frank: we are not all hateful.

There is talk of the good people, the ‘silent majority’, not standing up to crime and injustice.

But it takes only one more hateful act, like a murder committed on the streets, one more home invasion in the area, to convince the community to finally lock their doors and bar their windows.

That’s such a sad predicament when law-abiding folks find themselves surrounded by hatefulness.

Here’s the opposite side of the coin: we are not all nice and loving.

I have in me all the attributes required to propel me into a life of crime.

Each day I need to do battle with my natural self. Consequently, I do not have the right to start blaming other people.

We must look at our own blights and blemishes before pointing self-righteous fingers at other people.

Our country’s leaders will do well to get out of the blame-game they have become so fond of, and work to quell the fires of hatred wherever that ugly head rears.

This correspondence is now closed – Ed