In his most recent weekly column Steven Friedman referred to the Rugby World Cup excitement in SA and concluded that calls for unity will divide more than they unite. (“All those calls to ‘come together’ will divide us further”, November 13).
He cautions South Africans against getting carried away by the excitement and correctly reminds us that many deep divisions and differences remain despite the Springbok victory.
But why does he assume celebrating South Africans have lost their sense of reality, and that those calling for South Africans to work together are ignoring that our divisions are real? Friedman normally rightly applauds the political wisdom and maturity of ordinary South Africans. Why the assumption that South Africans who celebrated the Springbok victory have been bamboozled into living in a make-believe world? Can’t we all just celebrate for once?
I am going to a wedding soon to celebrate the “coming together” of a friend and his bride, and celebrate I will. I will do so even though I know that more than four in 10 marriages in SA end in divorce before couples get to celebrate their 10-year anniversaries, and that my friend therefore has a good chance of facing divorce in the not-too-distant future. Should the reality of SA’s divorce statistics prevent me from celebrating? Why proceed from the concern that their wedding will end in a divorce rather than that they will have a happy marriage?
Come on, Dr Friedman, let those who believe the glass is half full occasionally have their day. We have enough half-empty glasses to cope with. What the celebrations showed is that millions of South Africans are ready to move into a new paradigm where they can come together to make this country work.
We should celebrate this, even though the “how” and “who” remain beyond our grasp. Rather than seeing the celebrations as indicators of naïvety, they should be celebrated as signs of hope.
Peter Gastrow, Cape Town
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