I’m delighted to see so many letters this week from new contributors but am bemused that it is the opinions of others and not one of our stories that prompted the influx (page 4).
Sadly, letter writing is becoming a lost art with fewer and fewer people prepared to put their name to an opinion. Perhaps it’s because it is so easy to offer anonymous comment in the world of social media, where vexatious, defamatory and mean words fill vast voids. It is certainly easier to express a view when you don’t need to own it. Putting your name in print takes courage and conviction.
We value our letter writers and the time they take to put pen to paper (yes, some still do – and they pay for a stamp and post them to us). We’ll always endeavour to provide a broad range of views on our letters page and hope more readers will take up the challenge to contribute. But we’ll also continue to publish those writers who never miss a week. If nothing else, it assures us they are alive and well.
Being alive and well is certainly something worth writing about when you have faced as much trauma as young mum Jonty Bush. I was working on the Sunshine Coast when Jonty’s 19-year-old sister Jacinta was stabbed to death by her boyfriend on that terrible day in July 2000. It was a hideous crime but the death of their father Robert, only four months later, seemed a cruel and unbearable epilogue. How Jonty and her brother Jason survived those dual tragedies is impossible to imagine, so it was wonderful to read Leisa Scott’s story about Jonty’s new life (page 10).
Our experiences certainly help define us, and while Jonty’s relationship with her mother was less than perfect, it is clear from Leanne Edmistone’s story (page 14) what a vital role mums play in the mental and physical health of young girls. To be imperfect is to be human and perhaps if we were more accepting of our differences, there would be less turmoil in our world.
But 100 years after the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest conflicts in history, it is clear that turmoil and war is something the human race cannot (or will not) eradicate from our planet. Kylie Lang visited France earlier this year and was deeply moved by the memorials (page 17). With major commemorations planned for next month, we can only hope such horrific loss of life is not repeated this century (or next).
And finally, in only one week, we will have the chance to influence the destiny of our country – without the bloodshed of a war. It is trite but true that millions of people have died so we can elect a democratic government – so it is important we don’t waste our vote. Last week we got an insight into Liberal MP and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, and today we get a behind-the-scenes look at his ALP opponent, Linda Lavarch (page 22). Whether you vote Liberal, Labor, Greens or Independent, it is always interesting to meet the people behind the politics.