Letters to Eureka Street

The getting of values

The article by Freya Matthews (‘The art of discovering values’, Eureka Street, January–February 2006) is interesting and thought-provoking but I wonder whether it really advances understanding of the subject. I suspect the writer takes the same position that is also criticised in others. For example, towards the end of the article we read, ‘Children who become such independent thinkers will be well equipped to respond appropriately to future situations ...’ There is, in this, a quite clear value placed on ‘independent thinking’. There are many who would question that.

Others may well advocate instead that children need to first learn the mores and values of their culture. These may emphasise such things as honouring parents, obedience to authority and responsibilities to family and community. In one sense this is really no different to the importance of learning the oral and written language of their society. Without such grounding they can never learn to use language creatively and in ways that enable them to communicate with others.

I think it’s a bit unfair to describe Brendan Nelson’s proposal as something that would lead to asking children to ‘swallow a state-sanctioned nine-point code’. I also suspect it is naïve to think children can talk through the issue of morality without first having some grounding in a moral code of some sort. It’s like asking them to talk without ever having learnt speech.

Joe Goerke
Lesmurdie, WA

Niger’s sorry plight

Anthony Ham’s ‘Anatomy of a famine’ (Eureka Street, November–December 2005) turns the spotlight onto Niger’s sorry plight yet again, by presenting a background of causes for that country’s 2005 famine. And it is good information indeed.

That sad nation has been placed in a most parlous position in regard to providing the basic necessities for its 13 million people. Yet, in 20 years’ time, it will have to cope with an extra 13 million more than those who are already in need. The stressed womenfolk are currently burdened with an average of eight children each. The population increases at 2.8 per cent a year.

Anthony Ham wrote that Niger was a land of plenty in 1950s. For the then population it might very well have been. Even without the environmental predation foisted on the countryside, so adequately described by Anthony, the basic needs of an extra nine million since then would impose heavy burdens.

Colin Samundsett
Farrer, ACT

Vale the joy of print

It was with great sadness that I read your letter outlining changes for Eureka Street. While understanding that it was a hard decision that you have made with care and thought, I will miss the hard copy immensely.
I carry it with me on trains, trams, buses, planes, in the garden at coffee times, in waiting rooms, in bed for 20 minutes before falling asleep.

I have always looked forward to the physical pleasure of opening the packet, browsing and then mentally deciding the order of reading the most stimulating and rewarding of articles, etc. from such a wide range of people. Online will have nowhere near the same attraction.

It is a sad indictment of our current community values that I can go into the local small country town newsagent and find 20 almost identical glossy productions on ‘lifestyle’, all of them equally vapid and consumerist-oriented, yet barely find one publication that has any challenging stimulation.

My best wishes to you all for the future. I will continue my subscription even though the smell of the print doesn’t come through online.

I use online for information rather than knowledge and stimulation. Perhaps I need to reorder my priorities.

Roger Borrell
Port Fairy, VIC

The poorer for it

It is with a considerable sense of loss that I take note of your letter [informing subscribers of Eureka Street‘s move from print to online magazine]. In fact, it has taken me the best part of a week before I had the heart to take up my pen to respond. Not that your decision came wholly as a surprise: I could not help but notice that Eureka Street, like many another quality magazine, had been struggling to survive. Although I wish you well in your new venture, I will not be joining you in it as I still prefer the printed page to the computer screen. But I shall miss reading—and quoting—Eureka Street.

So much for my personal disappointment—but there is another aspect which I would briefly ask you to consider. I bought my first copy of Eureka Street (it was the one with Dean Moore’s marvellous Easter-tide cover) at a news-stand. Not long after becoming a subscriber I remember being thrilled to see a lady reading the magazine in a public space. This physical presence of Eureka Street meant something.

As one who has particularly valued Eureka Street’s strong stance on social justice, it seems to me especially regrettable that a ‘magazine of public affairs, the arts and theology’ should become invisible, as if it were going underground. In my view this leaves not only many of your readers, but the nation as a whole, poorer—and more vulnerable.

J. M. T. Groenewegen
North Ryde, NSW

It was Sir Eugene Goossens who was associated with Sydney identity Rosaleen Norton, not Sir Charles Mackerras, as D. L. Lewis stated in his review of Robert Holden’s book Crackpots, Rebels and Ratbags, in the January–February issue. We apologise to Sir Charles for this error.



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