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Voices

Out of the darkness

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I cannot help thinking that we’ve been thrown back into the dark ages – literally – as I sit here in the dark, wondering when the lights will come back on and if loadshedding could possibly get worse.

It was at Stage 6 when I began writing, hoping that my laptop battery would outlast the period of loadshedding. Crazy times!

As my eternally pragmatic chairperson, Howard Sackstein, said this week, it’s a little difficult to be optimistic and upbeat in the dark.

However, being is the dark is a great leveller. We may have our differences with many people, but at the end of the day, when Eskom switches off the lights, it switches off all our lights. I know there are some who are off the grid and others who have massive generators, but for the most part, it has an impact on all of us and everyone in South Africa is smarting because of loadshedding.

We’re all in the same not-so-fabulous dark boat. We’re also all having to fork out exorbitant amounts to fill our cars. The good news is that our petrol prices are way lower than in the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, and most of Europe. I guess there has to be a silver lining, doesn’t there?

I know when you are feeling glum, it’s hard to believe that anything could be better here, but it is.

And then we can compare ourselves to the United States where the Supreme Court last week took the country 50 steps (at least) backwards into the dark ages by overturning Roe v. Wade. Originally, this watershed case made abortion a constitutional right in the country. Meanwhile, South Africa has the most progressive women’s reproductive health rights and laws in the world.

It wasn’t always like that, though. In my years as a journalist, I can recall the horrific stories I covered about illegal abortions. Women took desperate steps that ended their lives or permanently impaired them to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

In this week’s newspaper, we track down a South African doctor who helped so many women who weren’t in a position to be good parents. This man defied the law to help women who were desperate. He believed women had a right to choose. (See page 5.)

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a proud and loving parent. I adore my children, but I do believe that being a parent isn’t an easy task and not one that should be taken lightly.

There are a great many parents out there who shouldn’t have had children because their children aren’t a priority in their lives. I may sound terribly judgemental, but how many criminals do you think had parents who did their best for them? How many were given the best opportunities their parents could give them?

I’m talking across the board in this country and around the world. The core for any value-driven and moral adult is having had parents who loved them and brought them up consciously and to the best of their ability.

I know that many people who aren’t able to do this do give their children up for adoption. I salute those people because it’s extraordinarily difficult to give birth and then give your child away. They are honourable, because they give couples who yearn to have a family the chance to do just that.

However, far too few do this. And the rest becomes history.

I believe those who want to be parents should be taught what this means, and then tested on how they would fare. It shouldn’t be a given that you have children unless you are going to do right by them. Having been a journalist most of my life, I have seen so much sadness and despair among children for so many reasons. But had those children had parents who loved and cared for them, they might not have been in such situations.

Having children is the greatest responsibility, not one that should follow abuse, rape, irresponsible passion, or even just a little bit of fun. At least that’s my opinion.

So, for me, the US Supreme Court overruling Roe v. Wade is horrific. It literally takes the country into the dark ages. It takes the leader of the free world back to a place where women have no rights over their bodies and doctors are criminalised for giving women the choice over how to live their best life.

So, while I sit in the darkness, I feel sad for women in the US who have to face not having a respectful choice over their lives.

I know it sounds rich, but it’s easy to be judgemental about unwanted pregnancies. The truth is that it’s easy until you or someone you care deeply about finds themselves in this situation.

Then, for young women in the US, the legalities around this become a virtual jail.

What I find fascinating is that our halachic laws are so much more openminded and fair than the US Supreme Court judges. That isn’t surprising though, because Jewish laws are based on years and years of wisdom and learned minds.

Mapping Project

Deciding to put the Mapping Project story on our front page was, between you and me, not easy. We particularly wanted to put a positive story on our cover because we felt like we all needed something uplifting to start our weekend.

However, when so-called South African “human-rights” activists in Africa4Palestine endorsed mapping Jewish schools, shuls, and institutions in Boston, we needed to highlight this.

Even more so considering that the BDS organisation’s international headquarters, which kicked Africa4Palestine out a few years back, is vehemently against the mapping exercise. That doesn’t seem to bother our Africa4Palestine “human-rights” activists. This same group, which used to have on its website a whole section about not being antisemitic, supports mapping of Jewish institutions. What a farce!

Hence, it was important to alert you to this clearly antisemitic situation in the US that has its tentacles spreading here.

Here’s to a light and bright weekend!

Shabbat shalom!

Peta Krost

Editor

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