A few days ago I received an interesting newsletter by mail, just as I was on my way out. Between two different commitments I had to wait about twenty minutes, and so I started reading the newsletter. But what I did, apparently spontaneously, was to read the articles first, and the editorial last! My immediate thought was, quite obviously: I wonder when readers of our Journal get to the editorial Foreword – that is, if they get to it at all.
Fortunately, however, this sobering little experience has not deterred me from faithfully adhering to the tradition of prefacing each issue of a journal with an editorial page or two. Fortunately also, I already had two ideas in mind, which I would like to share with readers of this issue – or at least, with those who might care to read this piece.
The first is about the experience of reading something that confronts you with a different way of thinking. It may be the mild experience of simply feeling that you are tactfully invited to a minor paradigm shift. Or it may be the sudden shock of realising that you are challenged to nothing less than a major change of mindset.
It so happens that each of the articles in this issue, and even each of the books reviewed, can provide the reader with a micro, macro or an in between experience of this kind. I am of course tempted to mention the mind-openers that I encountered while reading these articles and reviews, but I will refrain from doing that. I rather wish to grant every reader the opportunity of sensing the thrill of discovering a new perspective, or reaffirming a previous insight. At the same time I want to allow readers the freedom to search for new ideas in an unprejudiced way – or even to conclude that they could not find any surprising new view. From the editorial desk, however, we do trust that most of our readers will feel that for the time they devoted to this issue they have been rewarded, not only by new thoughts but also by calls to new ways of thinking.
The second idea I had in mind, was one about an experience which almost inevitably follows such a breakthrough in one’s thinking. One tends to feel the yearning to pass on your new (or newly confirmed) insight to others, and especially to those who are in situations where such an understanding may be of crucial and far-reaching importance. In particular, if this feeling is prompted by something in an academic journal, one may be inclined to ask how the worthwhile perspective could get beyond the academic precincts and make a difference in real life.
With regard to this question, more than one possible answer may be considered. Generally speaking, we may firstly say that all academic teaching and research should be life-oriented. We may therefore trust that every true academic will welcome each new, life-related idea, internalise and radiate it, and share it wherever appropriate in her or his teaching.
Secondly, however, we should be searching for ways of implementing, or at least promoting, specific applications. Accepting this responsibility may cause us to do something more after putting down the article concerned. It may just be a little bit of ‘extra trouble’, such as sending a copy of the relevant page(s) to an opinion former in the particular field. But the initial something may also develop into an ongoing and growing commitment to help bring about a change of approach and/or attitude in a particular area of our everyday life.
Enough said, in the shortest editorial I have written thus far. Let us read, and follow up where we feel prompted to spread a meaningful message.