Events of the past five months have seen the highs and unfortunately the lows of human behaviour across the globe. Inspiring stories of compassion and bravery in the bushfires that ravaged Australia in January, unrequested acts of generosity for those who have been affected by disaster and disease, and the unification of communities in the face of adversity and atrocious acts of violence have warmed our hearts and confirmed our faith in each other. Then there is the other side of humanity that the vast majority of communities around the world look at and wonder, ‘what on earth would make a person do that, to behave in that way at the expense of their neighbours and fellow citizens’.
At a time when stories in the media highlight the differences between individuals and communities, that for some people is a reason to perpetuate appalling behaviour, it is important that we recognise that there are far more commonalities between people that can bring us together than there are differences to drive us apart.
Regardless of differences of nationality, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, like and dislikes, or simply opposing views on topical issues, it is our need for life’s basic essentials and our desire to lead healthy, peaceful and productive lives that should serve to bind us as a global community. It should come as no surprise that a theme that is common to religions around the world is that of ‘treating others with respect, as you would want to be treated’.
In the 7+ years that I have lived in Launceston, I have seen a growth in the multi-cultural nature of the city as well as at Scotch Oakburn. Currently, there are students from 28 countries around the world who help make up the Scotch Oakburn student community. In a world that is becoming increasingly more accessible, either physically or via technology, what better education for our students than to grow up rubbing shoulders with those of different backgrounds, to learn to work together, to find our common ground and celebrate the differences that make life so interesting.
Recently Kate Croft, Deputy Principal and Head of Senior School, sent me an article about the effect COVID-19 is having on education around the world. In it was the following quote: “……. educators can no longer focus just on their immediate location or even solely their own country. Rather, the world now needs educators with global reach who understand the nature of human interdependence in a world characterized by the acceleration of change. Educators today are tasked with preparing a rising generation to seize the opportunities available to secure peace, enhance prosperity, and promote better understanding and harmony among different peoples.” From, ‘Teaching with and for the World’, by Dennis Shirley and Pak Tee Ng.
As educators and as parents we are all acutely aware of fostering a community, a society and world that we want to leave for our young people to live in and to lead. Therefore, empathy, respect, generosity and compassion will always be at the core of what builds strong communities, locally and globally.