Posted on February 11, 2020 / From our Principal
Our treatment of others says much about how we see ourselves
The scale and breadth of the recent period of tragedy, trial and challenge for communities all over Australia and the world is unprecedented in my memory, as I have written and said several times during recent weeks. The sadness arising from the spring and summer bushfires, the coronavirus and repeated smaller and larger terrorist, and other violent, events we have seen, will be lying heavy on the hearts of all of us.
What has been both remarkable and uplifting to me has been the response of people to these circumstances. The international support for Australian bushfire victims has been on an unprecedented scale, with international bodies, sportspeople, musicians and performers and celebrities joining common Australians and many others, in donating and supporting without delay and with enormous generously.
Inside our country we have seen donations of things that really made a difference in the early days after fires devastated rural, regional and metropolitan communities. Food and water, clothes and bedclothes, toys for children, fuel and other staples were all given immediately and in quantities that led organisers to need to ask people to stop, they had enough of everything!
As I have written in my letter to the community, our own School Leaders began to devise their proposal for our School’s response whilst still on their holidays and that initiative has already begun. Similarly, the Friends of Equestrian have also acted to support families with stock feed through their ‘Buy a bale’ program. The leadership both these initiatives are providing is an important aspect of young people believing they can truly have a role in shaping their own world and feeding their optimism for their future.
Also gratifying and impressive has been our community’s response to the challenges brought by the Coronavirus. While Tintern adopted a more stringent position on self-isolation than many other independent schools did initially, and certainly tighter than that recommended by both State and Federal governments, we did not receive a single complaint about this. Many families chose to self-isolate even before our communication on this out of concern for others in the community and I know that many of our parents encouraged each other to follow the School’s expectations. Our summer travellers and our international students have looked after themselves and the remainder of the community, and in doing so have bound us together in confidence and trust.
Both these responses strike me as being extensions of the commitment our students make to the Green Team and the Social Justice Group, both of which are entirely student-driven, and both of which exist solely to improve circumstances for others and the broader world.
It leads me to feel that in our community, our country and perhaps more broadly, we are moving slowly away from a period where the rights of the individual seemed to trump the rights of the group or community, and more towards actions and thinking that supports, develops and values the “we”, above the “I”. As always, it seems to me, this is being led by the remarkable young people in our school and in other schools, fuelled by their positive optimism and commitment to others – truly factis non verbis!
I cannot help but conclude that the future is in good hands.