Friday 22 March 2019

Leadership

In the aftermath of the recent tragedy in New Zealand, we have witnessed one of the greatest examples of leadership in modern times. A diminutive but determined Jacinda Ardern has shown extraordinary compassion, great courage and a resolute regard for what is right, despite carrying the grief of a nation that is suffering its worst violation in its relatively young history. This young mother has shown many of the world’s established leaders how to lead: with conviction, righteousness, integrity and a moral strength that holds fast to a vision of tomorrow where blame becomes redundant to care and compassion. It is not without significance that Jacinda Ardern has respectfully donned the Muslim-style scarf over recent days, as she embraces a community who are suffering such profound loss and grief. In the spirit of solidarity and inclusion, Ardern has asked that today – one week after the massacre, all New Zealanders consider wearing headscarves in support of the Muslim community. In addition, New Zealand radio and television will broadcast the Muslim call to prayer and by way of full reciprocation, mosques will open their doors to people of all faiths as an opportunity to heal and move forward. And, in some quarters, there is even a call for forgiveness. The latter seems inconceivable, but it is the only way that the confusion and anger that is so abundantly apparent at the present time will be countered going forward. It is the very humble and human response to the pressing adversities of life – none more devastating than the tragedy in New Zealand, where real leadership comes to the fore. At the helm has been Jacinda Ardern; may we take example from this woman of great depth and humility who has carried her nation while it has bled – metaphorically and physically. And, may we pray for the victims and their families, and for a leader whose moral courage has shaped a contemporary model for leadership in the world.

While events at the College seem to pale into insignificance compared to the global stage, they hold their own contextual importance as the term moves into the latter stages. Most summer sports concluded their programs over the weekend, and what a mixture of experiences and outcomes have eventuated. For nearly 250 boys, it was the first time that they have pulled on the ‘blue & white’, be that in the pool, on the river, on the field or on the court. For some codes such as Senior Basketball (Firsts and Seconds), Golf, and Mountain Biking, success abounded with performances that saw outstanding results registered and Premierships secured. Not so with many however, where success was measured by the cultivation of new friendships, the acquisition of skills and proficiencies that were entirely novel and enriching, the development of teamwork and the importance of fitness. But, it is not all over for the rowers, who tomorrow represent the College at the Head of the River amid the fanfare and theatre of an event that reaches back to the earliest days of the GPS. We wish them well after an intense summer of training that has seen dozens of dawn practice sessions, hours in the gym and a commitment to a program that has seen such a delicate combination of demand and reward.

While the rain throughout the week greened the fields and softened the landscapes, it had the by-product of preventing the T20 Cricket Match in support of Redfern Jarjum College from going ahead on Monday. Former Test Cricketers and Australian Rugby players were among the celebrities who committed to be involved on the day, but the sodden pitch and inclement weather saw the cancellation of the annual fundraiser that has produced so many gains for three communities over recent years. Thankfully, the energy of the Saint Ignatius’ and St Aloysius’ school communities sold hundreds of raffle books well in advance of the day, and the combined fundraising has totalled over $23,000. In a small school with very limited funds, this represents a massive financial injection and one that is cause for pride and ownership as it supports some of the most vulnerable First Nations’ boys and girls in inner Sydney. Special thanks are extended to James Rodgers, the boys and the celebrities who otherwise carved time to be involved, and to our very generous parents, Old Boys and friends whose generosity produced another outstanding result.

March 21st was World Poetry Day. Poetry is regarded as the creative language of the heart that opens windows into other worlds – into the minds, life experiences and perceptions of others. It is a way of appreciating difference and diversity: the beauty of nature, the impact of the seasons and the depth of human endeavour. During the week the boys were encouraged to appropriate the creative spirit by constructing their own digital poems, investigating haiku, and recalling memorable verses and sentiments from some of the greatest poets in history. In the words of Walt Whitman:

We don’t read and write poetry because it is cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. So medicine, law, business, engineering – these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love… these are what we stay alive for. (Leaves of Grass)

We enter the final three weeks of the term. Rather than see this as a time to begin to prepare for the break, it represents the intensification of the assessment regime and the completion of term work requirements. I urge all to maintain the very fine momentum that has been established early in the year, to attend to systematic revision and study schedules, and to ensure that the final weeks are ones of preparation for the coming term rather than the end point of the existing one.

Dr Paul Hine