From the Head Master
Earlier this week I spoke with the Middle and Senior School boys about charity fundraising, which is an ongoing feature of life at the School. The following text is a slightly modified version of that address.
Almost every week a group of students will undertake charity fundraising activities on behalf of others. Already this year we have seen Henderson House selling donuts and wearing strange ties to raise funds for Dr Daniel Nour’s StreetSide Medics. Senior School students have taken part in the World’s Greatest Shave, raising money for cancer research. The Community Service co-curricular group has collected goods for flood relief. Later this week some senior students will be running a BBQ to raise funds for the First People’s Disability Network. There will be many more such initiatives in the months to come. These are all worthy causes, and I commend the boys who are leading these initiatives.
As you have heard many times, a Christian conviction that is foundational to our school is that every person is made in the image of God and therefore inherently and equally deserving of respect, dignity and regard, regardless of their giftedness, their wealth, their potential, their appearance, their race, their sex, or their circumstances. This conviction compels us to have empathy for other people, because they are not ‘other’ to us.
We also need to recognise that the people gathered around this quad come to life from a position of relative advantage and privilege. By and large, compared to the population of the world, we are extraordinarily privileged. Compared to the population of Australia, we are privileged. This is not to suggest that we all have an easy road. Nor is it to suggest that we should beat ourselves up about our privilege. However, we need to recognise that we have been given much and therefore much should and will be expected of us. To frame the point another way, we have disproportionate power and opportunity to do good.
Christians believe that the fundamental obligations that sit on all of us are the call to love God and to love others. In fact, we show our love for God in the way that we love others – in considering them more highly than ourselves, in walking the extra mile to help them, in putting aside our own interests to act in their interests.
At our best, these obligations underpin our efforts with charity fundraising. Our goal is to help others.
However, I want us to make an observation. Our efforts with charity fundraising have two sorts of impacts. First, and most importantly, it helps others. Second, it also has an impact on us. It shapes us. As we pay attention to the challenges faced by others and as we take action to assist, there is a formative effect on us. Helping other people becomes engrained in our habits and character.
However, the formative effect is proportionate to the effort it takes or the cost that we experience. If it takes little effort, it will have little impact.
As we think about the various fundraising activities that go on, it is very easy for us to contribute with minimum pain. There is no hardship in buying a Krispy Kreme or a sausage sandwich. It’s fun to wear mufti or some sort of uniform variation. There is a novelty to shaving your head. It is not hard to grab something out of the family pantry to donate to flood relief.
I reiterate: it is always a good thing to help others. However, I want to encourage you to be willing to lean into the inconvenience. Be prepared to take the lead and to bring others with you, even in the face of their lack of interest. Be the ones to be there early and finish late, to set up, pack up and clean up.
It is easy to grab something from the cupboard – hard to buy it with your own money.
It is easy to have your head shaved – hard to persistently ask others to support you
It is easy to buy something sweet – hard to do the organisation and set up and pack up and clean up
It is easy to click or like or share – hard to give up your time and effort.
If you only do it when it is easy, you won’t do it when it is hard.
If we want to be the kind of men who bring good to our world, we need to lean into the hard stuff now. Character is revealed in the big moments, but it is formed in the small ones. Character is revealed in the years to come, but it is formed here.
Detur gloria soli deo
Tim Bowden | Head Master