Posted on 22/06/2016
Doing the Right Thing, Not the Easiest Thing
Events over the last week or so have been horrific. Euro 16 has been marred by hooliganism, 50 people were killed on a night out in Orlando and most recently, an MP was murdered meaning a three year old and a five year old will never see their mother again. Fear, incomprehension, unfairness, extremism, terror and wickedness are just some words that appear to sum up the mood of the day.
But what has any of this got to do with FBS? Has school got a role to play in any of this?
Of course it has. As I said in my last blog, the primary purpose of The Fulham Boys School is to prepare our young men for life. History, Geography, French, school uniform, detentions, house points, assemblies etc are simply the tools we use to achieve that purpose. What then should FBS do in light of the week that was? How do we help our boys make sense of all this? How can we prepare them to face up to the reality of living in a world where bad things happen? What can we do to make them ready to live in, as the DfE would say, ‘Modern Britain’?
First, by just getting on with it. Lessons carry on as normal, breaktime still means playing football, cricket, relaxing in the library, eating a cookie, getting ownwork done in the computer room or playing a game of ‘infected’! None of these atrocities should paralyse us with fear, stop us living our lives, and preventing children being children and feeling happy and safe. It’s business as usual. Our job remains to engender in FBS boys a determined, gritty resilience that refuses to cower in the face of wickedness and terror.
Secondly, not only do we get on with it, we stand up for it. We pump into our boys the importance of standing up for justice, not looking the other way when they see something taking place which is wrong. There is no place for by-standers at The Fulham Boys School. There is sometimes a cost involved in sticking up for your school mate or standing up for justice, but Fulham Boys do the right thing, not the easiest thing. As Martin Luther King once said, ‘In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends’.
Thirdly, it is ensuring our boys are not afraid to think and question; to have convictions and beliefs; that they’re not fearful of not being politically correct and are free to go against the crowd. They need to see that the actions of some wicked people acting on a ‘belief’ does not mean that the rest of us can’t hold strong beliefs and values. If a belief leads a person to violence and hate then it is clearly wrong and should be condemned. But the test of a tolerant society is surely one that means we can hold opposite views, say when we think others are wrong, be so convinced in what we believe that we can try to convince others to believe the same – but all the time respecting one another, being good neighbours, even good friends?
This transparent, questioning, thinking approach can’t be taken for granted. I fear there is increasing prevalence of ‘bullying’ that makes people afraid to speak out and speak up; a bias that intimidates people into feeling they are not allowed to speak out against things they disagree with if they go against the mood and thinking of the day. I was given stark evidence of this recently, in the debate about whether a presenter who believes in a God who made the world should be allowed to present breakfast TV. I mean who is the most biased and narrow minded: The man who believes in a God who made the world or the man who says because he believes in a God who made the world shouldn’t be able to present breakfast TV?
We want our boys to think and question; to change society not simply be seduced by it. To have the courage of their convictions but at the same time to be kind and caring. To be fearless and brave and always do what is right, even when it’s not easy.