“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” This line from C.S. Lewis should inspire us all to face the future with confidence.
We’re living through a PANDEMIC! That is something that belongs in all caps – it is no small thing and something that we should more readily acknowledge. Our human psyche acts rapidly to normalise the unfamiliar as a coping mechanism. This phenomenon can play out in minimising the seriousness of a situation. However, every now and then I encourage you to slip back out of this mode and, while avoiding panic, take a moment to acknowledge the genuine gravity of what we are all negotiating.
While there is little merit in being melodramatic, I do think that it is fair to suggest that for most of us this is the largest disruption we have faced in our lives.
Previous to the COVID 19 outbreak I thought that global pandemics belonged in science fiction books and blockbuster Hollywood action films.
As a community we have coped remarkably well with this previously unimaginable situation. It is amazing to consider that we have found ways to maintain education, connections with loved ones, new ways of working and many have used the time to explore new hobbies and interests. At a global level we have seen extraordinary changes to our patterns of transport, recreation, employment and consumption.
We have grown used to listening carefully to the words of our politicians as their statements have a direct impact on what we are allowed to do, where we are allowed to go and with whom. Previously political commentary more often seemed like rhetoric and jargon that was removed from the realities of our daily lives.
Before COVID 19, the most significant local crisis I remember was the Esso Longford gas explosion of 1998 when Victoria’s gas supply was shut off due to a fatal explosion and fire. For a few weeks we were without gas for hot water and cooking. My main memory of this is warmly nostalgic – it is of my grandparents (who had still-operational electric hot water systems) making the most of it to fuss over us and enjoy extra contact with their children and grandchildren who negotiated a timetable for access to hot water to shower before work, school or, in my case, university.
I hope that as we emerge from this period of isolation, our children will likewise focus less on the gravity of the pandemic and instead have their memories coloured with the warmth of this unique period of enforced togetherness with our loved ones.
Prior to the COVID 19 crisis some of the dominant discourse on social media related to inter-generational critique. In particular some criticism was directed at contemporary youth who were characterised as “snowflakes”, seen as having no capacity to cope with adversity due to being over pampered rather than parented.
The recent experience at King David, however, tells a different story. When faced with genuine adversity and substantial disruption to daily lives, our students have shown remarkable flexibility, positivity and strength of character. They have responded maturely to the changes enforced upon them and have maintained their values of fun, caring and community.
I could not be prouder of our incredible students – they have shown their true selves and I know that they will remain as full of optimism and good humour in good times as they have in the more challenging ones. There is little doubt that this will set them in good stead for a great future.