In our most recent eNews, we looked at stories of Canberra Girls Grammar School during the Second World War for guidance on how to behave in times of great challenge and upheaval. We can and must learn from history and, additionally, look forward to create a better world. In war times, CGGS got on with life day by day, finding a common cause and becoming a community based on resistance, defiance, and on mutual need. They just had to do the job to get through. They hoped for victory, worked and suffered for it.
There will soon come a time when the pandemic has died down, or is under control; when there will be a vaccine. What then? As after the Second World War, we will have a battered economy and we will be reeling from the trauma, many of us grieving.
We will have learnt what our predecessors learnt: that community is every bit as important as the individual — indeed, that the individual is lesser without it; that we all need one another; that those who look after us are precious, never to be taken for granted again; that everyone really does and must matter.
Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.
Change means growth, for the women and men in a community, individually, or for the sum of those within the community or organisation. Our recent past is an opportunity. We now have a defining, collective story. We now have our generation’s story.
I hear that some can’t wait for everything to get back to normal. But there will be a new normal. Surely out of this must come a moment of hope for humanity, when we can gather ourselves to create a world community and learn how to live together more equitably, in peace and in harmony with one another and our planet.
Will the time of internet influencers and of binary thinking be over? Will the habit of narrow, unhelpful comparisons fall by the wayside – replaced by balanced and ethical divergent thinking? From a ‘2019 world’ defined by social media and polarised opinions, is it a time for the listening revolution?
Paul Samuelson, an American Nobel laureate, remarked “When my information changes, I alter my conclusions”. For every change, modification or cancellation made at CGGS during the pandemic, we have been journaling and planning the underlying mechanisms of opportunity and change. In whole-school conversations about opportunities and growth out of this challenge, we have discovered new ideas and some practices and processes that will be modified.
Our past students and staff rose out of the ashes of war and built their world anew. Our ancestors did not get everything right after that war. But they tried, and so will we.
Mrs Anna Owen