When the chips are down

It’s so easy nowadays to be dismissive. Someone espouses an opinion with which we disagree, and we discard it without a second thought, attributing ignorance, arrogance, incompetence — as the case may be — to the author. Narcissism seems to be a label gaining in popularity. Somehow it almost seems cool to share the drama of the latest battle with your narcissist, liberally topped with a dose of contempt, to a strangely desensitised yet enthralled audience. Symbolically crumpling up another’s view on a piece of paper and blithely tossing it over our shoulder, we walk on to the beat of our own drum, in danger of happily confirming our own bias in a not-so-virtuous circle as we move on through life.

Of course, one of the wonders of an education at Canberra Girls Grammar School is that our students learn to think independently. In doing so, they practice the art of consciously challenging their perspectives to learn and grow. We know this is a good thing. Our classrooms are safe spaces to do this. We value the debate and embrace the moments of personal cognitive dissonance to become better thinkers. Better scholars. Better debaters. But I wonder, how do we translate this into positive action to make us the best version of ourselves?

We can see all around us that we value diversity in our community. In fact, we celebrate it in a hundred different ways on a hundred different days within our School. We see open minds and humble curiosity — and yet we spend our lives comparing ourselves to others, measuring ourselves against manufactured ideals of "perfection". That’s a tough place to be in this fickle world of impossible perfection and incessant upgrade.

Except when it’s our friend in need.

Except when it’s one of our own facing the firing line.

Except when the chips are down.

When we find ourselves in times of trouble (thank you, John Lennon), our community rallies. Despite whatever differences we may have, or perspectives we may defend, our core values of inclusion, courage and integrity anchor our humanity and we find ourselves united. We see the bigger picture, and in distilling what really matters from the noise of our modern world, our differences fall away. The generosity, kindness and compassion offered in support of those in need — without hesitation — is truly humbling. This is our community. And it’s a community of great beauty. May we always be grateful for the goodness we have, and reflect with thanks, for all who give of themselves so willingly in her service.

Ms Ellena Papas
Executive Director (Operations)