February 1, 2023

Rector’s eNews – 01 February 2023

/ Rector's eNews

We sometimes take what is essential to our well-being for granted: this may be something as important to our existence as resources we regularly use – such as electricity or water. And then, with the passage of time, we may find ourselves realising that these commodities are precious and that we are in desperate need of them on a regular and reliable basis. This may lead us to consider what is really important in our lives.

So, too, we may take it for granted that certain attributes should naturally or, by osmosis, be part of our makeup, but if we do not re-affirm the huge importance of these characteristics or qualities we may not appreciate their value as we should.

The Michaelhouse Code has been important to the boys of this school and their families for many years. It is hardly an elaborate code, but contains five key elements which, we believe, should be fundamental to the way in which we lead our lives. We often fall short of measuring up to them, but nevertheless these qualities, we believe, should be at the forefront of our daily lives. I would hope that parents would want to explore these qualities with their children, even if that may only occur on long car trips back to school. What are these qualities and what do they mean to us?

Integrity: An integer is a whole number and the term integrity derives its meaning from “wholeness”. A person of integrity “does the right thing” without thinking principally of himself/herself. A person of integrity acts honestly and may put others first. He or she tells the truth even when this may lead to a less favourable outcome for him or her. A person of integrity does not swerve from that standard. He/She can be completely relied upon in all circumstances. To do the right thing as opposed to the expedient thing is all-important.

Courage: Allied to integrity is courage. It is a brave person who does the right thing. A courageous person stands up for what is morally right; a courageous person takes, at times, the more difficult road which is the right one rather than the easier path which is the wrong one. Such a person is a fighter for justice. He/She may be physically brave or morally brave. This is a person who has guts. A brave heart.

Humility: A person with humility does not think a lot of himself or herself. He/She is not a loudmouth. He/She plays down his own achievements and plays up the achievements of others. He/She accepts praise with grace but does not dwell on it. He/She gets on with the next thing in life. He/She is confident in himself/herself but recognises that others also have talents and abilities. He/She wears the mantle of success lightly and modestly.

Compassion: A compassionate person has the capacity to empathise with others and to relate to their needs. This implies that he/she will do something about those needs in uplifting or caring for people who are in need of that care. A compassionate person is not self-centred but looks outward to others, even those whom he/she does not know. He/She sees the big picture of humanity and the struggles of individuals and groups of people in a challenging world.

Service: The motto of the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst is “Serve to Lead”. For young people the notion of serving to lead is not always so obvious. For many, leadership is about being the top dog, having some responsibilities and having privileges and material benefits which others do not have. It is true that there are often privileges associated with leadership, but in a 21st democratic society, a leader who is not serving his people should be voted out of office. The interests of the broader society must come before one’s own interests. But service is not necessarily always bound up with leadership; the notion of service should ignite in a person a desire to do something for someone less fortunate, something which brings joy or a sense of well-being to someone else. Service is valuable for its own sake as it recognises a need and selflessly responds to that need.

The Michaelhouse Code may have a slightly different innuendo for you but, for what they are worth, I’ve shared my own thoughts on the Code which, if followed, we at Michaelhouse consider will create a significant man.

Read the full Rector’s eNews here


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