COVID-19 AND THE CHOICE BEFORE US ALL
My dear Junior members
We’ve often read of historical events in our textbooks. Today, we are living through one of the most momentous times in the history of Mankind. Stripped of all illusions of power and control, we face the stark reality of infection and possible death. As we go through this unique and unprecedented development in world history, it affords each one of us an opportunity to separate what is important from what is superfluous.
During the morning assemblies at College, one of the points I constantly talk about is leadership. I encouraged you to think like leaders anticipating the responsibilities that you will come into and eventually take charge of. On a few occasions I have also hinted that we prepare for that by practicing those qualities of leadership, even if only in small measure and circumscribed by our own limited lives. The time has now come when each one of us must act like a leader and come out to think at a larger level. We must begin that process with ourselves.
This is the worst of times. This is the best of times. This is an exceptional time to show those qualities which set you apart as a leader. Social distancing is a must. Taking charge of your life is a must. Protecting your life and the lives of your dear ones is a must. Concern and care for the ignorant, the poor, the weak and the helpless is a must. Let us practice all of these, beginning with ourselves. We have a choice to make this the best of times or the worst of times. Let us make the right choice.
Our governments, central and state, have declared a lockdown in most parts of the country. Respect it. Social distancing may appear cruel but in these precarious times it must be practiced, reminding us that it is only, ultimately, to be kind. You cannot protect others if you are infected; so, be careful. Keep your loved ones in mind and refrain from anything that will infect you and compromise them.
This time of forced isolation – far from your loved ones, far from your classmates, far from your teachers – is a golden opportunity to meditate, to look within, to pray. Please do that. I do not think we will ever again get an opportunity like this to think deeply on our lives, our relationships and what we consider necessary and what, superfluous. Leaders are those who proceed to create the future by doing what is right, just and true. Now is a wonderful opportunity for each one of us to reflect and identify those three elements in our lives. We stand stripped of all our imagined strengths and perhaps, even alone, before the reality of life. As we look at that stark reality there are two co-ordinates that can provide us with a rooted-ness, comfort, strength and hope. The fact that there is a benevolent power beyond us and the fact that we can think and choose what we want to do.
Yes, a benevolent power, even though today’s count of those who’ve lost their lives to COVID-19 is at 27,000 plus and counting. I choose to say a benevolent power because, despite the havoc we’ve (me included) wrecked on ourselves through indiscriminate pillaging of our Earth and its resources, despite our greed for things unnecessary, despite our obstinate refusal to understand that we are, after all, one species and not different countries, varied cultures or separate from each other, despite all these mistakes we’ve been given an opportunity to re-assess our priorities, an opportunity to humbly accept that we are Mankind and not isolated groups, an opportunity to realise that if we join forces we can make a better world. A chance for us to create a better future. We can be wiped out but, we’ve been given a chance. Benevolence from above.
We can choose what we want to do. We can continue to live irresponsible lives and hasten Mankind’s own tragedy. Or we can choose to reflect, correct ourselves and emerge stronger. One world. One better, stronger world. One better, stronger, enlightened world.
In these times I pray that each one of you will be led to look within and to make choices that will show you as good, healthy, upright men and women of character willing to serve, without risking the future. I pray that you will remain safe. I pray for your families – that you and they will meet and be healthy and happy. I pray that our College and our world will raise up generations that are responsible and responsive to themselves and to the world.
God bless each one of us.