I learned to recognise the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
From afar I see the humanity of people fighting for what they want for their country and the world.
I see the monstrosity of words that fuel fear and hate. Words that wound and splinter, rather than heal and unite.
I see Jekyll and Hyde duality reflected in hard-fought political arenas.
I see democracy and freedom, but also lies, inconsistencies and uncertainty.
I see our glorious human imperfection, our perfectly imperfect selves.
I remain hopeful that parents and teachers and friends around the world continue to live and breathe kindness, inclusivity and authenticity every day. That maybe mess might have something to offer.
Tonight, the Literature teacher in me looked to dystopian fiction to tell me something about the world I was experiencing. I was reminded of Lionel Shriver’s 2016 novel The Mandibles, in which the USA economy collapses and Mexico builds a wall to keep illegal American immigrants out. I tweeted quotes from novels out into the void as a form of sense-making.
The parent in me vowed to raise my boys to be respectful, kind, loving humans who understand the privilege and responsibility that comes with being male and white in a society that rewards being male and white. To become men with integrity, generosity and a sense of responsibility.
The teacher in me committed to maintain positive relationships with my students and a classroom environment in which everyone feels safe and heard, as well as challenged to consider their own context, beliefs and assumptions, and to contribute positively to one another and the world.
The school leader in me wondered about how to ensure that staff and students are safe, nurtured, compassionate, challenged to think critically, and strong enough to advocate for those who are marginalised, bullied or Othered.
Among the fear and hope, monstrosity and humanity, darkness and light, we cannot accept the legitimisation of exclusion or hate against groups or individuals defined by gender, race or religion. We cannot allow ourselves to be worn, bent or broken by hatred, racism, misogyny or fear-mongering. We can only try to live Gandhi’s challenge to be the change we want to see in the world. Be your awesome, beautiful selves.