Coming together as a community
I have been thinking a lot this week about ‘community’ and the things that bind us together.
Last Saturday’s Sponsored Walk was a tremendous occasion – we had lovely weather, a great route to walk with pleasant company, and good fun at the fête. I would of course like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who did so much to make it a success: from the PPA, to the school staff, and indeed to the boys themselves, whose positive and fun-loving approach to the whole venture made it all worthwhile. However, for me, the best thing about the morning was seeing the community come together. Through this sort of event, we all feel more closely bonded. It may simply be the chance for people to talk to those they didn’t know well before the event. It may be the feeling of satisfaction from having succeeded in a challenge (maybe completing the walk itself, or running a stall!). Perhaps it was sharing a chat with someone you’ve not seen for a while. Ultimately, for me, it is about enjoying the shared endeavour, and the time that we can spend together. Last night’s PPA Summer Drinks party provided another excellent opportunity to come together, this time without the children! It was a lovely evening; thank you to the amazing organising committee who put so much work into making it happen.
This morning the school was able to come together as a community to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty, the Queen. I am unashamedly a huge fan of the Queen. Over 70 years, she has offered a model of service and dedication, often through troubled and difficult times, which has demonstrated her determination and resilience. Through it all, she has maintained her decorum, and as I pointed out to the boys in assembly on Monday, her great sense of fun, and her humour too (these last two are vital!).
However, she has also provided a ‘centre of gravity’ to our nation, and it is easy to take that for granted. Matthew Syed (the Ping Pong guy!) wrote a particularly thought-provoking article in The Sunday Times a few weeks ago about the national pride which has seen Ukrainians returning home (some of them rich and high profile) to defend their country, and the power more generally of something considered quite old-fashioned these days – national identity. In his article he refers to words such as ‘solidarity’ and ‘co-operation’, saying that 'a healthy sense of nationalism' helps us to cooperate, and fuels the solidarity that nations need to be successful.
The Queen, and her example, helps me remember that I have ties to those I share these islands with. The sort of events that we had last Saturday help us to remember that we are part of a community here at school. National identity matters, and community identity matters too.
As Matthew Syed put it, in relation to the nation state: 'If the only obligations owed to our fellow citizens are those encoded in law, the nation state is dead and excessive individualism has won.' I would say that if the only obligations owed to our fellow Pilgrims’ are encoded in our rules, then the community is dead and excessive individualism has won.
Events like last Saturday matter. Thank you for sharing it with us all.