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The importance of community

It has been a great week to be in our community. Last week's fireworks display was a wonderful community occasion. To enjoy an event like that, together, was special.

The School's Remembrance Service was moving and special too; I was particularly taken with Mr du Plessis' anthem, which was sung beautifully by the Chamber Choir.  On Sunday, I attended the Remembrance Service in the Cathedral; again an impressive community endeavour.  This morning's Children in Need event and the Promenade Concert was another opportunity to gather and enjoy the company of others (and do good at the same time).

A striking theme underlying of all of these events is Service. It is especially key to Remembrance, and I was particularly impacted and challenged by the Dean's sermon on Sunday when she spoke about the personal battles which rage within each of us: between self-interest and a willingness to serve others; between despair and hope; and between hate and love. To this I would add the battle between self-confidence and doubt, and its resultant impact on anxiety and well-being is as we know, a hot topic.  It is common to worry about all these battles (even to be anxious about them), but it is reassuring to know that most of us experience them and, as the Dean pointed out, it has ever been the case. 

People find different ways to cope with these battles: a set of moral ethics, religious belief, a love for family or others.  As I reflected on that sermon, I was comforted simply by the knowledge that if we accept that these battles rage in us all, they can be something which is more easily lived with.  Doubt is perhaps the biggest of them all, and we all suffer from this at times; however, doubt is a common and indeed sometimes a productive state.  Indeed, for me, it is often certainty that is the enemy.  An abundance of self-confidence tends to arrogance, to live only with hope is idealistic, to love naively can lead to being taken advantage of.  We all have to live with self-interest, despair and hate, essentially to live with doubt.  An interesting TED article was shared with me recently, and its author, Rich Karlgard, wrote: “Self-doubt is normal. It’s a mistake to believe that you, me, or any of us are alone in facing this problem. Popular musicians, world-renowned brain surgeons, and even the brightest and most creative aren’t immune to this nagging sense of dread….To bloom, we must learn not to fear self-doubt but to embrace it as a naturally occurring opportunity for growth and improvement.” Doubt often helps us to stay on the right path. 

Indeed, it is comforting to know that humans, most often, manage to overcome these internal battles, and that they can be a positive.  It is also good to know that one of the ways that we cope with these is through our connections to others, and our service to them.  That is a reason to be connected to a community, and why community events, like we’ve seen this week at Pilgrims’, matter so much.

Alistair Duncan
Interim Head

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