Mission Report, May 28, 2015
May 27, 2015
Listening to the radio by chance I was fortunate to hear an expert in a particular South American language speak about the constructive relationship language and culture have on our view of the world. She made several observations that captured my imagination and raised questions. Firstly, where we would say -hi, how are you?- as a standard form of greeting, the greeting in this other language transliterates as -I recognise you as a person, what direction are you heading in?’- The explicit acknowledgment of the value of the other person in the standard greeting appears to me a most beautiful way to start a conversation. It is immediately followed by a concern for that person’s future.
Secondly, where we have the metaphor for time as the past -‘being behind us‘ and the future -‘in front of us‘, they have the reverse metaphor: the past is in front of us and the future is behind us. The reason for this is worthy of contemplation. This other culture submits we walk backwards into the future because we cannot see what lies in store in the events yet to come. Conversely, we can see the past because we know what has occurred in our history. This mirrors a quote from Blessed John Henry Newman: -Such is the process by which we succeed; we walk to heaven backwards-.
This view offers a profound insight into two current events of great importance: The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and National Sorry Day. In both events the tragedy of the past is before us all. But because we walk backwards into the future we must be learning from our past. St Patrick’s College must do all that is possible to be a witness to human dignity, so that the choices, decisions, commitments and actions in our yet-to-be-seen future promotes respect for every person on every occasion.
Every generation of St Patrick’s College must renew this commitment to the dignity of every human person. It is not a -‘war’ won once and for all but a constant battle against the evil in every age. The College marked Sorry Day with a solemn Assembly led by Mr Rick Balchin and many of our Indigenous students. Our annual commemoration of National Sorry Day renews our commitment to justice and joy for Indigenous Australians. We continue to pray constantly for the victims of abuse and tie ribbons to our front gate in symbolic solidarity. In all things, we pray constantly for the grace of God to walk courageously backwards towards a future of hope, love, justice and joy for all.