Be optimistic – see and judge the glass half full!!

Last week my blog focused on the legacy of Joseph Cardijn which introduced us to the three truths and especially the method we have come to know as “See, Judge, Act”. I elaborated on the truth of reality and experience and importantly on the first part of the method and that is “to see”. This week I would like to elaborate on the truth of faith and the second part of the method “to judge”.

The truth of faith is fundamental in that every person has a God-given dignity and therefore we respect that dignity in every person in our community. A number of years ago I attended a conference that looked at the development of a newborn. I watched footage of a mother and her interactions with her baby, and over time the beautiful interactions of the mother talking and smiling at her child were reciprocated with the baby smiling and making noises. These early interactions show the beautiful stage of a baby developing their personality, feeling safe and responding to this caring stimulus. When I see my own one year old granddaughter and smile at her, she smiles back and makes beautiful noises and is already starting to say words. This is dignity developing at a young age through love, care and support.

This is no different as we grow older and interact and build relationships with one another. Jesus said in John 13:34 “Love one another, as I have loved you”, and in Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus said: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment and the second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself.”

The second part of the method “to judge” is underpinned by the above, that in dealing with the circumstances having considered the reality and experience of the situation through many lenses, we “judge” on the basis of the gospel message of love and the inherent dignity of every person.

So here is our challenge. Like you I am watching daily the events of what is happening in our nation and overseas. We are six months into this global pandemic since the first case was reported in Australia. It seems like an eternity and I am beginning to think ‘how much longer?’ The news is not good with information circulating that we will have to live with this virus into the future, that a vaccine is some months away, if not next year, that many people are struggling emotionally as well as financially and that we see too many cases of what appears to be people being ignorant of the virus and putting others at risk by not following government regulations. Suddenly, the messages above become difficult to consider. The reality is that we feel unhappy, anxious, angry, helpless and perhaps hopeless. This is the truth of reality and we cannot discount what is happening. So how do we put the lens of loving one another and understanding the dignity of every person and especially those who appear ignorant of the regulations and place others at risk?

A good starting point is to not focus on those aspects alone but rather focus on what we see as the good that is happening across our nation. In other words, use the analogy of “the glass half full” – an optimistic outlook. Everyday the majority of people do care deeply about what is happening in our community, we adhere to the co-responsibility of keeping people safe and we do whatever we can to support those who are doing it tough. Australia has a great record of doing this in times of disaster. Well, a disaster has now been declared in Victoria and we need to pray and support all those in Victoria so that the curve can flatten, and the virus be controlled and suppressed. Nothing is going to be gained at being angry about this other than ensuring that those most vulnerable are looked after and whatever we can do to make this an opportunity to shine. To be guided on what these two scriptures from John and Matthew teach us about humanity. This is the lens of being able to judge in light of God’s infinite love for people and our challenge in this.

Dr Paul Rijken is principal of Cardijn College, an R-12 co-educational Catholic school in the Marist tradition, deeply inspired by the method of College patron Joseph Cardijn with a foundation built on the three pillars of his teachings; to See, Judge and Act. Educating and inspiring students in the beautiful Southern Vales region of Adelaide since 1984, Cardijn has grown to encompass three schools, each with distinct offerings. Cardijn College Galilee at Aldinga offers Reception to Year 7, expanding to include Year 8 in 2022 and Year 9 in 2023. Cardijn College at Noarlunga Downs offers Years 7-12 and is renowned for academic excellence and a vibrant extra-curricular program. Cardijn College Marcellin at Christie Downs provides a wide variety of vocational education and training opportunities for students in Years 10 – 12 and beyond, with relationships that extend well into their careers. With a current enrolment of 1750 students and 240 staff, Cardijn College is an institution which strives to be a beacon of faith in the community, with students who have enormous influence and impact on both a local and global level. Paul has been the principal at Cardijn College since 2005. He has a Ph.D. from Curtin University in Science and Mathematics Education. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educational Leaders.

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