Dr. Paul Barker | Good Counsel President
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Barely a year ago, I wrote a midsummer letter to the Good Counsel community about horrific shootings in Dallas. Today, I write in response to yet another frenzied attempt to shred our frayed social fabric. Like you, I am appalled and angered at the hatred and violence this past weekend in Charlottesville.
We are all aware of the deep divisions in our culture – racial, socio-economic, religious, political – that have only become more prominent in recent months. Talking heads engage with issues, often in a parody of serious debate, in our chambers of government, via our news outlets, and on our streets. Gradually, I have found my own opinions and how I express them become coarsened. Social settings have the potential to erupt with antagonism. It sometimes seems that the easy solution is to keep one's opinions to oneself. Tread lightly. Make no waves. Say nothing.
At some point, one cannot stay silent. When the cherished right to free speech becomes a tool to marginalize, oppress, and take away the freedom of others, we have a moral duty to speak up. I have heard and read plenty of euphemisms to describe the Unite the Right rally. The eye test, however, makes clear that many involved were fueled by the vilest bigotry and hatred. We may wish that entities like the Klan and the Nazis were in the dustbin of history. Clearly, they are not.
What can we do at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School? The start of school is now just days away. Each year at this time my mind is on how we can become a stronger community. Our website and admissions materials lead with the phrase, "Become your best self." Striving to get to the depths of what it means to be the best community we can be means we must name and address hatred and injustice as they have no place here.
We have the lens provided by the Xaverian Brothers to help us see. Like the Brothers, our goal is for the Falcons of 2017-18 to mutually respect, help, encourage, and edify one another, and work together. That means being compassionate with one another in our difficulties, bearing with one another in our weaknesses, and affirming one another in our giftedness. Things that discourage us and try our patience will continue to happen beyond our walls. And they will sometimes happen here, too. It will require our founder's zeal to deliver on the promise of our new, Board-approved diversity statement and "identify and challenge all forms of prejudice, discrimination and injustice."
The essence of our mission as a Catholic school in the Xaverian tradition is to see each person as an expression of God's love: I give you a new commandment: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples (John 13:34-35).
I thank you for your support of the core values that have driven Good Counsel for almost sixty years. I look forward to all that we will accomplish together in the rapidly approaching school year.