From the Principal

Honest Abe

I’ve shared this story before. So, forgive me if you’ve read this but I think it has great merit.

Abraham Lincoln, the much celebrated American President, was one of the great men in History.

Before he became president, Lincoln spent twenty years as an unsuccessful Illinois lawyer – at least he was unsuccessful in financial terms. But when you measure the good he did, he was very rich indeed. Legends are often untrue, but Lincoln was the real thing. During his years as a lawyer, there were hundreds of documented examples of his honesty and decency.

For example, Lincoln didn’t like to charge people much who were as poor as he was. Once a man sent him twenty-five dollars, but Lincoln sent him back ten of it, saying he was being too generous.

He and his associate once prevented a con man from gaining possession of a tract of land owned by a mentally ill girl. The case took fifteen minutes. Lincoln’s associate came to divide up their fee, but Lincoln reprimanded him. His associate argued that the girl’s brother had agreed on the fee ahead of time, and he was completely satisfied.

“That may be,” said Lincoln, “but I am not satisfied. That money comes out of the pocket of a poor, girl; and I would rather starve than swindle her in this manner. You return half the money at least, or I’ll not take a cent of it as my share.” He was a fool, perhaps, by certain standards. But he was a good human being by anyone’s standards.

Of course as human beings we can be prone to the evils of dishonesty, untruths, misguided comments, even gossip!  The unfortunate result of these can be demeaning, degrading, and hurtful. Not based on facts, but misinformation, interpretations and perceptions. Unless one actually witnesses an event, hear-say doesn’t make it the truth. Fortunately we have a school whose principles, beliefs and ethos are based, among other things, on the notions of trust and honesty.

Honesty makes us feel good about ourselves and creates trust in others. It even improves our relationships. It seems not much in fashion these days to talk about the benefits of such but the benefits are undeniably there and they are valuable and worth the trouble. I see it daily in our students, teachers and parents!

Honesty – it may be corny, but it’s the finest force for good in the world, and it always will be! It worked for Abraham Lincoln.

Life is always full of questions. Some of these are more technical, such as “how does an aeroplane fly?” Or, “how do you bake a chocolate cake?” Other questions help making meaning of things in our lives, such as “why should I learn Mathematics?” or, “what will I do when I grow up (or get older!)?

Still other questions are about life itself, such as, “Does God exist?” or “What is the purpose of my life?”  “How am I meant to live my life?” Whether we always are aware of it or not, questioning forms the basis of so much in our lives, and it is a natural way that we learn new things, whether we are young or old.  One can argue that a meaningful life must be a questioning life. Mrs Bakker, Director of Learning and Teaching, has over time, shared information about the school’s adoption of Inquiry-Based Learning, where students are encouraged to ask questions which help guide their learning in class.

Questions to God in prayer, or desperate pleas to a God, or more rhetorical questions such as, “Why does God sometimes let bad things happen to good people?” are also part of our questioning lives. The role of the teacher in Inquiry-Based Learning is to empower and enable students to find answers to their educational questions. Similarly, the role of the Bible (God’s message to humanity) is His way of empowering us to find answers to the big questions of life, if we are able to bring an open and humble mind to the task.

Perhaps the most famous questioning book in the Bible is that of Job, who was tested by God almost to the end of his endurance. Job questioned whether God’s actions were fair and God answered Job’s questions by revealing his constant presence. He encouraged Job to constantly trust His goodness and love towards him, even when it logically seemed that life was unfair. God’s answer, although indirect, gave Job hope for the future and a purpose to living. Despite being challenged, his questioning life was blessed in the end.

God invites us to ask Him the hard questions about life, and to honestly seek his answer. Many such questions have their answer in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, who more fully reveals God’s plan for mankind and his great goodness and grace.

We are invited to listen with hearts that will be opened by hearing of his love in Jesus, which is what we strive for each day here at St Johns.

Thank you for working in partnership with us.

Grace and Peace

Chris Mallett