Acceptance of others and tolerance as focus with Harmony Day;
Inclusive Community and recognising diversity
“How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!” Psalms 133:1
To the students, teachers, and members of the St Edmund’s community,
Happy Harmony week!
This week we celebrate and embrace Australian multiculturism, based on all the wonderful people of our community. Harmony Day officially being celebrated on 21 March each year is about inclusiveness, respect and belonging for all Australians, from the Traditional Owners of the land to our most recent arrivals regardless of cultural or linguistic background, united by a set of core Australian values of freedom, respect, fairness, democracy, and equal opportunity.
All the different cultures that come together in Australia bring many things with them: different foods, ways of dressing, languages, customs, and beliefs. Harmony Day is about celebrating these differences, embracing new cultures, and making sure that everybody is included in society, as well as celebrated for their uniqueness.
This day coincides with the United Nation’s International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination. On that day in 1960, police in South Africa opened fire on black protesters, killing 69 people and injuring hundreds. Since then, the UN has been using the day to facilitate discussion and act against racism and racial discrimination. It is important to know that even with events like these put in place, people from minority groups are still facing racial discrimination, still being stereotyped, and bullied.
Unless we seriously work towards eliminating racism and its harmful impacts on people, a celebration of cultural diversity on this day seems rather hollow.
As a school, St Edmund’s College plays its part in building relationships and communities that value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, migrants, histories, cultures, and futures. Particularly, my family and I were honoured earlier this year that I was able to wear my Tongan cultural attire to receive my stole and badge at this year’s opening College Mass. My aunties were also very grateful that Hamish Chapman and Damian Jelfs-Smith accepted and wore proudly the floral leis that they had made to congratulate them on their captaincy.
I like to think of Harmony at St Edmund’s as a band. In a band, there are different instruments that play different notes. When individually played, yes, you hear a constant sound that is in tune but not quite right. Though, even in sound difference. When the instruments are played together and in unison, a beautiful sound is made. In our classrooms, out on the field and in the community, I encourage my brothers to have positive conversations with their friends and be accepting and inclusive of others that you might find have different interests and beliefs to you.
I ask my fellow brothers and wider St Edmund’s community as we continue to celebrate ‘Harmony week’ not only today but years to come, may we continue to have humility in our hearts. We cannot understand the loss, terror and pain people have lived in their journey/s with their loved ones to get to Australia. Humility reminds us that we are creatures before God and equality before others. Humility teaches us and helps us accept personal limitations and situations that opens our hearts and minds to learn from others. We are Edmund Rice people – like Edmund Rice, we stand for others in a strong and practical manner. Through these actions we can look at ourselves through God’s eyes and accept what we see.
Our Touchstones, our college prayer and even our college song talks about who we are – so let us be the best Edmund Rice people we can be by supporting the goals of Harmony Week with the ultimate goal of ‘Everyone Belongs’.
Vice Captain -Service