by Martin Piper
I’ve just finished reading some notes from an alleged recording of the Vice-Principal of SJI in response to disinviting an educational speaker.
The speech (if the quotes are accurate) has a very worrying message, it appears to try to paint any activism as divisive and appears to cite the Bible or belief in Jesus in support of that. The problem with that thinking is that it is completely opposite to the ideals of teaching children to be leaders, who have the ability to think and challenge the status quo and produce good quality change. Really great leaders are ipso facto activists because really great leaders have a vision for change.
In a sense, volunteering in a soup kitchen and giving food donations to poor and needy people is social activism because such work seeks to be about social change by demonstrating leadership through compassion. So basically, if the quotes are accurate, he allegedly appears to be saying that volunteering and helping people is divisive, which would be an utterly wrong message to send to children.
Isn’t it divisive to actually want to exclude a certain type of person based on who they are? Isn’t it divisive to exclude people who talk about including others? If the topic of the planned talk was “helping racial harmony”, wouldn’t it be divisive to exclude that? The planned talk was effectively “helping orientation/identity harmony”, isn’t it still divisive to exclude that?
He seems to be unaware that anti-LGBT opinions exist because of religious activism, history is replete with examples. Actually trying to exclude LGBT people from society is itself divisive, it causes division. He allegedly seems to be assuming that an idea is correct just because he believes it exists and then apparently rejects even the possibility of change when better thinking is presented. The principal of reducing discrimination, be it against races or LGBT people, is a sound rational goal that introduces positive change. It is is better thinking.
He also seems to forget that Jesus was an activist, for example in Luke 14:12-14 when he said to invite the lame, poor and crippled this encouraged inclusion and was against the existing divisions in society regarding those types of people.
I think the Ministry of Education really needs to look at finding out the accuracy of those quotes. If they are accurate then I really do think the MOE need to think long and hard about the quality of leadership and education in schools. This is especially the case when someone in a position of power apparently seems to be making such poor logically inconsistent arguments to children.