There is a cup of hot chocolate on my desk as I sit down to write this month’s thoughts.
This is the time of the year when we enjoy the holiday season and start thinking of the New Year. It also seems to be a time to contemplate the fact that we are getting older.
I want to acknowledge that occasionally I reveal that I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, young. Age and ageing are things that we all have to deal with. But one thing that does not have to age is the deterioration of ideals and ethical passions. When you lose your sense of what is right and wrong – when you lose your passion to maintain your integrity – then you have aged, and that applies no matter how many chronological years have passed since you were born.
We have a cute 6th grader who is temporarily in a wheelchair. As she is pushed down the hallway (sometimes by the Dean of the Lower School, Ms Perley) it is noticeable how considerate the other students are as they smile at her or ask her how she is doing. Those moments, when you see students display empathetic warmth, continue to give me pleasure and energy, and also pride in our student body
If the above thoughts and feelings seem heavily reliant on ethics, then I merely ask that you remember that Ethics is the subject I teach to the 12th Grade. Our present senior class is an outstanding group of ethical and kind, young people. I have actually told them this. Ask them! They are a delight to teach, they are a community among themselves. They are never unkind, and they are always supportive of each other.
I write these “thoughts” for them, although probably very few if any of them, delightful as the class is, will read these musings. That is their privilege, and I do not require them to read what I write. I just hope that if they read this, (“hope springs…” and all that.) they will realize that they have already given me enormous pleasure and pride in the way they act. They have never lacked respect for each other or for me, and they couple that courtesy with humor. I feel younger after a class with them. Who could ask more of one’s students?
So, since this is the time of the year when we start thinking of resolutions and wishes, I wish for all of our students that they stay forever young in their ideals, forever young in their humor, and forever young in their joy of community. Certainly somewhat different from the ending of Dr. Ruth’s speech at one of our graduation exercises when she closed her speech to the graduating class with the words; “I wish for you great sex!” At that point I realized how youthful her heart was and how irrelevant chronological years are.
Now that I have written this, I think I will have that cup of hot chocolate and take a nap.
Ronald P. Stewart.