“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke

These words have resounding relevance once again in our society, as we all have to reassess our position regarding the recent racist, prejudice and violent events we have seen on the news. Sadly, the murder of a black man, by a white man is once again a global narrative and has refuelled and justified the drive of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, as it calls for equality louder than ever, as the whole world reacts to the murder of George Floyd, by a white policeman.

We at St Michaels, have a responsibility to reassess and make clear our position in response, not only to the murder of one black man, but the continuous acts of inequality around the world by races who believe they are superior to another. We have taken stock, and continue to stand fervently against racism, against prejudice and against violence.

Equality, respect, compassion, courtesy and inclusivity are not just words. These are values that we foster and encourage at our school, but like Edmund Burke so aptly said over 200 years ago, we cannot just act on these values when we are directly affected by threats to our worth, we need to support and protect those around us whose lives are affected. We must never allow our children, who are undeniably privileged and mostly white, to become desensitised or look the other way when witnessing racism or oppressive behaviour inflicted on a fellow human being.

It is very easy to say the words, “I am not racist, I support the beliefs of ‘Black lives matter’, or “what happened to George Floyd was wrong”. The real test of compassion and tolerance, will be seen in our actions. Will we still stand up against evil when its uncomfortable, makes us unpopular or others awkward? Will we speak up when bigotry and unkindness appears in the guise of religious belief or political leadership?  will we be proactive in staking our claim in this world as good people? Will we be brave enough to stand up and be counted when it really matters, even if the reward is ‘only’ knowing we did not shy away from standing against evil?

These are questions we must ask ourselves to ensure that we are empathetic participants and do not become sympathetic observers, when parts of our humanity are being hurt, ostracised or discriminated against just for being….‘different’.