Words from the EREA Director to our Young People
Dear St Edmund’s College Family and Friends,
In his closing address at last week’s EREA Congress, the Executive Director of Edmund Rice Education Australia, Dr Wayne Tinsey, concluding his speech with some words of advice to our young people...
‘And so what advice can we offer the young to help them on this journey to liberation?
Reject versions of the world that define success solely in terms of money, accumulation of things and overemphasis on status and security. Resist shallow definitions of what constitutes a worthwhile and valuable life. Remember the wise words of the comedienne Lily Tomlin who once said: The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat!
Be happy but know that lasting happiness is always closer to contentment and inner peace than it is to sensual pleasure, which can be fleeting and unsustainable; know that true happiness abides in an open and compassionate heart.
Learn from Senator John McCain, who in his last letter shortly before he died last week, reminded us that: To be connected to liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people, brings happiness more sublime than life’s fleeting pleasures. Our identities and sense of worth are enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.
Enjoy your precious life but avoid a sense of entitlement. Remember that the hardest arithmetic that we will ever be called to master is that which enables us to count our blessings. The future of our world is dependent upon you thinking more of the common good than your own self-advancement.
In a world that can be toxic to self-directed thinking, follow your inner guide and advance confidently in the direction of your dreams. Resist being pushed around by peer pressure, from prejudices and delusions and from potential nonsense that can masquerade as truth. Never measure your worth by how much you accumulate, how much you consume and be free from shallow ambitions. Look at society through the prism of your values and insist that it lives up to its highest ideals.
You are privileged to have the opportunity for education; so study hard and always do your best. Yes, aim high but know that the results you receive at the end of the year do not define or limit you. Your true vocation in life is too sacred to be determined by exam results or tertiary entrance ranking.
Be of good character; strong in your convictions, based on the very best wisdom of the ages. Know that you need not be perfect and that our shared human condition gives us this concession. Commit to authenticity and a passion for self-realisation. Learn from your mistakes and grow through your failures. Not perfect, but authentic; consistent with your inner moral compass.
Understand that a truly meaningful life is made up of a series of daily acts of decency and kindness, which, ironically, add up to something truly great over the course of a lifetime. As Patrick Dodson so beautifully articulated, It is only through our common decency that we can experience peace and harmony within ourselves.
Be resilient and never give up on the truly important things. It can be a bleak world if one is subjected to incessant, unfiltered media and is focused on keeping up with others. In a world awash with constant chatter and endless facts of dubious ultimate importance, strive to identify what is of lasting importance. Discover presence and stillness in your life. Take the time to know silence. Much of the world has a vested interest in keeping us restless, craving for more, and unknowing of when enough is enough.
Accept our Gospel’s claims about the way in which human beings should engage in our world, about justice, about the way in which we are expected to relate to one another and about the dignity of every human life. Know that in the end, it is not what we have done in our lives that is of ultimate importance. Rather, it is whether or not anything we did was worth doing. Has it made a positive difference in the lives of others? Has it contributed to the stock of the world’s good?
Remember the words of President Woodrow Wilson: You are not here to merely make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.’
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Loving God, we pray for those who are confronted by the sadness, ambiguity and confusion of mental illness, and for those upon whom they depend for attention and compassionate care. Look with mercy on all whose afflictions bring them weakness, distress, confusion or isolation. Provide for them homes of dignity and peace; give to them understanding helpers and the willingness to accept help. Remind us to rethink the stigma associated with mental illness. May You guide us as we open our eyes and hearts to those around us as we strive to be a truly inclusive community.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Live Jesus, in our hearts, forever.
Diarmuid O’Riordan, Principal