Our School Creed encourages us to learn about God, Man the Universe, and our relationship to them . Last week I discussed the first of these, God. Now it is Man’s turn.
Man of course means all of humanity men, women, boys and girls. And the question here is, apart from biology and physiology and genetics, what is it which makes us human? What is a human being? What makes a human being unique? As Psalm 8 asks: What is man that thou art mindful of him?
Is it the power of reason, humour, enthusiasm, an opposable thumb, magnanimity, an upright spine, marriage, creativity and innovation, a capacity for self-sacrificial love, a sense of the divine, the ability to delay our gratification? All of the above?
Terry Pratchett tells us that man lives where the falling angel meets the rising ape , indicating that we have characteristics of both, and the potential to move in either direction. To save us, and those around us, from beastly behaviour we are given simple rules and ethical and moral standards. Following these love thy neighbor, live honestly, treat others with care and respect we can manifest the better angels of our nature (Abraham Lincoln).
At John Colet School we endeavour to present the children with a large view of their own humanity and instil a sense of gratitude for the gifts inherent in human nature. We also try to communicate a sense of responsibility to others, which finds expression in the school values, particularly Care, Service and Respect.