Reflection from Headmaster Matthew Hutchison

I must say I was taken by surprise when the Prime Minister, in an effort to promote economic recovery, spoke last month about the ‘Australian Dream’ being a new carport and a renovated bathroom.

I understand the context of this statement and by no means do I wish to make any political statement particularly in these challenging times. I simply want to broaden and reimagine our concept of the Australian Dream beyond self, beyond a culture enthralled by money, convenience, comfort and where everything seems to be a commodity.  

It is easy to get lost in words, but perhaps the Australian Dream could be marked as a life characterised by generosity, a moral life, a life valuable for its impact on others, a life devoted to the common good. This type of life is measured by a courteous respect for the rights of others, a responsiveness to needs and a concern for the wellbeing of others. A person living this life will be motivated by kindness and compassion and, I would argue, is living a better Australian Dream. 

One of the challenges of working in Catholic schools is to open the eyes of our boys to an even broader understanding of the Australian Dream. We do this by teaching Gospel values and ensuring Jesus is known and loved. This however is not acquired by simply breathing in and out. It is the outcome of experiences, of reflection, of balanced input, and of significant modelling. It has something to do with expanding the mind’s horizons and stirring the heart’s emotions. Fr Adolfo Nicolas SJ, the former Father-General of the Jesuit order, said the major challenge facing western society was 'the globalisation of superficiality'. In a world of mass and instant communication and multiple distractions, he argued it is possible to never go beneath the surface, to never go in to those deeper places where our humanity registers.

So, it is for the school to create windows onto the world, to allow the boys to really see, to know and to respond to it. If we want our Marist graduates to contribute to a broader version of the Australian Dream we must continue to educate for choice, educate for depth and educate for heart.  

Matthew Hutchison