Rev. Fr. Cyril Menezes, SJ
We are living in a competitive world. Even education seems to thrive on competition. The concept of competition is a destructive concept. Look at the world of business today. Listen to the common conversation among people and students. Who is the richest man in India or the world? Which is the best company that pays most? Which is the most profit making business or corporate sector? Competition looks at everyone else as an enemy to be defeated. Look at our elections – every party goes all out to DEFEAT the OTHER in order to WIN. Their joy is not so much in winning as in defeating the other. Most often moral values are sacrificed in this process of competition. In a competitive world, no success is success. Hence we compare. Parents compare their children with one another, their child’s progress with another child’s progress. This comparison quite often leads to depression and eventually self defeat. ‘Suicide accounts for the major ratio of deaths among the teenagers’ noted a social scientist. Competition leads to individualism which is a deadly virus in society. To counter this virus of individualism we need to foster a counter cultural value in our educational system – Cooperation as opposed to competition. The purpose of all education is precisely this value of cooperation. Our strength is in our TEAMWORK. Every student at St Joseph’s Indian High School and PU College needs to have a mindset “I AM A TEAM”. If all the students have this mindset, we will never feel alone, never feel let down, never feel depressed, will never be individualistic and never isolated. We do not work for our own selfishness and self interest.
We work for the common good. Jawaharlal Nehru wrote from prison: ‘Civilization is working for the common good and the best form of civilization is working together for the common good”. The staff and students at St Joseph’s Indian Institutions are driven by this vision of working for the common good of all. When all our stakeholders including the parents realize that we are a Team and not a mere collection of individuals, then we will feel strong mentally, emotionally and socially.
Naturally, we teach our children too to be strong by teaching them this value of “I AM A TEAM”. Concretely, in schools and colleges this is translated into creative friendships cutting across class, caste, gender, race, language, geographical origins etc. Allow your children to foster such friendships. It helps them to de-activate the virus of individualism. It enables them to learn from one another. It also helps them to care for one another. Eventually, we will have a group of students who become successful not as individuals but as a TEAM. Naturally, our children grow strong emotionally even in the face of a failure because they know that they are not alone, not mere individuals but a TEAM. They know that their friends, their parents, their teachers, their neighbours etc stand by them.
I want to see every student calm, confident, compassionate and committed to the common good without being unduly elated by success or deflated by defeat, but always remaining calm serene, sincere and steadfast because he knows that he is not alone, but a part of a TEAM. I thank all the parents, alumni and the public for supporting us in all our ventures. We know that you are with us. Your strength is our strength. Remember we are a TEAM, a strong team. You can create a society which cannot be diverted, divided and destroyed by any force. Let us work as a team not our own sake but for our children’s sake and for the future of our society, our country and the world at large.