Head of School Blog

Serving Peace

Kū i ke ao

To stand in this world; to live in interdependence with all that surrounds us

It seems an appropriate time to remind us of this 'ōlelo noʻeau. As I pen this note in late March, people are being attacked on American streets because of their race/nationality, segments of our population are disengaging from discourse and choosing to hear only one voice in the marketplace of ideas, and tanks are forcibly violating the sovereign borders of a neighboring state. In a school that values "serving peace", my message, today, is that serving peace may sometimes mean subordinating one value, peace in this instance, in the interest of another, making the world a better place. 

The idea of "serving peace" runs deep in our being. The International Baccalaureate programme was founded in 1961 as an educational response to a world ravaged by war.  IBʻs mission calls on schools "to develop globally minded people, who recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world." But what happens when our lofty ideals are confronted by a very different set of values? What happens when "open-mindedness" encounters baleful dogmatism? What happens when "serving peace" runs into hate speech or naked aggression rooted in a wholly different paradigm? What happens when our "shared guardianship for the planet" comes up against a mindset of purely self-serving or predatory behavior? 

While most of our daily challenges can be solved through the application of our IB Learner Profile traits, informed by the values we hold dear as a school, my experience suggests that each of you will encounter a situation in life in which the attributes of an IB learner and values of our school-community no longer serve: situations in which "making the world a more peaceful place" are diminished by cutting remarks in the guise of humor, muted by strident and hate-filled speech, or flattened beneath the weight of an armored column. Even on our campus, a place normally filled with kindness we have had isolated incidents that include sexism, racism, anti-semitism or other "isms". On each occasion, we address the situation with those involved ensuring growth and restoration of the community affected.

It is my hope that as we have journeyed together this past year, you have found your footing on firmer ground on which "to stand in this world". While I wish that all of your interactions will be characterized by mutual respect and understanding, I also hope that should you encounter situations in which your values or aspirations conflict with others' that you will be equipped to stand, with due humility, and make choices that will bring forth justice and, indeed, make the world a better and more peaceful place.