The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

Remember, it is not the critic who counts! 

Recently I spoke to the Senior School about the need for optimism and the value in having people to admire. In the current uncertainty, this is as important as ever. My speech was in response to me asking a group of senior students who they admired in the business and political spheres. Their response shocked me - no one. When I suggested some  names  they dismissed them with ease. "He's a cheat, she is just seeking tax breaks, he is fake, and perhaps worst of all - who is that?" I was saddened to hear these responses. 

It is easy to be  pessimistic  about the way things are and will be in the future. Our television screens are full of pictures of trauma, suffering and heartache and our news feeds articulate corruption, dishonesty and treachery. These news and current affairs cycles look  pretty bad  and we have every right to be concerned about them.  Sadly  and worryingly, these pictures and facts can lead to anxiety, depression and poor mental health in people of all ages. The fact that the, "good news about bad news is, it sells" means that front pages will continue to be plastered with tragedy over happiness and evil over integrity.  With this in mind, and with the smoke of the bushfires barely passed and a pandemic increasingly impacting our loved ones, I want to draw your attention to the fact that there is much good in the world and plenty of reason for optimism.

Polio is a debilitating and deadly infectious disease which at its worst, invades  peoples  brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis. Many people will remember the days when polio was prevalent in Australia and it was every parent's nightmare. When the Queen visited Australia in the  1950s  she didn't shake hands with people because we were in the midst of a polio epidemic. Fortunately, as you can see in the graph, Australia has essentially been polio free since the 1980s. While sadly paralysis polio numbers slightly rose in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2019, at this stage these are the only two countries where polio is present. A remarkable fact. 

nearly-there.jpg    polio-in-australia.jpg

This incredible medical achievement is in large part due to the Rotary organisation who in the 1980s made a commitment to ending Polio. This has been done with significant support from Bill Gates and other philanthropists, such as Western Australia's own Andrew Forrest. 

One of the greatest medical achievements ever - the eradication of polio - is playing out right now and has been driven by great humans of great character. Humans to admire and a reason for optimism. 

Another great reason for optimism is the annual World's Greatest Shave in support of  The Leukaemia Foundation. Unlike polio, cases of Blood Cancer are on the rise and in Australia it is now at more than 15,000 new cases per year or about 44 a day. But it has also brought out the best in people. In the last 22 years, the organisation has raised huge money and saved countless lives. They now have the ambition of 'Zero Lives Lost to Blood Cancer by 2035'. So while it may not be eradicated, successful treatment might be possible. This is a bold ambition but as they say, dare mighty things. Scotch is a big supporter of this ambition and over the years has raised significant funds. It is a great cause - well run and with a set goal. I encourage all of you to get behind it this year and support the Year 12s who will be shaving their heads on 30 March. 

So, what's my point? It is rare that terrorists are truly freedom fighters and sometimes the  honourable  behave quite dishonourably but do not succumb to the darkness of cynicism. Celebrate the mighty achievement of completing the Bib Track, get involved in We Will Rock You, swim and run your hardest, head down to All Abilities Cricket or Disabled Surfing, smile and the world will smile with you and reach out the hand of kindness.