This week marks three separate occasions that I believe embody what a King’s education is about. November is Men’s Mental Health Month, this week is World Kindness Week, and tomorrow is White Ribbon Day, a day devoted to raising awareness about curbing domestic violence towards women. I would like to speak about what these days mean and how they are all inextricably linked.
As a society, there is a rising misconception about what a man should look like. While often not implicitly said, it is assumed that we are tough, strong, and always okay, bottling our feelings up and not seeking help. I think at King’s, we should challenge this assumption. The stigma about men seeking help is simply untrue. We live in a society that challenges us, throwing constant ups and downs our way, and sometimes it can get to you, and that is okay. It is okay to feel sad. It is okay to cry and reach out for help.
In saying this, I encourage everyone to check in with their friends. Not just by asking if they are okay in passing, but genuinely caring and taking time to observe their behaviour. Look out for those small signs and reach out when you feel something may be wrong. The hardest part of this process is accepting help, and I want to emphasise that seeking help from friends, counsellors, parents, or teachers is not a sign of weakness. It is strong to admit we are not invincible.
We can help. We can help our friends from getting carried away with the adversities of life by being kind. Kindness to others is impactful and comes at zero cost to you. So why not be kind?
Kindness is not only needed at School – I hope every Kingsman understands this. Unfortunately, we often hear about men who are not kind. 80% of domestic violence perpetrators are men, and one in six women in Australia are impacted by domestic violence. These statistics are very real numbers and they affect very real people. Some of whom you may know. And the damage is devastating.
In talking about White Ribbon Day at King’s, let’s reinforce the kindness our community shows and fosters. This School provides us with the toolbox to be responsible and kind to all, to understand that violence is always a choice and that no matter what, violence is never necessary.
Some of the men in my family are Old Boys of The King’s School. When I look to them as role models, I see tough men who rise to the challenge but also sensitive men who are kind and compassionate, not only to their wives and children, but also to their friends.
I believe this empathy and kindness was built at The King’s School, in the boarding house, on the rugby field, and at Cadet Corps camp. Even though the world we live in and the School we go to today are very different, these core principles of compassion remain the same.
So, I encourage you all to be leaders in compassion and kindness. Demonstrate kindness in the domestic sphere outside of School, and to people around you and friends in need. Our world needs kindness, and you can be the change.
Charles Baker (‘24)
Executive Monitor (Community)