The freedom to do good

Below is a message I shared with our boys at last Wednesday's Anzac Day assembly, and which I think is important for all of our community to hear.

I have told this assembly many times that one of the things that makes me sad is that general knowledge and history are no longer valued by young people as they used to be and as they should be. I love history, and I can tell you that history shows that most wars are the folly of man, for the ego of men and for reasons to do with money or power -- except one war.

In 1933 the Nazis took control of Germany and started to take control of Europe. By 1939 Europe was at war; by 1940 the British and the French had been defeated. There was a pact between the Russians and the Germans so the Nazis were free to do whatever they wanted. And there was a lone voice in Britain, Winston Churchill, who recognised what the Nazis were. They were bullies. As soon as they got to power, if you had an intellectual disability you were gassed. If you had a physical disability you were gassed. During the '30s they rounded up all their enemies, the socialists, the communists, and they were put in concentration camps. Eventually 20 years before I was born, in my parents' lifetime, the Nazis decided they would destroy every Jew in Europe. They systematically shot, gassed and incinerated up to 11 million people. Jews, Slavs, gypsies intelligentsia of any country that they conquered, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, Catholics, anyone they didn't like, anyone who was different. That was a war fought for a good reason. That was a war that stood up against bullies.

If you don't know about history then when you see Australian politicians talk about the final solution or go to rallies where people do the Nazi salute, you might not quite understand the seriousness of where this country is at the moment. That, once again, fear of being different is being used for political purposes. As the next generation, you are all leaders and you will help with your vote to guide this country. That's a few years away so in the interim, when you bully someone at this school you make those Anzacs who died for our freedoms turn in their grave. The freedoms they died for is not the freedom to do what you want. The Anzacs died so you can be free to do good, not free to do whatever you like. There is all this conversation about freedom of speech, but when you call someone or something 'gay', you are a bully. When you call someone or something a 'ranga', you are a bully. When you make fun of someone's skin colour or intelligence or size or shape, you are a bully. And when I hear that some of our most vulnerable boys – we have boys at our College who have autism and Tourette Syndrome and little things set them off – and I hear boys do those little things to be entertained, you are a bully.

I commit to every parent who enrols their son here that their son will be safe. So, if you want to bully people, one of us has to go. It is my dream to be the Principal of a school where there is no bullying. Your intent is not what bullying is about; it is your impact. What I say to you all the time is if you have nothing good to say then say nothing.

I know that when the boys in this school are confronted with their actions they are deeply repentant but it would be great if you could get ahead of the game. So you can do two things to respect the Anzacs and to respect their memory -- don't bully, and if you see bullying then stand up against it. Like Saad did last year; like Ben Lombardo did last year; they did us all proud. Make this a school where you would like to send your son. Where each one of you sticks up for each other, and especially for the boys who are different, because they are the boys who need you the most.

Gentlemen, we leave this assembly today with a thought. Every man and woman who has ever served this country to provide you with this wonderful life that you have, has done so to provide you with an opportunity to dedicate your life to others and to goodness.

Mr Domenic Burgio