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Strength of the Week – Honesty

Honesty. Billy Joel sang a popular song about it, telling the story of a young man who craved the truth in his relationships. Who would find it easy to live peacefully if we could not trust those around us?

While honesty is about speaking the truth, more broadly it means conducting ourselves with integrity; being true to our values across life’s various domains and taking responsibility for our actions. Sometimes we make mistakes, and owning them with honesty can be a great teacher. At St Michael’s these values encapsulate Community, Challenge and Choice, and making choices that reflect the values of the Lasallian ethos. It goes without saying that when we try to respond with honesty and integrity, this influences our relationships and our state of wellbeing in a positive direction.

Sometimes we can find honesty hard in challenging situations. We’re not alone here; even the apostles found honesty tricky as we know that when Jesus was on trial for his life, his friend Peter denied knowing him, more than once, despite previously indicating he would never do this. “I don’t know him, I never knew him, I never saw him before.”

In my Year 9 Religion class last year we were discussing conscience and decision making- a light topic of conversation! As it was a Religion Class with Italian language and culture content, we had been reflecting on Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio– the Disney version, and the messaging and symbolism of the story. I wondered as I sat preparing this curriculum, of an evening in my family room at home, why Collodi chose to represent Pinocchio’s conscience as a cricket, and as I sat reflecting, noticed the loud and constant chirping of the crickets outside. I don’t always hear them- or perhaps I don’t always listen for them!

Pinocchio, as we know, had some trouble navigating temptation. He often ignored the prickling of his conscience in the form of Jiminy Cricket and when he didn’t listen to the advice (or hear it), things didn’t end well. Luckily there was always hope to repair the mishap that followed, and in the Disney version of this tale, it ends well when Pinocchio lives to his values and shows integrity.

Last week Year 8 students attended a presentation by the Butterfly Foundation which spoke about Body Image Ideals and how misleading social media and media can be, and how damaging. Students were encouraged to be critical thinkers and viewers, to consider the honesty of the media influences in their lives and to follow ‘influencers’ who were truthful and who aligned to their personal values, and who did not encourage unhealthy and damaging comparison.

How can we encourage honesty in our children? Available literature indicates, amongst other advice that like most aspects of parenting, role modelling is important, perhaps even discussing the ‘white lies’ we might tell to protect their childhood at a stage when they are not quite old enough to understand. Celebrating honesty in difficult situations is also a plus, even when it may not be what we want to hear. The way we respond to the honesty of our children can highlight that honesty nurtures trust; an important feature of all meaningful relationships.

Honesty allows us to be at peace with ourselves, and this is so important to our wellbeing and to our relationships with other people. When we are honest in our actions this also have a positive knock-on effect on our community and world around us. It can help us to know, value and care for each other, as our Vision and Mission at St Michael’s would suggest.

Have a great weekend and Week 3 ahead!

Tonia Carfora, Year 7-9 Wellbeing Initiatives Leader