In Week 1 of this final term, as a marker of their school time winding up the Year 12 Leaders led Chapel for the rest of the School community. I was heartened by the words of this prayer that two of those leaders used:
Help us to be thankful for one another. We are made for goodness. We are made for love.
We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness.
We are thankful for this community in which we are able to come together. To be united with other people in friendship and happiness.
Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is a process; working together is success.
I was even further encouraged when I asked as to where the two involved had sourced this prayer to be told that they had created it.
There is a truth here that these students have identified and affirmed: people are, at heart, good and well-intentioned. This has been the subject of one of the best books of 2020, internationally bestselling author Rutger Bregman’s “Humankind: A Hopeful History”, in which Bregman refutes philosophical and everyday understandings of humans as by nature selfish and solely governed by self-interest. This, of course, is fed by sensationalised news services, ever keen to report ‘bad news'. Perhaps the Church has added to this with its emphasis upon the fallen side of our humanity through sin. To the contrary, Bregman finds boundless evidence of people being kind and giving, motivated by “the instinct to cooperate rather than compete, trust rather than distrust”, and argues that “believing in human kindness and altruism can be a new way to think and act as the foundation for achieving true change in our society”.
Or as our Westminster students Charlotte and Lekiah neatly expressed it, “we are made for goodness”.
Rev Phil Hoffmann