Don’t Laugh at Me

February 17, 2016

Dear Families and Friends,

I was inspired by today’s Chapel as the Intermediate Class delivered a living sermon of the Beatitudes from Matthew’s Gospel. Each student played a pivotal role in bringing this text to life through both word and song.

Frankly, I am in awe of the confidence that our students project when speaking in front of an audience. Public speaking is still considered one of the most unappealing activities; Trinity students challenge this view as they have numerous opportunities to present in front of an audience.

Toward the end of the service this morning, the students finished with a song called Don’t Laugh at Me which dovetailed perfectly in juxtaposition with the student rendering of the Beatitudes. Somewhat of a tradition at Trinity, Intermediate students learn this song at the end of a unit on compassion; in essence, the song conveys the importance of respecting others and not drawing attention to their imperfections with derogatory or cruel comments. It is a beautiful song in large measure because of its simple message – Christ’s message – to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to appreciate the differences that we all have.

How many of us have been laughed at, or made to feel inadequate by people in our lives? At the risk of trivializing the song’s message, I vividly remember a summer camp experience – one that has soured me to this day on sleep away camp – where one of my cabin mates thought it amusing to give me the nickname “fatty”.

The self-appointed ringleader among the boys in our cabin made my week at camp an unpleasant experience. To my horror, he found a way to insert my new nickname into all facets of camp life, one of them being the dining hall where the opportunity to connect food with one’s girth was too easy to pass up.

While this experience is rather minor in the grand scheme of life, part of becoming an adult involves learning to disregard other people’s unkind comments, I share this story with students because I want them to understand how a seemingly innocuous remark can stay with a person long after it is made. As Head of School, I have no tolerance for cruelty or meanness. We need to remind our children frequently that mocking or demeaning someone because of a difference they possess is wrong and unbecoming of a person of character.