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Moral Mandate

I have never claimed to be an academic – I can’t even turn on those new fangled calculators! However, Ms Little will tell you there are different kinds of intelligence. For example some, like Mr Quinn, are gifted mathematically like an Albert Einstein. Some like Mr Toon are gifted with emotional intelligence like a Dr Phil. Some like Mr McConnell posses a practical intelligence and can fix or build something without thinking twice like a Scotty Cam on The Block. Then there are those with aesthetic intelligence who never cease to amaze – artists like Ms Willoughby or musicians like Mr Bolt.

Despite this, what is the rarest but most important intelligence? Moral intelligence! Sometimes it is referred to as wisdom or depth of character. It is a certain reverence of those fundamental values that hold the fragility of life together. Moral intelligence is that intuition that grasps the things we have do, and not just the things we like to do. When we read or listen to the media and political and sporting scandals it is easy to think that moral intelligence is one of the rarest elements of this earth! But how do we attain it? You don’t have to undertake an epic quest like Frodo and his ring (although most people behave like it is). It is more than a natural endowment, a grace given by God as a gift to the world. No. Most importantly it is attained through suffering and humiliation! If we think about it our successes or achievements more often than not bring us glory, not depth of character. If we are honest, we will have to admit that the very things we are ashamed to talk about, namely, our inferiorities – being bullied, our physical inadequacy, our parents’ fragility, our failed relationships, our failure to achieve dreams and the many other wounds and bruises have actually helped shape our moral intelligence.

We have two kinds of morality side by side: one which we preach but do not practice and another which we practice but seldom preach.’ Bertrand Russell.

There is a wonderful analogy that has been credited to an American psychologist named James Hillman who claims that our scars are like huge stones in a riverbed; they may do nothing but stay still and hold their ground, but the river has to take them into account and alter its flow because of them and it’s precisely this which gives a river (and a morality) some character. The reality is our own crosses and humiliations can and must do that for us and our world!

Conor Finn, Dean of Formation