Growing up, I learned the meaning of the pidgin-style saying, “Monkey see, monkey do.” Adults would use that saying to explain how children would mimic the behaviors of others without fully understanding the behavior or possible consequences of that behavior.
Fast-forwarding to 2023, it seems like “Monkey see, monkey do” can still be used to characterize behaviors in our society that have been engulfed by technological advances, political tribalism, an I-centered focus, or the need for negative attention. A simple text message, social media post, ill choice of words, or unwillingness to comprise becomes the vehicle to further strain relationships or cause a flight or fight mentality.
Unfortunately, our children observe the words and actions of the adults around them and the whole “Monkey see, monkey do” circle continues. Children see the cruelness of others and how inflicted pain is celebrated by secular culture. Our children are absorbing these observations faster than previous generations and it calluses the hearts, lips, and minds of these impressionable and delicate gifts from God.
Imagine, for a moment, what our world would be like if our children could only witness the good that exists in our world. This “Monkey see, monkey do” mindset would have a drastic and influential impact on how children think, speak, and interact with others.
In the Gospel of St. John, we hear very clear instructions from Jesus. Jesus says, “This I command you: love your neighbor.” He doesn’t say I invite you to think about it. He doesn’t say maybe. He doesn’t say only the neighbors you like. He says, “Love your neighbor.”
As our Church has explained, “The Catholic school loses its purpose without constant reference to the Gospel and a frequent encounter with Christ.” As a Catholic School, we not only have the duty, but the responsibility to change the “Monkey see, monkey do” mentality to one where our community becomes inspired to love our neighbors fulfilling God’s sacred commandment.
Understanding this special responsibility, I have selected With Every Act of Love as our school’s spiritual theme for the 2023/2024 school year. While we may not change the culture outside of our faith community, we are charged by the Gospel to work towards fostering a Catholic school environment rooted in love. My prayer is that our students and community members using the “Monkey see, monkey do” mentality will then begin to slowly chip away at the ugly walls that have been created in our society.
I look forward to sharing with you in August how this paradigm shift will affect our school’s spiritual formation, academic programs, classroom management plans, disciplinary procedures, extracurricular activities, and community activities!
As we continue with our summer break, it is my prayer that you experience God’s grace and grow closer to the Blessed Sacrament With Every Act of Love!
In service to the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament,