Standing with Pittsburgh: Norfolk Academy

by | Nov 5, 2018 | Other News

On Monday morning, October 29, Norfolk Academy Headmaster Dennis Manning spoke to Upper School students and faculty about the necessity to respond to evil by “exercising moral agency” in the world. An excerpt:

We have a local, regional, and school  history, all of which is intertwined with the historic Jewish community here in Tidewater. That history’s progenitor, Moses Myers, settled here in 1787 and began leading a Jewish settlement and community in Norfolk. In fact, Moses Myers’ children attended Norfolk Academy—as did his descendants.… So whether you are aware of it or not, you are connected to a Jewish heritage and history—a feature of our school history of which we should all be aware and of which we should be proud….

You are part of a community here whose every action militates against the kind of inhumanity and savagery we witnessed in Pittsburgh. The monster who perpetrated this act I liken to Grendel in
Beowulf—a monster who lives outside the bounds of human community and fellowship, who embodies evil. Those who believe in love and understanding absolutely  must speak up and act in ways that counter the violence  and the hate. Words matter. Words can have agency and action, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

One final request of you, harkening back to the lesson from Genesis that the Tree of Life congregants were studying— the importance of embracing strangers.… Before the end of the day, I’d like for you
to reach out—to speak to and engage with—a fellow student you either don’t know or don’t know very well—and just share: “I don’t know you, but I’m here for you and with you—and I care about you.”
It might be hard, it might be awkward, but that’s how we share in and reinforce our common humanity, and in so doing, fashion or create an antidote to hatred and to violence.