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  • Sarah Raad

Competition

The Communion of Saints work for our salvation…

Mural of Revelation

These days, most of my students hear about me through word-of-mouth referrals. This is wonderful for me because I have worked very hard to get myself to a position where people can see the value of what we can do and how we can help them to achieve their best results. This is no easy thing to do in an industry that is plagued with poor ethical practices often associated with plagiarism and cheating…


Because of the commonality of the referrals that we receive, we often teach multiple children who attend the same school and are in the same class. This is not a problem for us, because we invest significant resources to ensure that each student can take on the right work at the right pace and to the right standard – without any plagiarism between one student and another or between the tutor and student.


Often, when children get into senior school, things can become quite competitive! After all, children (and their parents) seem to battle it out for top marks in the HSC and as each child tries to achieve their very best result and secure their preferred place in their university course of choice, while also trying to secure a place at university. Those last two years of school are – for most children – a very stressful and competitive event.

But though those years are competitive, they do not need to be so stressful…

I am not against a little healthy competition in study because healthy competition means that students can push themselves to do their personal best by trying to build up strengths in themselves that they see in their peers! Where competition is healthy, students work together to study and learn. They share ideas and information and are open with the strategies that they have. In fact, where there is no healthy competition among students, the cohort’s performance tends to be very mediocre and the students’ experience of the HSC tends to be unhealthy and stressful unhealthy stress that can result for some children in very significant mental health problems.


However, I compare this healthy competition with unhealthy competition. Unhealthy competition is where students want to secure the highest mark through the downfall of their peers. In unhealthy competition, people feed on each other’s weaknesses and exploit them. When one student understands a concept, they guard their knowledge from their peers and prevent their peers from understanding that same concept too – instead of sharing their knowledge. That helps nobody…


We need competition to be healthy and encouraging if we want everyone to do well. If we spend our time tearing each other down, rather than building each other up, we will soon be all torn down. But, if we compete with each other in a healthy manner, appreciating the strengths of our peers and if we work hard to try to build up the same strengths in ourselves, then that makes us stronger – not weaker – and we all do better.

It is a sort of paradox – and one that I have reflected on much of late. For I see these two types of competition – healthy and unhealthy – as metaphors for Heaven and Hell.

In Heaven – the Communion of Saints – support those of us on Earth to grow in virtue and be pleasing to God and they support those in Purgatory by praying for their salvation – just as there is support with healthy competition. And so… We have our guardian angels to guide us. We have the Saints in Heaven who pray for us. We have the Holy Souls in Purgatory who pray for us – though they cannot pray for themselves. We even have the people with whom we associate, and if we behave in a virtuous way, we can work together to build each other up in virtue, rather than down in disgrace.


In Hell – we are alone. Each soul suffers an agony of torment and the torment is enjoyed by the Evil One and his minions. In Hell, it is each soul for themselves – just as it is with unhealthy competition – in Hell there is such isolation as we could never imagine.


Here on Earth, perhaps we disregard Hell and eternal damnation so much because we do not understand what it truly could possibly be to be without God. Perhaps we disregard Hell because having God everywhere around us – even when we fail to acknowledge Him – we cannot fathom the depths of despair that a loss of connection from God could cause. After all, we were created to be with God. There is nothing natural about damnation – it goes against God’s plan… It makes sense that such an unnatural fate would cause grief and despair and neglect!


And so, as I work with the students who come in for lessons each year, I keep my eyes fixed on Heaven – for that is how we should approach everything in life – with healthy competition, encouraging each other along the way…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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