I was put in Pembroke House.
I don’t remember why it was called that, only that we wore yellow badges and the other ‘houses’ were red, blue and green. The badge was a Bishop’s mitre, the school founded in 1596 by Archbishop of Canterbury, John Whitgift.
There’s something about the ‘house’ system.
The only ‘difference’ recognised between the boys was the badge they wore. There were pupils of different shapes, sizes, abilities and ethnic groups all randomly distributed between the houses.
We never noticed the colour of anyone’s skin, just the colour of their badge.
The ‘house’ bonded us, giving us an identity greater than anything else and it taught us that although we might ‘look’ different there were no real differences between us.
We weren’t kept apart, we made friends in other houses and enemies in our own, but this was about personalities because, lets face it, some personality types just don’t get on and others get on very well.
Although we were ‘sorted’ into houses the system allowed us to ‘sort ourselves out’ into affinity groups interested in different things with a myriad of cross-house ‘after school societies’
Taking away the superficial differences allows true individual expression – we make our selves different and unique.
But today people in general are over conscious of ‘difference’. They fear difference and don’t understand it.
In earlier times the next tribe along the valley seemed a threat who might ‘take our lands or our women’. They weren’t ‘us’, they were ‘different’.
(Back then we had different ideas and beliefs about gender – we may see them as ‘wrong’ now, but we didn’t then, and some people still hold those beliefs.)
There is though a need for difference, but not as understood now.
If we were all identical clones, life on Earth wouldn’t make sense
People cry out for ‘equality’ but what they really mean, is they want everyone else to be ‘the same’ – the same as them – because then they think they will be ‘safe’ from the effects of difference – the tribe down the valley – or different ‘levels of society’ they themselves have created.
We are different, and we are not different.
There is no elite or hierarchy other than what we imagine and choose, and people don’t really want ‘equality’ or uniformity – more like “everyone must be equal, except me” (or ‘us’)
We are all the same, whatever we look like, whatever we can do, whoever we are. We are undergoing different experiences travelling different paths and it isn’t possible for two people to be ‘the same’ – the Universe doesn’t allow for it.
The ethos of school was that everyone had equal opportunity to succeed. Not all at the same thing, but to succeed individually at whatever they were ‘good at’ or preferred doing
Some were good at sports, some academically, some preferred ‘the arts’, others ‘science’. We weren’t all expected to be the same, indeed that would never do. We were expected to leave the school as rounded individuals ready for our chosen next step, whatever that might be.
We played games, competition between the houses and between individuals.
Some people have lost the plot when it comes to competition forgetting it forms part of the life experience.
We are all competing, even if it’s just with ourselves – we strive to ‘do better’, ‘to be the best we can be’.
Competition with others is always a game, something we invented to make ourselves better, a better footballer, cricketer, athlete or racing driver. Yes, we compete with others in these games, but only to make ourselves better.
The ‘house system’ created artificial groups, not groups based on specific characteristics, race, gender, size, religion and so forth. And the ‘houses’ were ‘equal’ not tribal.
But in global culture there is still the fear of ‘the tribe down the valley coming to get us’ – and these ‘alien’ tribes get blamed for all the ills in each societal group.
When something goes wrong or doesn’t work, it’s all ‘their’ fault – or even their ancestors’ fault.
They are the cause of all our problems, it’s never our fault, never anything to do with the choices we made.
We are all ‘different’ and unique individuals, responsible for the choices we make.
We are all the same as people and we are all different as individuals, and that’s how it is supposed to be, that’s why we are here.
There is no difference and there is no wrong or right, only what society decides at the time and we cannot decide for the past or for the future.
Sadly, society seems to have lost the plot.