Deputy Head’s View – 26 June 2020

Twenty years ago this week, the Human Genome Project was unveiled. I remember being as bowled over by it as Messrs Blair and Clinton, who compared it to Galileo’s discovery that the sun was the centre of our universe. It broke a new scientific frontier. Everyone of us carries approximately two meters of DNA in each of our cells. That two metres of DNA consists of twenty-three pairs of chromosomes made up of three billion nucleotides. The human genome project aimed to read them all. It took seven years to complete, had a budget of $3billion and hundreds of scientists from across the globe worked on it. It was an amazing feat: started with the aim of ridding the world of the suffering caused by disease.

When terrible things happen, it can drive us to fear – fear that it will happen again; fear for the safety of our loved ones; fear that the world is a dreadful place. Last Saturday, a terrible incident happened in Forbury Gardens, which left us bereft of words to explain and express. And a horrible feeling that even in friendly, diverse Reading, we are not necessarily safe.

Theologically, the opposite of fear is love. In our Senior School assembly this week, we reflected on the following words of Martin Luther King:

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Two opposites of human activity – creativity and scientific discovery for good, or wanton destruction of life for ill. As we remember those whose lives were cut short because of the latter, all those affected by this event, we know that the only way to ensure that there is an increase of good and a diminishing of its opposite, is to be a beacon of light ourselves.

With best wishes,

Allison Hadwin – Deputy Head (Chaplain & Pastoral)