Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"If you have come here to help me...

you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together," said Lilla Watson—echoed, I believe, in the words of Dr. King and Fr. Kolvenbach.

This is an answer to the most basic question: How are we going to do this thing called "living"?

We are going to do it with the honesty, vulnerability and equality of human beings who have recognized the mutuality of their existence—the "single garment of destiny" (1)—the universal wound of injustice. No one is capable of truly shaking responsibility for the liberation of his/her fellow sisters and brothers, but more often than not, we certainly do a good job pretending we can.

As Dr. King said, "superficial social analysis" (1) is the kind in which you look at the effects without first examining the causes. You say "wait" because you have not felt the string of injustice, you have not taken up the cause of another because by chance you were not born into it as your own. Dr. King said, "freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed" (3), and I believe this is the theory Fr. Kolvenbach rallies predominantly against in his address at Santa Clara. 

According to the former Superior General of the Society of Jesus, those of the privileged class (including those who are able to afford a pricey Jesuit education) are innately responsible for responding to the needs of those whom they are privileged to interact with. Inequality is not inevitable; it is caused by humans and it must be eradicated by humans. Through our education, we are given the opportunity to see the "gritty reality" of the world, to reach deep into it and find ourselves reflected back in it. We don't engage in service to help people, we don't learn in order to better ourselves, we don't study to receive a diploma. That would be too simple, and that would devalue our mission as a Jesuit university. 

We serve because we need to be served—because we are broken, because we are threads in the garment, because none of us are outsiders, because we're tired of waiting. We learn because there is a reality that some find easy to ignore, and we need to know why; because "For whom?" and "For what?" are not always easy to answer, but if we can't answer them, we have no business putting our knowledge into action. To receive a Jesuit education is to incur responsibility for what we have seen and what has been revealed to us. To truly be who we are, there is no other way to do it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment