Wednesday, September 25, 2013

King and Kolvenbach -- The Need for Solidarity

King’s and Kolvenbach’s articles both depict the evolution of justice.  Both articles are published during a time of change: King’s letter is published during the heart of the civil rights movement in the early 1960s while Kolvenbach’s address is given at the beginning of the new millennium.  While King’s open letter argues that people have a moral responsibility to break unjust laws, Kolvenbach’s address at Santa Clara University calls for a commitment to justice in Jesuit higher education.  Kolvenbach states that if students learn about and see the reality of injustice firsthand, they will be better equipped to fight against injustice in the future.
Both men attempt to give voices to the oppressed.  While King works on breaking down the walls of racism, Kolvenbach emphasizes the need for students to possess “a well-educated solidarity” with the world.  In his address, Kolvenbach quotes Father Ignacio Ellacuria: “…the university should be present intellectually where it is needed: to provide science for those who have no science; to provide skills for the unskilled; to be a voice for those who do not possess the academic qualifications to promote and legitimate their rights” (30).  Kolvenbach continues to say “…they all aspire to live life, to use their talents, to support their families and to care for their children and elders, to enjoy peace and security, and to make tomorrow better” (32).  Intellectual inquiry and moral reflection are the results of solidarity after personal involvement with the innocent suffering and injustice of others.  Kolvenbach emphasizes the importance of formation, learning, research, and teaching for students to build solidarity and that every Jesuit university “ called to live in a social reality…and to live for that social reality, to shed university intelligence upon it and to use university influence to transform it” (40).  Kolvenbach believes that these are the necessary steps to create well-rounded individuals.
Both King and Kolvenbach emphasize the need for solidarity to bring about change.  Kolvenbach stresses the importance of education, not only for the oppressed, but for everyone, to bring a general understanding of reality to all people.  Through a commitment to justice in Jesuit higher education,  Kolvenbach believes that a well-educated solidarity can be achieved, it is now our duty to work towards achieving it.

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