Peace Is Where the Heart Is
In Peter-Hans Kolvenbach’s essay, The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education, Kolvenbach explains that, “We can no longer pretend that the inequalities and injustices of our world must be…part of the inevitable order of things,”(32) but rather suggests that we confront these issues in order to resolve them. Kolvenbach asserts that society must eliminate this mindset and refuse to accept social injustice and inequality as a constant or stagnant entity within our global sphere. This lack of progression within society is attributed to man’s “selfishness;”(32) Kolvenbach believes society is behaving too passively on an issue that, “requires an action-oriented commitment”(27) in order to be effective. However, despite his societal critique, Kolvenbach calls attention to the “enormous talent”(31) that the United States currently possesses. In highlighting society’s ability, Kolvenbach is acknowledging that he believes that resolution is attainable; he believes that what has been perceived as “seemingly impossible” for many years, now has the potential to become “the possible”.
Kolvenbach identifies the “root” of injustice as being in a “spiritual problem,”(33) he explains: “Injustice is rooted in a spiritual problem, and its solution requires a spiritual conversion of each one’s heart and a cultural conversion of our global society so that humankind, with all the powerful means at its disposal, might exercise the will to change the sinful structure afflicting our world”(33). Kolvenbach’s vision-- although immense--now becomes a rather simple concept.
Kolvenbach brilliantly outlines the “composition of our time,”(32) highlighting the, “remarkable ethnic, cultural and class diversity”(31) that separates the world’s population; However, in contrast to explaining this separation, he points out that despite an individual’s age, socio-economic condition, or race--despite difference--all individuals are actually very similar. He writes: “Each one a unique individual, they all aspire to live life, to use their talents, to support their families and care for their children and elders, to enjoy peace and security, and to make tomorrow better”(32). Here, Kolvenbach is establishing the common ground that exists between individuals; he is working to remind his audience that all humans are interconnected through their sharing of these same needs, wants, and desires. Simultaneously, Kolvenbach is working to inform his audience that in order to inspire change within our world, that it must be a collective and unified effort among its inhabitants. Kolvenbach can now introduce his solution—one that requires extreme intimacy, cooperation, and acceptance between members of humanity. First, Kolvenbach carefully clarifies the Ignatian tradition; he explains that their purpose is, “…not to impose [their] religion on others, but rather to propose Jesus and his message of God’s Kingdom in a spirit of love to everyone”(26). This spirit of love exits both within religion, while also existing outside of a religious context—inviting and at the same time obliging individuals who may not affiliate with religion to also take part in this worldly effort.
Through identifying the heart as a vehicle for change, Kolvenbach is urging his audience to embark on an internal journey: to travel deep within themselves in order to find the capacity and willingness to generate universal love. Although this type of love proves challenging at times-- if it is properly harvested and when possessed, has the ability to transcend any negativity that exists within our world today. This love exists at the core of humanity—acting as the essential catalyst in driving necessary change: change that serves as our only hope to achieve universal peace.