Monday, January 27, 2014

King, Kolvenbach and Twain: The Justice League

  Kolvenbach’s essay provides detail to the make-up of Jesuit education. Simulating Ignacio Ellacuria’s vision for higher Jesuit education denotes that, “every university to be a social force, and it is the calling of a Jesuit university to take conscious responsibility for being such a force for faith and justice.” I couldn’t be certain if reading Kolvenbach’s essay was a form of propaganda provided by the professor to sway her students into the path of service learning…just kidding. But, as a student of a Jesuit University, this should be reason enough to reevaluate one’s academic career.
  I once tried at Loyola to embrace service into my life. I applied back in 2010 for the Jamaican Experience, a faith-based immersion trip, but I wasn’t accepted into the program. I was devastated. My reason for applying was onset by a family vacation the summer before my Sophomore year. I was looking forward to sunny days sprawled on the beach without much worry other than sun poisoning. Passports in tow, my family and I hopped on a plane and landed hours later at the Montego Bay airport. The bus from our all-inclusive resort was ready and waiting for arrival. Take note that this is the first time I have ever been outside the U.S. It took about forty minutes to travel from the airport to the hotel, but within that time, I had become numb. As soon as the bus departed the airport grounds, nothing but evidence of poverty ensured my surroundings, unlike anything I had ever seen before. The rolling green hills were full of tiny huts, of naked children and malnourished mothers, of trash and pollution. A young boy kicked a soccer ball around in the dirt and trash, with an even younger girl, both shoeless. The bus took a sharp, sudden left. And there we were, faced with an enormous wall. The resort was completely surrounded by this large, domineering wall and completely segregated from the outside. Jamaica went away inside the wall, we became part of this new realm: an Americanized version of Jamaica. Loyola’s own Sr. Missy Gugerty once said, “She (or he) who sees is responsible.” I saw, I know the difference, and I am responsible.
     Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” broke my heart, filled me with rage and taught me compassion. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. What ever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” The Jesuits teach to serve for the greater glory of God, that “solidarity is learned through ‘context’ rather than through ‘concepts’” and through this solidarity the purpose is to create “moral concern” on how the world ought to coexist (Kolvenbach 34-36). It is difficult to argue such an ethical standard for living: “men and women for others.” I find the motto generally uplifting except for the use of the word, “others.” The word “others” reminds me of something different, something or someone that doesn’t belong. It reminds me of the wall in Jamaica in it’s attempt to avoid or ignore something so natural. The idea of the “others” needs to be demolished because with this attitude of difference, justice can never be attained. 
     The word “nigger” in Huckleberry Finn depicts this wall, this thing that divides the “we” and the “they,” the black and the white. King describes “nigger” and other deregulatory terms as “nagging signs” and humiliating. Twain is a man of words and understands his use of “nigger” is vital to the novel: it creates an automatic barrier between Jim and Huck. It helps the reader to understand the world of Huck. When he becomes emotionally attached to Jim he begins to break the law in order to save his life. King said, “an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.” Huck is revolutionary character: a lying, cheating, fourteen-year old menace but one that certainly does not commit to the social norm. Although we find Huck having internal dilemmas, he continues to break the rules in order for justice to be rendered and I think this is just the type of courage King is talking about.

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