Monday, January 27, 2014

Justice through action

When discussing the call to action, the writings by Rev. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach and Martin Luther King, Jr. describe the reasons for the importance of the enforcement of justice through action in modern times.  In both the Kolvenbach and King essays the common themes of social justice and interconnections play key roles in understanding one’s relations to others. For the two men the concept of action enables the individual to strive forward and go beyond current bounds or expected bounds of society to exert real change in the world. Both men feel that this call to social justice via action helps to turn the tide in the education of individuals to the issues that exist in their world. Dr. King expresses this idea when he writes:
First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. (King 3).
Indeed, here King argues that the worst option to take during the call to social justice is that which ignores the problems that continue to exist around us, or being ignorant to the pleas of those in trouble. For King order can exist as a structure of justice, however if maintaining the status quo and continuing social inequality fall under order, then order itself is unjust and uprooted. Although there remain numerous activities that are available for individuals in the pursuit of social justice, Kolvenbach highlights the importance of personal understanding in regards to the power it yields on the ability to change those individuals. He explains this more when states:
We must therefore raise our Jesuit educational standard to "educate the whole person of
solidarity for the real world." Solidarity is learned through "contact" rather than through
"concepts," as the Holy Father said recently at an Italian university conference.24 When
the heart is touched by direct experience, the mind may be challenged to change. Personal
involvement with innocent suffering, with the injustice others suffer, is the catalyst for
solidarity which then gives rise to intellectual inquiry and moral reflection. (Kolvenbach 8).
Therefore, social justice and action not only aid with the struggles of a people or issue, but the personal experience of contact also helps with the development of the person.
When thinking about Kolvenbach and King’s writings in my everyday life, one of the most important issues for me deals with my involvement with knowing myself. Because of the importance of interconnections in everyday life, I feel as though my commitment to others via service acts almost as an emptying out of myself. This emptying of myself mixes within the space between myself and another, the space that is itself empty. I feel as though the empty space between us only points to, or rather acts as the potentiality that I feel as though exists for the interaction to become anything over the course of any relationship. For this reason I believe that individuals and communities are necessary for each other so that both can actually “know themselves.” In this regard, individuals can not exist without communities, and communities can not exist without individuals, highlighting the importance of interconnection for the formation of one’s identity. Therefore, over the course of engaging in the call to action through social justice via community service, I am not existing as my own entity but rather being continually shaped by my experiences and my relationships as they evolve over time.
In the same sense, I feel as though the call to social justice takes on a similar appearance when talking about the recognition of justice. Just as individuals need the community in order to know themselves, I feel as though good needs evil in order to recognize what good actually is. In this same sense, evil is a necessary construction for the ultimate potentiality that can be expressed by both humans and in experience. In the same regard that the emptiness between two people expresses the potentiality of the directions that the relationship can form, the experience of evil expresses the unfolding potentiality that good has in regards to its ability to be experienced or expressed. Therefore, a perfect world would be the horrifying one. In the perfect world there would be no change, and the absence of change is death. The perfect world is the world where concepts like good have no potential to be expressed. Therefore, the world we live in, with all of its imperfections, is the beautiful world because of the unfolding potentiality that continues to exist here.

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