Thursday, February 10, 2011

Defining Our Mission, Defining Ourselves

In a way, both Salman Rushdie in his essay and Peter-Hans Kolvenbach in his speech are calling for the same thing: a radical change in our way of thinking and therefore acting in order to change the world. Both men seem to be speaking to our generation directly and there is no one better equipped than us, the millennial generation, to take up this call, especially at a time when our own definition classifies us as unable. As the children of technology we are seen as perhaps incapable of dealing with the real world, but as Kolvenbach points out: “Thanks to science and technology, human society is able to solve problems such as feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, or developing more just conditions of life, but remains stubbornly unable to accomplish this”—it seems we are in the perfect position to be able to accomplish this (32). He cites the moral assessment of GC 32 in that inequalities and injustices are a result of what man himself has done, or more correctly, not done. The way to solve this comes with the education of the whole person in Jesuit universities who are ready, willing and able to go out into the real world and create change. By combining this learned solidarity with Rushdie’s belief that by knowingly defining and therefore creating reality we should be able to “open the entire universe,” eliminating the need for insiders and outsiders. Classes such as this one have certainly answered Kolvenbach’s appeal to raise the standard of Jesuit education by promoting “contact” rather than “concepts” but it must be remembered that across the board, even in non-Jesuit universities, it is almost impossible to be admitted without a laundry list of service experience , stellar grades and a wide range of extracurricular interest. It is no longer acceptable to be good at one thing; one must be good at everything and more, a unique characteristic of our millennial generation. Even if the standard is raised in institutions of higher education, similar to Rushdie’s broken mirror, it is all the fragments that we have put together throughout our lives that define who we are and who we are to become. Despite our supposed shortcomings it is inherent to our generation to be the answer to the world-wide poverty crisis because of who we have been shaped to become. Unlike any generation before us (besides, perhaps, the flower-children of the 60s), we are super-liberal and open-minded in addition to being over-qualified for any given position from athlete to scientist. With our tools literally in hand, with every tweet, post, blog, status and email we hold the power to define ourselves and to create the change that has been long awaited.

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