Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An Outside Perspective to Get Inside

Peter-Hans Kolvenbach’s speech can be summed up as the promotion of “men and women for others” (30). His speech is concerned with the importance of awareness of and service to the poor or underprivileged, not just in community service but also in offering opportunities in education. He calls for the members of his audience to look to the future as the place where we can break from the past of class division, a division which, despite the fact that “human society is able to solve problems such as feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, or developing more just conditions in life” (32), is unable to be breached.

Salman Rushdie, in his essay “Imaginary Homelands,” discusses looking back upon a homeland he had long since left, and how this affects his writing. Observing from a distance, he claims, makes all the difference. It allows a much clearer vision, and in the past he can find home. Perhaps we can learn from his tactic of looking back with clearer vision and incorporate this into the promotion of justice that Kolvenbach so strongly strives for. If there was a way to take ourselves out of the picture, to distance ourselves from the class distinction that exists in the United States, we might be able to see more clearly that it does, in fact, exist. An active removal of oneself from a situation is often the best way to have a more objective, total view. When we are caught up in the issues and lifestyle of our own class and way of life, we often fail to recognize that there is a rift in existence. Kolvenbach proposes that the faculty “[adopt] the point of view of those who suffer injustice” in order to better understand the values that they must teach (37). He proposes looking at life from a different point of view, whether it is one’s own life or the life of another. Rushdie does the same thing to write about his homeland. Although he did not decidedly choose to move in order to write objectively and with truth, the fact that it happened allowed him that objective freedom. This outside view of Jesuits, looking at life from a different angle, will also allow them and those who follow what they preach to have a more positive perspective on life and a more empathetic perspective on the lives of those who are in need.

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