Eboo Patel’s book, Acts of Faith, stressed the idea of religious tolerance from a younger, more self aware generation. This same idea was very central to Mr. Patel’s speech that he gave in McGuire Hall. The main point of his was that beyond anything else, the best attribute one can possess is to be understanding and tolerant of others who are different from yourself. By achieving this goal of his, the global community would be able to work together to achieve many great things, instead of fighting against each other and slowing important human progress. Another large part of his talk was on service, which ties in directly with tolerance. By serving those who you do not have a complete understanding of, you can become more educated on how they live, and thus, you can allow yourself to connect with them on a human level.
This idea of tolerance is given the title of pluralism. For Patel, pluralism is the application of tolerance to religion more or less, for in his novel it is mostly religion that he talks about being very one minded which causes conflicts. His idea is that if religious extremists were able to take a step back and look at what religion is trying to tell them, in most cases this is to love one another, then they would be able to tolerate those who they currently spend time, resources, and energy persecuting. As a youth leader for most of his life, Patel spent much of his time trying to tell children and teenagers about the value of pluralism and how important it is to be tolerant of those you do not have an understanding for. His teachings also centered around understanding this idea through going into the community and serving people who are different from the teens who are assisting them.
Here at Loyola, Mr. Patel’s ideas and teachings ring particularly true. A large part of the student body engages in some sort of service and the purpose of their volunteer work is not lost. It is always being reminded that you should be helping your community because it is not only a responsibility for a privileged student to assist those less fortunate, but also because it is a mutual relationship between the volunteer and the person being helped, where both are learning and growing from the experience. These ideas follow the Jesuit mission here which is strongly tied to service in the community.
In Peter-Hans Kolvenbach’s essay, “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education,” he outlines the Jesuit mission in regard to education and service. It is a Jesuit belief that it is a responsibility for the educated to take an active role in the removal of injustices found in the world. This is accomplished through the work of service. He stated that, “justice requires an action-oriented commitment to the poor with a courageous personal option.” This is saying that in order to have a world with justice, people must take action and serve those who are underprivileged or marginalized. This idea would be completely supported by Patel and he would go further to say that it is most important that young people adopt this type of thinking to ensure a brighter future than there is today.
Both the Jesuit idea of service and that of Mr. Patel are very similar. They both are concerned with the injustices of the world and are committed to making change through actions and leadership. The difference comes when Patel relates service to pluralism and how they are interconnected. This is something that the Jesuit ideals do not touch on, but it can be thought that the Society of Jesus would be accepting of other faiths and encourage a peacefulness between them.