Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Justice: Rights and Wrongs

Dr. Nicholas Walterstorf shared his views and experiences on justice, rights, and wrongs on October 1st. Dr. Walterstorf is a Yale graduate that has had several experiences helping those in need and he presented these to a large assembly. His lecture was very clearly related to our Jesuit views at Loyola and the poem “Theme for English B,” by Langston Hughes.

The relation to Jesuit education is pretty obvious when one thinks about the meaning of Jesuit education and the expectations that are held of us, these including the idea of helping others, educating the whole person, and educating the whole person for others. All of these ideas seem to be ideas that Dr. Walterstorf lives by. As a graduate from Yale he obviously holds education very high in his priorities and it seems that he worked very hard even as a child. Instead of taking this education and getting a high paying job, living in a lavish house, in an expensive neighborhood, he devoted many years of his life to helping others and fighting for their justice. He said that he felt a calling to speak up for the wronged people. In 1976, Dr. Walterstorf wanted to help people who had their homes seized in South Africa. After traveling to South Africa and doing manual labor, he came home and used his education and motivation to help those people by promoting the cause and giving various talks on the issues. He did the same for the Palestinians in 1987. Dr. Walterstorf’s talk was incredibly motivational and showed the ideal life plan of an individual with a Jesuit education. Not only did this lecture relate to Jesuit education, and provide an excellent example of how we can use our education to help others, but it was also very closely related to different works of literature.

The Justice: Rights and Wrongs lecture has a very close relationship to the poem “Theme for English B.” One way that this is true, is in the way that the speaker of the poem describes his individual state of being. By this I mean that the speaker says,
“You are white—
Yet a part of me, as I am part of you.”

Without meaning to the speaker makes a very strong, important point. These two lines bring up the idea that we are all part of each other and everyone is either related in some way or another or the idea that despite how different we are, we are still the same. This idea is incredibly important and relates to the Justice: Rights and Wrongs lecture in that, because we are all the same we need to help and save each other. We need to use our Jesuit education for the good of others. Also the idea makes all unjust acts sound completely ridiculous. The poem illustrates how closely we all are related and how similar we are which leads us to see that all unjust acts and rash feelings and completely unfair. The lecture pointed out that the acts of injustice often occur between different groups of people, for example the Palestinians and Israelis, or the South Africans. This lecture and poem then made me think about how different groups of people are in culture, color, race, but at the same time we are all related and we are all “the same.”

In reflecting on this event and this poem, I thought about how serious disagreements may seem to be, but in all actuality they are meaningless. For example the hatred and fighting going on in the Middle East seems to be such a huge problem and injustices are trying to be resolved, but the feuds are unnecessary considering that we all may be individuals and have different cultures, we are all each other.

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