Theology 311-55 Faith and Justice
Rev. Benjamin J. Urmston, S.J. (Dorothy Day House, Call 745-3320)
Foundation of Course: "Every Xavier student matters." Why? Because I believe each human person is created in the image and likeness of God. Thus each human person has dignity, value, and worth. We are free, intelligent, social human persons, able to understand and be understood, able to love and be loved.
We are able to have good and just relationships with God, with each member of our human family, and with physical creation. We are able to reflect and freely choose our friends, our church, and our work. We are able to take responsibility for our choices.
To grow as human persons and in our relationships with God, our neighbor, and with physical creation, we have the right to the resources necessary to be fully human and achieve our vocation. Thus each human person has basic human rights, political, civic, and economic that flow from the reality that we are sons and daughters of God.
We live on a beautiful planet, with water, fertile soil, trees, sentient animals. God calls us to a responsible stewardship of our earth and a sharing of the resources that sustain life.
As human persons we have the right to participate in decisions that affect ourselves and those close to us. We have the right to have a say in how healthy will be the air that we breathe, how safe and secure we will be, whether we will have access to meaningful employment, stable prices in necessities, accurate and balanced information. We have the right to be able to solve conflict in a human and peaceful way.
Rights are abstract. Rights become concrete when we promote the exercise of those rights for ourselves and others.
Goals of Faith and Justice:
To create a vision of a more peaceful and just world for the year 2034.
To examine what a proper relationship is to material things, to animals, to our neighbor, and to God.
To know how to deal with violence and conflict in just and peaceful ways.
To study Israel/Palestine as an example of how to deal with violence.
To stimulate the student to think critically on issues of peace and justice; to know how economic justice is connected with peace.
To know what basic economic, civic, and political rights are; what the origin of these rights is; what our obligations are to respect and promote the exercise of basic human rights; to examine which human rights have priority in case of conflict. To begin to get the tools to solve conflict in a human and peaceful way.
To know various notions of what the goal is of our planet and the human family, the obstacles to achieving our goal, and various ways of moving toward our goal. To appreciate the need to form community at all levels.
For each student to get in touch with his or her own notions of faith, justice, peace, human rights, his or her own goals and relationships, his or her own conflicts; his or her own vision of a more just and peaceful world.
This is an Ethics, Religion, and Society course; also a Peace Studies Course.
Required Textbooks: Fred Kammer, S.J., Doing Faithjustice, An Introduction to Catholic Social Thought
Naim Stifan Ateek, Justice, and Only Justice, A Palestinian Theology of Liberation
Marc H. Ellis, Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation
Rabbi Michael Lerner, Healing Israel/Palestine, A Path to Peace and Reconciliation
John W. Mulhall, CSP, America and the Founding of Israel.
Alan Dershowitz, The Case for Israel.
Jimmy Carter, Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid
Charles M. Sennott, The Body and the Blood, The Holy Lands' Christians at the Turn of a New Millennium.
Fr. Niall O'Brien, Island of Tears, Island of Hope
Fr. Benjamin J. Urmston, S.J. Web Page (http://www.xavier.edu./frben.htm)
Ignatian Spirituality and Peace, a Path to Peace with Justice
(Ignatian Spirituality, Theological Reflection, Human Rights, International Law and Order
Non-violence, Economic Democracy, Social Analysis, Earth, Peace
Xavier University Self Study, Current Events, Liturgy, Theology 311-51)
(Computers available in Computer Lab, residence halls, etc.)
In order to earn an A for this class, it is expected that the student's work, according to the academic policy of Xavier, be done in an "exceptional" manner. Students who strive for an A need to demonstrate outstanding integration and effort well beyond the norm. .
The requirements for The 311 consist of the following:
1) Food and Farm experiences: Grailville and Rural Plunge mandatory; Dayton Organic Farm recommended; OR 2) Grassroots Community Action/ Evanston Experience; OR 3) Health Care
Students who strive for an A are asked to be creative in keeping a semester long journal which records a student's ideas and experiences in this Faith and Justice course. A journal gives evidence of knowledge of what texts, handouts, instructor, and guest speakers say. A journal has clear, solidly based and imaginative expression of student's own opinion and evaluation.
The instructor will grade the journal regularly.. Always bring your journal to class for spot checks or collection by instructor. Students will note the date of the journal entry, making an entry each week. Journals should be legible, preferably typed, and contain handouts by guest speakers.
Grades for all:
l/3 - 1st quarter; l/3 - 2nd quarter; l/3 - final exam.
F-Failure(59 or below) D -Minimum Passing (60-69); C Satisfactory (70-79); B Good (80-89) ; A Exceptional (90-100)
Requirements for all: There will be one test each quarter; within a week of your field experience a five-page paper on your service learning experience(s) integrating the experience with this class; a ten page paper due Dec. 11 either on a specific topic such as food and farming or democratic international law, or on your vision for a peaceful and just world; and the final exam. Students are expected to participate in class discussions. Theme topic and outline for Dec. 11th paper due Nov. 15th.
I expect each of you to have an approved field experience this semester.
A special Xavier committee wrote in July, 1991, A Proposal for the Future: Xavier remains committed to offering students an educational experience that makes connections between acquisition of knowledge, development of values and a personal awareness of social responsibility. This requires an academic program that promotes a serious analysis of the contemporary scene and offers opportunities for students to clarify, challenge and apply their values to real life situations. . . in the mid-1970's the Society of Jesus identified the service of faith and the promotion of justice which it includes as the crucial struggle of our time. . . Jesuit universities are called to help students to grow into men and women for others.
The Wingspread report contains principles resulting from extensive consultation with more than 70 organizations interested in service and learning. The combination of service and learning is powerful. It creates potential benefits beyond what either service or learning can offer separately. The frequent results of the effective interplay of service and learning are that participants: develop a habit of critical reflection on their experiences; enable them to learn more throughout life;are more curious and motivated to learn; are able to perform better service; strengthen their ethic of social and civic response; feel more committed to addressing the underlying problems behind social issues; understand problems in a more complex way and can imagine alternative solutions; realize that their lives can make a difference.
A field experience thus is more than a volunteer opportunity. It's a special experience with an orientation and a reflection afterwards. A field experience includes social analysis and has an educational component.
Choose from these: There will be a better orientation and follow-up for members of Th 311-55. Thus the following are highly recommended.
Grailville Organic Farm. Community Supported Agriculture. Tour of farm. Help with garden. Meet at Dorothy Day House at 12:30 for orientation; 1:15 leave for Loveland, Ohio; 2 to 5 tour and work: 5:30 to 7:30 return to Dorothy Day House for reflection and evaluation. Limit 20.
Procter & Gamble Tower on 5th street in downtown Cincinnati. Corporate Responsibility. Meet at Dorothy Day House at 1:30 pm for orientation; leave for Procter @ Gamble at 2:15; tour part of corporate headquarters; presentation by Deborah White on corporate responsibility 3:00 to 5:00; return to Dorothy House 5:30 to 6:30 for reflection and evaluation. Limit 15.
AFL-CIO Labor Council. Meet at Dorothy Day House at 5:30 pm for orientation; go to meeting of Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council 7 to 7:30; Visit by candidates for local elections until 8:30; Social until 9:30; return to Dorothy Day House for brief evaluation until 11:00 pm. Limit 30.
Labor Issues Club Chef Processing Plant. A walk through Club Chef, a food processing plant. This experience will help us appreciate how our food is processed for fast food restaurants, what workers need to do to prepare salads, etc. It will also help us understand the value of labor unions and the teaching by churches of the dignity of human labor.
Friday to Saturday evening Rural Plunge 1:30 pm Friday orientation. 3pm leave for New Albany, Indiana, across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky. 5-7 pm Visit with Jim Hoyer, Farm Organizer for the Campaign for Economic Justice sponsored by the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana to discuss a fair price for farmers; the implications for farmers, for the safety of our food, for the environment of bioengineered seed. 8pm arrive at family farm west of Tell City, Indiana. Sleeping bags needed. Orientation discussing the challenges facing family farmers, value of the National Farmers Organization. Saturday Work on farm. Visit other farms. 7 pm head back to Dorothy Day House. Limit 15.
Saturday, Nov. 10th: Organic Farm in New Lebanon, west of Dayton, Ohio. Meet at Dorothy Day House at 12:30 pm for orientation; go to New Lebanon at 1:00; tour and presentation 2 to 5 pm; return to Dorothy Day House for brief evaluation until 7:30 pm. Limit 12.
Students from Th 311-55 certainly may choose from the other approved field experiences if they wish.
Assignments: (Subject to change; watch this web-site)
On web-site http://www.xu.edu/peace/frben.htm read Theology 311-55; also Theological Reflection through Finding God in all Things; Read the introduction of Doing Faithjustice; read Justice and Only Justice to p. 17.
Study questions: How is the Christian faith in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit connected to love and service of our neighbor?
Describe a little of what God is like. Describe one or two ways in which one can approach God. What does Father Fred Kammer mean by faithjustice? How are faith and justice related? Who is Father Naim Sifan Ateek?
Read web-site Economic Democracy, Labor and Leisure (toward top of section after Mondragon); web-site Current Events US Catholic Bishops Labor Day message for 2001; Read Doing Faithjustice, pp. 77-81, 85-87; 103-105.
Study questions: Why does human labor have dignity, value, and worth? What is a living wage? Should workers be free to organize into labor unions? Are labor unions only for their protection or also to better promote the common good? Why is employment a basic human right? Why should we have leisure? What should be the effect on labor of globalization? Has getting off welfare always been a step up for the poor?
Class will be held in Dorothy Day House. Read web-site Economic Democracy, Food and Farming
Read Doing Faithjustice to p. 40.
Study questions: What is meant by organically grown food? Why would someone freely choose to eat organic food?
What were the results of the research of Dr. Peter Rosset concerning small farm agriculture?
Describe the ancient city state of Ebla in Syria. What did Fr. Fred Kammer learn from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius? What is the meaning of Genesis 2.15 "The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it"? What was the Jubilee year in the Hebrew Covenant? How did the US Catholic Bishops summarize the idea of justice in the Hebrew scriptures?
Read web-site Economic Democracy.
Read Doing Faithjustice to p. 59; read Stephen J. Krupa, S.J. "Celebrating Dorothy Day" America 8/27-9/3, 2001
Study questions: What are the various meanings of economic democracy? Describe Mondragon. From a theological and ethical perspective evaluate the existence of enormous wealth alongside great poverty. Why are taxes patriotic? ethical? Is the "free" market a kind of god? What alternatives could there be to the present economic system?
What was "a year of favor from the Lord"? What is the role of the Spirit in the work for justice?
Corporate Responsibility, Read web-site Economic Democracy; Doing Faithjustice to p. 76.
Read Web-site Current Events at bottom "Terrorism in US" Spot checks on Journals.
Sister Ruth Kuhn, S.C.
Study questions: What are the various aspects of corporate responsibility? When did the St. Vincent DePaul Society begin in the US? the National Catholic Rural Life Conference? What is the difference between communtative justice, distributive justice, and social justice? Describe modern Catholic Social Teaching.
How could genetically engineered seed do more harm than the recent terrorist attacks? How can we respond to the recent attacks? By hatred? prejudice? taking the law into our own hands? supporting international law and order? an international criminal court? Have we been guilty of causing unnecessary harm to others, to animals and to the earth? What role have the media played in violence and hatred? Is dominance by a few wealthy individuals or corporations or nations antithetical to democracy? When violence occurs where is the first place to look before we assign guilt or blame to others?
Read Doing Faithjustice to p. 105. web-site Human Rights.
Study questions: What did Pope John XXIII mean by "the multiplication of social relationships"? economic rights?
What are some of the key ideas in "The Church in the Modern World" of Vatican II? What was Pope Paul VI's vision of globalization? What did the Synod of Bishops in "Justice in the World" mean by action for justice is a "constitutive dimension of the preaching of the gospel"?
What is the foundation for basic human rights? What is meant by civil rights, political rights, economic rights? solidarity rights? What is the value of agreements such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, etc. when there has been such blatant disregard for the exercise of human rights?
Read Doing Faithjustice to p. 139; web-site International Law and Order.
Study questions: Why should a Christian "stand with the poor"?
What is the value of law? How could democratic international law bring world peace with justice? Why does the world need democratic international law? Why does international law need to be democratic, using the principle of subsidiarity, with proper checks and balances?
Read Doing Faithjustice to p. 168; web site Non-violence.
Study questions: How do we stand with the poor? Why should we move from charity to justice?
How is active non-violence a third alternative? Describe various aspects of non-violence. What is meant by a consistent ethic of life? Why should we treat animals with respect and care? Describe civil disobedience. What is the Global Peace Service
Finish Doing Faithjustice. Web-site Social Analysis.
Study questions: What are social structures? sinful social structures?
Why should a Christian engage in elementary social analysis? Why is important to have economic democracy at the base, the social economic level? What is sustainable agriculture?
Corporate Responsibility. Read web-site Earth See new experience available above on Saturday, Oct. 27th.
Test on matter taken to this point.
Read Web-page. Current Events.
Study questions: How would some form of proportional representation in voting be more democratic? How did the Center for Voting and Democracy predict the winners of 83% of US House races in 1998 long before the Monica Lewinsky scandal?
How would democratic international law alleviate the problems of all of the events mentioned from 1998 to 2005?
Proportional Representation. Professor John Anderson. Read web-site Non-violence on voting and non-violence.
2:30 pm Kelley Auditorium; 7 pm (for those who contract for an A and for extra credit) Democratic International Law. Conatan Board Room of Schmidt. Read links on Democratic International Law Web site.
Read Justice and Only Justice to p. 49. On web site, Current Events, statements of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Catholic Bishops etc. concerning Israel. Study questions: Is it more important to visit the Holy Land or be in solidarity with the people who live there? Describe the personal experiences of Father Naim Stifan Ateek's family in 1948.
How can Fr. Ateek be a Christian, Palestinian, Arab, and Israeli all at the same time? Who supported Zionism? What are the main sources of conflict in Israel?
Read Justice and Only Justice to p. 73. Study questions: When did Palestine become mainly a Christian country?
Arab and Muslim? Did God promise Israel to European and US Jews? Describe the Jewish Theology of Liberation of Marc Ellis.
(Responsible citizenship is a form of non-violence) Read Justice and Only Justice to p. 114. Statements about Israel in Web Site, Current Events. Study questions: What is meant by a Palestinian theology of liberation? When he recited it in the liturgy what did "Israel" mean to the eminent historian Arnold J. Toynbee? Is God partial only to Jews? Is God a God of justice and peace? Evaluate Zionism from a Scriptural point of view. Do we become holy by living in a particular part of the world or by being faithful to the God of justice and love?
Read Justice and Only Justice to p. 150. Study questions: Should the laws of all nations be in harmony with international law and moral law? What have been some of the resolutions of the United Nations concerning Israel? Have Jews been in the vanguard in working for human rights? How could spiritual discernment help in minimizing rationalizations and self-deception concerning Israel? How can non-violence be practiced in Israel? peace and reconciliation? peace and justice?
Finish Justice and Only Justice. Study questions: What does jihad mean to the Muslims? Should Israel become one democratic nation with liberty and justice for all? Should there be two states, one for Israel and one for the Palestinians?
What should the Palestinian state look like? Is anti-Semitism a problem? Is it anti-Semitic to criticize the present government of Israel? Is it right to do wrong to others even if wrong has been done to us? Should Christians love their enemies?
Read the Web-site Home Page, Peace and Peace Studies in Xavier Self-study. Turn in the theme topic expressed in sentence form along with an outline of your ten page term paper. Can be a specific topic like "Democratic international law is an immediate moral imperative." Or it can be a vision of the kind of world you would like to see in the year 2030 like: "By 2030 our planet will have democratic international law, economic democracy and basic human rights realized in a non-violent way." Paper should reflect vision presented by instructor on Web-site but also your own vision.
Students will write theme topic on the board, and we will all critique it and give suggestions.
Study questions: What are the two main interpretations of peace? What is the peace of Christ? Describe what peace means
to Jews, Muslims, Buddists, Hindus, Christians. Why is a vision of peace valuable? What are the elements of my vision of peace? What is meant by peace studies?
Read the Web-site Earth Study questions: How does Christian Scripture connect physical creation and the redemptive act of Jesus? In what sense are we invited to be co-creators, stewards of the earth, sharers? Does the earth participate in sin? the Covenants? Christian sacraments? Oneness? the Eucharist?
Read the Web-site Liturgy. How is the Catholic Eucharist connected to the death and resurrection of Jesus? physical hunger? the poor? peace? the real presence of Jesus? Salvation? Oneness? What is clock time? temporality?
liturgical time? Should we be mainly concerned about the next life? Did Jesus grow after His Resurrection? How can the Risen Jesus help us in our journey?
Discussion. Attendance optional.
Review. Attendance optional.
2nd Quarter Test.
Ten page term paper due. Oral report of paper.
Review. Attendance optional.
Optional: Extra reading, written reports on extra approved events connected with Faith and Justice. Oral reports.
Expectations of the instructor:
Prompt and active attendance at class. ( 2 points off quarter grade for unexcused absences.) Participating in discussions. Listening to one another, not dominating nor disrupting the class. No private conversations.
I invite you to a journey together. I believe in dialogue, not debate, a moderate challenge. We need a certain level of basic respect and trust to grow together.
I have certain convictions on basic issues. I will try to explain why I have these convictions. I may challenge your own convictions or try to help you see the implications of your position.
The course is not directed against anyone. We do make judgments about actions and structures. We try to distinguish between the person and the idea a person may have.
We will have guest speakers to enlarge our experience. We will attempt to read the signs of the times in current events.
Let us know as we proceed how you're doing. Understand? enjoy? energized? upset? confused? disagree? It is all right not to understand fully, especially in the beginning.
In our quest for knowledge and truth I suggest the following questions for reflection:
What degree of spiritual freedom do we have? Are we open to new ideas? What are our vested interests?
Before we disagree with someone, are we able first to state the otherâ??s view to his/her satisfaction? Then, do we agree or disagree? Why or why not? What are the sources of our information? Is one source more credible than another?
What is our own background and experience? What do our parents think? Our teachers? Our peers? The communications media?
What is the point of view of the poor? of labor? the family farmer? farmworkers? Corporations?
How do we feel about what is being said? Are we encouraged? angry? upset? confused? frightened? depressed? bored, indifferent?
What have we done about the issue? What will we do? What should our government do? business? the churches? others?
In what direction do we think the human family should be going? Full production? Full employment? Price stability in necessities? Comprehensive and common security?
How can we move toward our vision?
Here are a few thoughts to help with reflection on the field experience . . .
Socrates: The unreflected life is not worth living. (As the unlived life not worth reflecting on).
St. Ignatius of Loyola: Walking, jogging are physical exercises that keep our bodies in shape. Meditation, examination of conscience, prayer are spiritual exercises that help our spirit to grow.
Special report taken after extensive consultation with more than 70 organizations interested in service and learning: The service experience alone does not insure that either significant learning or effective service will occur. Participants need the opportunity to think about their experience. Through discussions with others including those served and by individual reflection, participants can develop a better sense of social responsibility, advocacy, and active citizenship.
Theological reflection means
-continually going to the vision of God's Word in Scripture,
-reflecting on the values of the churches and the values of our humanness, and
-allowing God's values to interact with the real world in which we find ourselves.
What was said, done, felt?
What was the background and setting of the experience?
Was there a specific event or moment which caused a reaction in you? (happy, sad, angry, frustrated, upset, confused, frightened, depressed, bored, indifferent?)
Can you identify issues and relationships?
Did you learn anything more about the problems in our community or possible remedies?
Who is making the decisions that create the situation you experience? Who is benefitting from the decision? Who is paying most of the cost of the decision?
Can you relate your experience to important theological or human values, i.e. the opportunity to grow as a human person; the need for food, shelter, security, education, etc.?
Did the experience change your image of God?
Did it increase your respect for each human person?
Did you learn anything of what you could give to others? of what others could give to you?
3.The Personal Application:
What are the implications of all this for you?
How does this contribute to your own self-understanding?
Does this experience leave you with any further questions?
Faith and Justice
"My brothers! What good is it for someone to say, 'I have faith' if his actions do not prove it? Can that faith save him? Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don't have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them, "God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!' if you don't give them the necessities of life? So it is with faith: if it is alone and has no actions with it, then it is dead." James 2.l4-l7.
"Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel." International Synod of Bishops, Justice in the World, l971, No. 6.
"Faithjustice. The single word forged of the two concepts undercuts those who would elevate one concept over the other, render one instrumental to the other, separate the two, or otherwise downplay the importance of one. . . usually justice. As we will see, however, this unitive understanding is actually as old as the Hebrew prophets, was intimately familiar to Jesus of Nazareth, and is critically important to understanding the gospel in today's world. Using a single word, in fact, may even help us better grasp the Hebrew sense of words like mishpat or sedaquah, both of which actually reflect a rich range of meaning, but are often translated simply by 'righteousness' or 'justice.'
Faithjustice is a passionate virtue which disposes citizens to become involved in the greater and lesser societies around themselves in order to create communities where human dignity is protected and enhanced, the gifts of creation are shared for the greatest good of all, and the poor are cared for with respect and a special love." Fred Kammer, S.J. Doing Faithjustice, pp.8, 9. (Well documented with bibliography, p. 205)
"God is described as a "God of justice" (Is 30.l8) who loves justice (Is 61.8; Ps ll.7; 33.5; 38.28;99.4) and delights in it (Jer 9.23.) God demands justice from the whole people (Dt l6.20) and executes justice for the needy (Ps 140.l3)Central to the biblical presentation of justice is that the justice of a community is measured by its treatment of the powerless in society... justice will bring about peace; right will produce calm and security (Is 32.l7) People are summoned to be just, that is, to be in a proper relation to God, by observing God's laws which form them into a faithful community... Nor is justice opposed to love, rather it is both a manifestation of love and a condition for love to grow. Because God loves Israel, God rescues them from oppression and summons them to be a people that "does justice" and loves kindness. The quest for justice arises from loving gratitude for the saving acts of God and manifests itself in wholehearted love of God and neighbor." (Economic Justice for All US Bishops, 38,39.)
"Faith is a relationship and relationships require attention if they are to persist . . .Hebrews 12.1-4 calls us to look after our faith, to take care of it just as we take care of our bodily health, just as we take care of our personal relationships with people we love. Looking after our faith involves a conscious personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, and awareness of His participation in our lives." Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk Live Letters http://www.CatholicCincinnati.org/liveletters/index.htm
What is it to be a companion of Jesus today? It is to engage, under the standard of the Cross, in the crucial struggle of our time: the struggle for faith and that struggle for justice which it includes.. the prevalence of injustice in a world where the very survival of the human race depends on our caring for and sharing with one another is one of the principal obstacles to belief in a God who is justice because God is love... the service of faith and the promotion of justice cannot be for us simply one ministry among others. It must be the integrating factor of all our ministries; and not only of our ministries but of our inner life as individuals, as communities, and as a world-wide brotherhood... (32nd International Congregation of the Society of Jesus, 1975, Decree 2)
The mission of the Society of Jesus today is the service of faith, of which the promotion of justice is an absolute requirement. This is so because the reconciliation of men among themselves, which their reconciliation with God demands, must be based on justice.. All of this demands that we practice discernment of spirits.. there can be no promotion of justice in the full and Christian sense unless we also preach Jesus Christ and the mystery of reconciliation Jesus brings.. it will not be possible to bring Christ to our neighbor or to proclaim his Gospel effectively unless a firm decision is taken to devote ourselves to the promotion of justice.. too often we are insulated from any real contact with unbelief and with the hard, everyday consequences of injustice and oppression.. A greater willingness to be in the world--the world that cries for justice-- and thus to know it by experience will therefore be a decisive test of our faith, our hope, our charity.
The promotion of justice should not be for us merely one ministry among others. It should be a concern of our whole lives; an essential aspect of all our apostolic endeavors.. a commitment to the men and women who live a life of hardship and who are the victims of oppression cannot be that of a few Jesuits only. It should be a characteristic of the life of all of us as individuals and a characteristic of our communities and institutions as well..
The ministry of the Spiritual Exercises helps to remove the barriers between God and us... We must be more aware of the need for theological reflection, carried on in a context which is both interdisciplinary and genuinely integrated with the culture in which it is done.. (32nd General Congregation, S.J., Decree 4)
St. Ignatius says love ought to manifest itself in deeds rather than in words. I would rather feel compunction than define it. Thus I would rather do faithjustice than dissect it to death.
Faithjustice goes together. We can't love God without loving our neighbor. We find love of neighbor more difficult without God's love and grace.
This theology course is entitled Faith and Justice. I host a radio religious talk show called Faith and Justice Forum. Dorothy Day House strives to integrate Faith and Justice. The Peace Studies Minor is an interdisciplinary attempt to read the signs of the times and examine the implications of a peace with justice.
Although my life has been immersed in faithjustice, my commitment to faithjustice really began in the army. My commitment didn't happen because I had heard the term faithjustice but because I wanted to bring peace and justice to our world in a faith perspective.
We have a choice between global dictatorship or global democracy. Indeed we need to decide whether we want a globe at all! The earth on which we live has evolved over millions of years. The economic, political, cultural, and ethical relationships which you are studying this semester have been built up over hundreds even thousands of years. Through nuclear weapons, we could destroy our globe in a few days. Or we can gradually destroy the earth on which we live and the relationships we have built.
With Victor Hugo I think there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. I hope that each day we will be a tiny step closer to global democracy because we will be a tiny step closer to the idea of global democracy.
Once upon a time I was where you are, an undergraduate student here at Xavier. It was during the Second World War and I volunteered for the US Army. I found myself in Pattonâ??s Third Army in Europe. I was also in the Philippine Islands. World War II affected people in different ways. I sometimes think we have become fixated on World War II even though everything has changed but our way of thinking. I came away from World War II with a passion for peace. I suppose I could have tried to become an economist or a politician or a social worker. I decided to become a Jesuit priest. We have the knowledge to form an interdisciplinary vision of a world more in accord with Godâ??s Word. Weâ??re not willing to pay the price. Thatâ??s a spiritual problem.
Iâ??m sure you could find someone who could speak more eloquently than I about global democracy; someone who knows more or whose memory is sharper. I doubt that youâ??ll find many who have a greater passion for global democracy.
There has always been only one globe, one human family. Over the centuries we have built structures and relationships, more recently the nation state, a modern communications media, an economic system, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, the modern corporation, advanced technology, improved methods of education, etc. All of these have been human creations, created by human persons who are sinners, thus subject to change, growth, and Godâ??s grace. The laws of physics such as the law of gravity we cannot change. We can change sinful economic and social structures.
Although what has happened in our world, is happening and could happen gives me nightmares, I also have dreams. I feel that unless I have a vision I cannot see the forest for the trees. I can get so lost in details and the myriad of issues that I lose a sense of the larger picture. The companion of Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, always called for clarification of thought. Ignoring obstacles, what kind of world would I like to see in 2030? Can we have global democracy by 2030? Can we at least start to move in that direction?
If you have read parts of my web-site, you know what my vision is.
Without a culture of basic human rights, especially economic rights, the human family does not have the minimum essentials necessary for human life. God did not create us to be essentially frustrated. There are two Cincinnatiâ??s; the one that you and I know and have lived in. The second Cincinnati that doesnâ??t have the minimum essentials necessary for human life; whose needs are enormous, whose frustrations are endless, whose potential is wasted, whose voice is not heard. There are two Nazareths, Palestinian Nazareth, Israeli Nazaareth. "But this agony need not be! We are interdependent. Each of us depends on the well-being of the whole, and so we have respect for the community of living beings, for people, animals, and plants, and for the preservation of Earth, the air, water and soil. . We must consider humankind our family. . We must strive for a just social and economic order, in which everyone has an equal chance to reach full potential as a human being. . . With risk and a readiness to sacrifice there can be no fundamental change in our situation. Therefore we commit ourselves to a global ethic, to understanding one another, and to socially beneficial, peace-fostering, and nature-friendly ways of life." 1993 Parliament of the World's Religions, Chicago, Illinois, USA Towards a Global Ethic.
But we cannot turn our attention to the second Cincinnati that lacks minimum essentials without at the same time working toward global democracy. Without democratic international law, basic human rights are not possible. Because of our fear and insecurity, we pour all of our resources into national military weapons and a police state. But a single nation state or a group of nation states are incapable of judging fairly or acting promptly. Without democratic international law and order, we do not have freedom from war, from economic oppression, or environmental pollution. If it is democratically chosen with sufficient checks and balances, an international governing body, and only an international governing body, can insure global democracy and a healthy earth for all. The present United Nations is not such a body, but it is a beginning. The US should at least support an International Criminal Court. Without common security I donâ??t think national, regional, state, and local governments can operate properly. National governments are being asked to do what they are incapable of. This hinders their ability to do in an adequate manner what they were created for.
A companion to democratic international law and order is global economic democracy, global economic equity, global economic freedom. Without global economic democracy we will not achieve or maintain global political democracy. Global political democracy is not enough to insure basic freedom. Indeed genuine global political democracy is not possible without global economic democracy. If only a few control the means of production, those few will also control politics. In global democracy the people need to be able to make the crucial policy decisions now made by the few concerning global warming, bioengineered seed, and allocation of resources.
Global economic democracy could take many forms. At the very least it would mean that each human person would have the minimum essentials to be human. Eventually it would mean widespread local ownership of the factories and farms. I think the principle of subsidiarity needs to be followed in the economic as well as the political sphere. This would result I believe in much more local community ownership of the means of production rather than large, overly centralized conglomerates. Economies of scale would dictate regional, national, and international economic entities only when the principle of subsidiarity is followed. We donâ??t go to a higher level of government unless that higher level is necessary. We should not go to higher economic unit unless a larger unit is appropriate. The communications media, sources of energy, the oceans and natural resources of the earth should be owned in common.
Without the many forms of active non-violence, we will not reach or maintain genuine peace, basic human rights, widespread ownership of the means of production or democratic international law. New structures and new values will work only if we work at it. Education is a key. Being intelligent, thoughtful citizens is a key. If enough people really want global democracy, it will happen. Thereâ??s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. If we are lazy or fatalists, our attitude will become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and nothing will happen to stop our present slide toward selfishness and indifference. We need a revolution of consciousness!
I think each element of a revolution of values is necessary. Promoting one without the other wonâ??t work. If we put the elements of a radical change together, we can have global democracy. If thereâ??s any defect in my vision, I feel it is too conservative and minimal. I think we expect too little of ourselves.
Global democracy is certainly an intellectual problem. Itâ??s also a spiritual problem. Although the forces of evil outside us and within us are enormous, nothing is impossible if we are open to Godâ??s grace. Where sin abounds, there grace does more abound. We need a vision. We also need a way to the vision. Communities of faith and action can lend support, moderation, analysis and prayer. Ignatian spirituality can help small groups to assimilate our past, be more genuinely present, and see better toward the future. These small groups can then communicate their vision to the larger community.
Despite the opportunities offered by an ever more serviceable technology, we are simply not willing to pay the price of a more just and more humane society. . . Injustice is rooted in a spiritual problem, and its solution requires a spiritual conversion of each one's heart and a cultural conversion of our global society so that human kind, with all the powerful means at its disposal, might exercise the will to change the sinful structures afflicting our world. . . We need a sustained interdisciplinary dialogue of research and reflection, a continuous pooling of expertise. The purpose is to assimilate experiences and insights according to their different disciplines in a 'vision of knowledge which, well aware of its limitations, is not satisfied with fragments but tries to integrate them into a true and wise synthesis'" ( Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., spiritual leader of the Society of Jesus, Address at Santa Clara University, October, 2000. to the twenty-eight Jesuit universities in the US.)
What is your own present vision of what it would take to have the minimum essentials of a global democracy? Do you have a way of proceeding toward that goal? Are you willing to pay the price of a more just and more humane global society?
Fr. Benjamin J. Urmston, S.J. http://www.xavier.edu/frben