Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
I began service as a freshman in high school, while attending Fairfield College Preparatory School. Fairfield prep, for short, is a Jesuit high school on the ground of Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut. While reading Kolvenbach’s speech “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education,” I was able to relate to it, and achieved new insights on my own past service experiences. Then, after reading “Mending Wall,” “Learning to Read” and “Accident, Mass. Ave.,” I was able to tie both my previous service experiences and Klovenbach’s speech to literature than seemed to me previously unconnected.
Klovenbach’s speech “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education” discuses the Jesuit’s desire to educate the whole person. Klovenbach feels that the only way a student’s whole person can be educated is through action, this action he calls “The Promotion of Justice.” Klovenbach realizes that a Jesuit University’s measure of success doesn’t just lie in the success of the students, but rather it lies in the success of humanity. Klovenbach want the capstone of a Jesuit education to be a commitment to serve the unfortunate and the oppressed, so that students will learn that they have an obligation to their neighbors.
“Mending Wall” by Robert Frost is a poem that explores the relationship between two neighbors who share a wall that then mend every spring. The narrator’s neighbor states, “Good fences make good neighbors” (Meyer 360). However, the neighbor doesn’t provide a reason he just reiterates his point. Frost as a writer is attempting to shed light on the daunting task of being a good neighbor. Frost wants us to realize that good fences do not make good neighbors, rather neighbors that are unconnected. Frost is tries to construe that being unconnected from one’s neighbor detracts from one’s own humanity and life. Frost’s theme underlies Klovenbach’s speech; Klovenbach want us to connect with the poor and the needy, which are our neighbors on earth. Both Frost and Klovenbach come to the conclusion that when we are unconnected from our neighbors we loose part of our humanity.
“Learning to Read” by Frances E. W. Harper details the experience of a sixty year old, newly liberated, African America in the South. Harper explains that teachers from the North came down and set up schools even though the white southerners were against it. Eventually, Harper learns how to read and feels independent and jolly about his newfound skill. This poem gives insight into those whom Klovenbach would want to help, those who are less fortunate. Klovenbach speaks, “[Students] should learn to perceive, think, judge, choose and act for the rights of others, especially the disadvantaged and the oppressed” (Klovenbach 35). In harpers poem, Klovenbach would want us to be the teachers coming from the north to help our oppressed neighbors.
“Accident, Mass. Ave.” by Jill McDonough depicts a car accident that occurs on the streets of Boston. After the accident occurs, both drivers step out of their cars, and the narrator starts cursing at the person that hit her. Eventually, both individuals realize that no damage occurred, and they are both dumbstruck. The poem ends with the motorist whose fault the accident was breaking down into tears, and the narrator hugging her till she feels all right. The theme of this poem illuminates as to what will happen if we keep treating our neighbors poorly; our neighbors will not want to be our neighbors anymore. Klovenbach does not want us to just curse off our neighbors, but rather embrace them as the narrator does at the end of the poem.
All four of these pieces of literature tie into the service I performed at my Jesuit high school. While performing service at first seemed like a misuse of time, a passionate urge to help quickly grew. Through service I became more aware of my own good fortune and realized that I could not turn a blind eye to those that were oppressed and suffering. This urge strengthened my humanity and allowed me to experience more of life. It also led me here to Loyola, where we embody Klovenbach’s speech every day with our commitment to service.
Klovenbach, Peter-Hans. The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education. Chicago: Loyola, 2008. Print.
Meyer, Michael. Poetry: An Introduction. Boston: Bedford/St.Martins, 2013. Print.