The Pathway in Pursuing Cura Personalis
Loyola University Maryland was founded by Jesuit priests on the basis of cura personalis – the education of the whole person. Loyola is committed to creating an environment where young adults can strive and achieve both educational and spiritual growth. Rooted in the same fundamental principles, in The Service of Faith and Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J. examines the effect that Jesuit universities and their students can have in promoting justice and serving faith-based communities. Kolvenbach argues that despite modern-day technologies, we are still utterly unaware of solving issues of hunger, homelessness, or horrid living conditions such as abuse. Kolvenbach states, “We can no longer pretend that the inequalities and injustices of our world must be borne as a part of the inevitable order of things” (32). Kolvenbach is calling us, students at a Jesuit university, out to get out in the community and help make a difference. He is stressing that in order to achieve the education of the whole person, cura personalis, we need to enter the greater Baltimore county will an open mind and willingness to help.
It is for this reason why I am excited to begin service at Tunbridge Public Charter School in the coming weeks. Participating in service opens your horizons and you realize how blessed you are and how trivial your problems may seem. I was a member of the National Charity League in high school which is a mother-daughter service organization. One of the programs I participated in was painting of a third grade hallway in an underprivileged area in the New York. We painted with some of the older students and heard their stories and hardships of growing up. Being a similar age as those students made me realize how truly grateful and blessed I am. However, to truly capitalize on the service learning program it is important to enter the situation with an open mind.
Open-mindedness is a concept that is easier in theory than practice. It is human nature to pass judgment on someone even before speaking to them. This concept of discrimination and judging a book by its cover are the connecting themes between Mending Wall by Robert Frost, Accident, Mass. Ave by Jill McDonough, and Learning to Read by Frances E.W. Harper. In the Mending Wall, Frost addresses the emotional and personal barriers we often build up to prevent others from getting close. In American society today, we do not give strangers the opportunity to get to know us, our guard is always up and we are always rushing to finish tasks. Frost writes, “Good fences make good neighbors” (line 45) which brings up the question of boundaries and barriers. Furthermore, in Jill McDonough’s poem Accident, Mass. Ave Jill addresses the issue of acting impulsively without assessing and analyzing the situation before acting. After an minor accident occurred in Boston, the protagonist of the poem thought, “But she lived and drove in Boston, too, she knew, we both knew, that the thing to do is get out of the car, slam the door as hard as you fucking can and yell things” (lines 9-12). Aggression in stressful situations does not have to be the answer. Aggression does not solve problems but rather adds to the complexity of the situation. The theme of open-mindedness also carries through Frances E.W. Harper’s poem Learning to Read. Written in 1872, Harper addresses slavery and discrimination that had polluted our nation’s past. As an elder slave learning to read conveys, “Knowledge did’nt agree with slavery – ‘Twould make us all too wise” (lines 7-8). We should want everyone succeed and want to help anyone who is struggling. Keeping my arms and mind open is one of my goals when doing service at Tumbridge Public Charter School as well as my life in its entirety. The university provides the backbone for undergraduate students to learn, lead, and serve the Loyola community, Baltimore community, and the greater public and it is our job to take advantage of every opportunity.