We love vacations as much as anyone does. Sometimes we need a break from reality. Yet, we must accept the true reality of the “Justice Matters” curriculum. We must be in solidarity with the poor, the outcasts, the marginalized, and the oppressed as well as be present to the community around us whether it is in Norristown or our hometown, or also our campus community. The essay contest’s prize only separates us even more from the truth.
However, is a $2,500 voucher to any of Apple Vacations’ all-inclusive resorts an appropriate prize for a 250-word essay on social justice? The college and its sponsors seem to think so. Even more offensive is that it is part of a campaign to raise awareness for the new “Justice Matters” curriculum. This endeavor undermines the ideas behind the implementing of a socially conscious curriculum. Additionally, from a Christian perspective, the essay contest and the prize obstructs the motivational good that can be achieved from the “Justice Matters” curriculum. There are more constructive and practical ways of rewarding students for their hard work and their critical observations. For example, some alternatives include the opportunity to go on an immersion experience or receive a scholarship that sponsors match with a donation to a charity. We implore you, the student, to strongly consider your motivation for entering in this contest. Where are the concepts rooted in Jesus’ teaching regarding humility and responsibility?
Working toward real social change is not easy since it requires passion, dedication, and moving out of one’s comfort zone. Real social justice occurs when we engage those at the margins or influence individuals who operate sinful social structures that cause oppression. In order to make this curriculum work, we must take serious our faith tradition, which is rooted in sacred scripture and Jesus’ message. Jesus tells us to practice humility and we look to the Beatitudes for guidance. Jesus calls us to take a position that is difficult to maintain in today’s society if we are working to be a voice for the poor, marginalized, and oppressed.
The “Justice Matters” curriculum invites us to participate in such action and dialogue with humble resolute hearts and minds guided by St. Frances Xavier Cabrini’s model of education, which is an education of the heart. The freshmen and sophomores at Cabrini College are experiencing a transformation of the heart, as they actively become part of the larger community. We are building God’s kingdom on earth by studying, reflecting, and becoming active in standing with the poor, marginalized, and oppressed. We raise their voices and counter the sinful social structures that dominate their respective conditions. We are to communicate the truth, speak out against injustice, and positively contribute to society. Let us support one another and rejoice in each other’s works and as St. Paul says, “Whoever boasts should boast in the Lord” and not the prize for impressing the contest judges (1 Corinthians 1:31). Please stop and think before you enter the contest. How does this accomplish social justice? Who is it really benefiting?
Matt Slutz and Shannon Keough