COLUMN: Prove We Are All BC
Published: Monday, December 9, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 16:12
Those who know me know that I’m against fighting. I think that rather than using violence, we’re called to speak out against injustice. But I’m afraid that those words can hurt too, so this isn’t going to be easy for me to say—but I swear I say it only because I love this campus and every person on it. The scary thing about injustice is that it can disguise itself as something so seemingly good. Case in point: the Facebook page “Faces of Faith, Spirituality, & Humanity at Boston College.”
I love the idea of the page. It says it’s about how “The beauty of life is that there isn’t one definition of success or happiness. Everybody has a story to share.” Diversity, universality, beauty—right on, man. I can dig all that.
But as I sat scrolling through the page, I recognized a suspicious amount of those “random” faces of BC life. That person was on Arrupe, that person was in 4Boston, that person was an orientation leader. The people are all examples of a BC that is wonderful and perfect. Take a random person walking through the Quad and they might not talk about magis and discernment. That’s not to say that the “faces” didn’t give amazing answers, because a lot of them truly inspired me, but it’s not an honest picture of the complete humanity and diversity at BC. They’re the type of person BC seems to want you to see and, frighteningly, seems to want you to be—molded by PULSE, three different culture clubs, and a heartbreaking Fishbowl revelation during 48Hours. The page makes them seem cloying and typical, not the uniquely gifted and flawed people they all are. For all the talk this page—and BC in general—does about diversity, it falls devastatingly short in action.
If the creator chose students at random, he or she could capture a more honest portrait of spiritual life on campus. Perhaps it wouldn’t fit as well into this idea around campus that I like to call “successful spirituality”—as if it were a competition—but it would show the truth, and that’s more important.
It’s more than just this page—it’s BC in general. There are just these things that we accept because it’s part of our culture. Buzzwords, for example: discernment, affirmation, realness, solidarity, presence, magis—the list goes on. We constantly throw them around, and they become devoid of meaning. This carelessness with words makes spirituality at BC so hard. It’s as if being spiritual or having faith requires knowing the right words, leaving little support—besides the common declaration that we are accepting of everyone—for those who speak differently. In creating that environment we are really encouraging silence.
If we’re going to talk about faith, spirituality, and humanity, I might as well bring up Jesus. He went to the people on the margins. He celebrated the humanity of the sick, forgotten, blind, hungry, lonely, and poor. His vision was one of justice, love, and friendship—yet, so often at BC, we talk of spirituality in this self-congratulatory way. It’s like we pat ourselves on the back for being discerning and reflective. The forgotten and lonely are right down the hall, though. They’re the freshman who got rejected from every single club, the girl too afraid to talk about the guy who assaulted her, and the kid who can only be honest on a drunken Saturday night. We celebrate the kind of people who we think have found “spiritual success” so much that we ignore the suffering ones, whose voices we truly need to hear.
I get caught up in BC success too. I’m a 4Boston leader, I’ve done Arrupe, I’ve gone on Kairos. But what I learned from these things is never to be silent when you know something is wrong. That’s not love. Love is not exclusionary and it cannot be measured by success. It’s only the right done to others, and we could definitely use more of that.
We always say that we are all BC.
I say prove it.