Friday, May 6, 2016

The Witness of Daniel Berrigan and the Rest of Us

Daniel Berrigan died over the week-end.  I think of him as shaping my theories of social justice and Christianity, although it was through the way he lived his life rather than through his writing.

I think of the ways that I've tried to live my life as witness.  It hasn't been as flamboyant as the ways that the Berrigan brothers lived their lives.  We can't all be dumping blood on government records  and nuclear warheads, after all.

Tuesday night, my spin class was cancelled, so I headed home.  Our Comcast service is disrupted again, this time the phone, not the Internet.  So I called and requested that my bill be reduced to reflect that I only had a half month of service--this was granted.  My spouse grilled the fish, and we headed to the porch for supper.

What a delight.  My spouse is finishing up a semester of teaching Ethics at the community college, and he's been having a great time.  We talked about how teaching Humanities in general, Ethics specifically, is the most important subject, about how the Humanities teaches students how to live an honorable life.  I like to think that our work is as important as the work of the Daniel Berrigan, although it's a different type of work in some ways.

And let me just contemplate this:  our work might impact more people in the end than the more flamboyant social justice demonstrating.  In so many different settings, we have both worked with students who come from a disadvantaged place in society--education may be their best shot at a better life, and we have helped.

In these later years, I've worried about the amount of debt that students take on as they work towards this better life.  I've worried about being part of the system that enslaves the modern student.

I suspect that Daniel Berrigan would lecture me about how I am complicit and therefore must make different choices.  I think of students who need more people like me, people who care about their success and want to help them through.

Ah, living the moral life--it's not as easy as my 19 year old self thought it would be.

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