27 January 2015
Wendt & Kolvenbach
Wendt creates a society in his novel, Black Rainbow, in which people must lay out their entire past for their government. They must detail every bit of it for the Tribunal, and allow themselves to be scrutinized for what is believed to be the greater good. In exchange for their honesty, they have the potential to become an ideal citizen, allowing them to have access to seemingly anything they could want in the world. Truth is equated to freedom and superior in this society. However, this system seems to present a bit of a grey area. It can be contested whether anyone can truly know themselves if they give up ownership of their past. A person’s past actions define the way in which they will act and perceive things in the future. Without this responsibility and knowledge, the people of this society become a tool of their superiors more than anything else.
The Jesuits speak quite a bit about the idea of cura personalis, or care for the whole person. Kolvenbach, in his piece The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education, defines the mission of teachers as “to tirelessly seek the truth and to form each student into a whole person of solidarity who will take responsibility for the real world” (Kolvenbach 35). In short, it is incredibly important to examine the whole self in order to become a better man or woman for others. This is the sort of inner and personal journey that the main character in Wendt’s novel experiences; the real nature of his travel in the story is reflective, and his inner journey is able to transform him.
This is the importance of knowing and understanding a person as a whole. Not as an idealized version of themselves, nor as only the parts of themselves that they want to reveal. As a history minor, I study plenty of events from the past that many people would like to forget. However, it’s important to know where humanity as a whole came from, as well as individuals. People need to seek the truth, in all its forms, so that we may understand why certain terrible things happen. A reflective journey into the past can be painful for some, but it is important to take responsibility for both the positive and negative aspects of ourselves so that we are not doomed to repeat our mistakes. No one person can truly be immortal or untouchable, and by facing the ugliness of human nature head-on, we can learn to become better people for the future.