The following is an editorial piece reflecting the opinion of The Bell and its staff members and is not affiliated with the administration of Bellarmine College Preparatory in any way.
When a young man enrolls in Bellarmine College Preparatory, he is entering a community whose goal is to transform teenage boys into men who act for and with others, as per the institution’s mission statement. It is up to him, however, to embody and live out that message.
In light of recent events, it is important to remind all students that we are called to seek justice. Each year, Bellarmine holds a Summit on Human Dignity, hosting speakers and breakout sessions throughout the academic year to foster this vocation. In addition to this year’s theme of ‘Care for Our Common Home’ and environmental sustainability, the school has previously begun to approach injustices in our world such as human trafficking and poverty. If our school can remain unified in past Justice Summit themes such as the masculine identity or even the topic of immigration, then our solidarity suggests we are capable as a school to toss aside political agendas and accept others, whether they’re part of the Bellarmine community or not. Next year, the school will be challenged to confront the topic of race, equity and inclusion. We must remind each other as brothers and sisters to follow simple Christian principles and love our neighbors regardless of their ethnicity and background as we love ourselves.
In November, the cultural clubs on campus hosted a discussion in Andrade Theater where the student body was welcome to share how they felt. Those who did not speak in the emotional conversation listened attentively and supported those scared of what the future held and what it could mean for people who were simply trying to survive and make a living in our country. Last year, Pope Francis denounced the vilification of others for being from different countries, religions, and social classes. “God only has sons and daughters. We are the ones who raise walls, build barriers and label people,” he said. If we lived like Christ and followed the teachings of the Church, there would not be an outrageous number of people who are being profiled and persecuted for their race.
Bellarmine’s diversity is a large factor of what makes the community unique and exciting. We would not have the people to lead cultural clubs and host such necessary conversations on campus if their family members were banned from entering the country. Immigrants and people of other races fall under the ‘others’ part of ‘men for and with others’— there are no exceptions to it. Living in ignorance and fear is an option, but welcoming and appreciating other cultures and backgrounds is a far better principle to live by. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must learn to live as brothers or perish as fools.” We must recognize that conservatism cannot exist without liberalism, and liberalism cannot exist without conservatism; the coexistence of opposite identities is essential to who we are as individuals and to our community.
We acknowledge the value behind the freedom of speech and expression. As philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote, “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.” However, in a tumultuous time of dividedness, why use that powerful tool to provoke others? Instead of speaking for the purpose of angering others, why not listen for the sake of learning? Why isolate ourselves in intolerance when we can reach out have a meaningful discussion with someone who holds different opinions from ourselves? We must recognize that there are different avenues for expressing one’s opinion, and saying or doing something that deliberately causes harm is not an acceptable means to convey that opinion. Everyone deserves a voice, but that voice has no impact if we shield ourselves from others.
Bellarmine does its best to get students to recognize that by holding several Diversity Weeks throughout the year and sending dozens of students on immersions to a variety of countries through the nearly twenty trips offered. Additionally, the school’s administration has been working with cultural clubs on campus to provide opportunities for discussion on sensitive situations. There is no place for intolerance on our campus, or even being a bystander to it. Justice cannot occur in one day; it is a common goal that has to be worked towards by all, regardless of whether or not a specific incident affects you as an individual. If you decide not to take the Jesuit message of standing in unity with your fellow humans despite their age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and race to heart, you may attend Bellarmine College Preparatory, but you are not a Bell.