“The intentional use of the phrase “The Beloved Community” was first coined by philosopher-theologian Josiah Royce and then popularized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King’s beloved community philosophy centered on the belief that racism, bigotry and prejudices will one day be replaced ‘by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood’ and that ‘poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it.’”
Do we have a beloved community here at SCU? Is it our aim to achieve a beloved community? Do Jesuit values align with ideas about this community? How can we accomplish it? Here at the Ethics Center, my team and I have held countless discussions on the reasons why it is important to establish an all-inclusive attitude on campus. I would argue that each and every person strives to be the best person that they can be. That framework may differ from person to person but it may have several similarities within the Jesuit ideology that many of us base and measure ourselves upon. In our short four years in university we generally hope to accomplish a good education that will equip us with skills in the workplace and beyond. I believe that it is critical for us, students at Santa Clara, to leave this institution as well-rounded individuals and leaders capable of sharing a table with someone with opposing viewpoints.
This is the aim of our fellowship. We want dialogue between all types of people. We want to look beyond the multifaceted identities that we wear and embody. We hope to encourage civil discourse and, within that, the ability to freely express yourself without fear of ramification. We hosted our second civic dinner with the hopes of fostering the beloved community. Through small group conversation over pesto penne pasta that most students just want to feel safe. That is a saddening sentiment. Why, in the world that we live in today, do students feel unsafe? Are they physically and spatially vulnerable and insecure? Not necessarily. We each have our own identity and we each embody our experiences, hopes, wishes, and fears. Students feel personally attacked and targeted on the basis of their identities. When blanketed statements target communities of people based on their looks or origin of birth and nationality, they feel individual stress and anxiety brought on by fear and discrimination. This is the foundation for the divisive and polarized world that we live in today. Everyone believes that this experience is isolated and individual yet we all feel this way regardless of our ethnicity, gender, religion, or what have you.
So how can we establish a beloved community? How do we agree upon a standard of human decency? We need to talk. We need to open our ears and minds and listen. Listen to the similarities and the differences- both beautiful and ugly. That is the foundation of civil discourse.
Henderson, F. B., & Louis, B. M. (2017). Black Rural Lives Matters: Ethnographic Research about an Anti‐Racist Interfaith Organization in the US South. Transforming Anthropology, 25(1), 50-67.