Thursday, March 31, 2016

Reflection Paper: Fr. Arrupe's Men (and Women) for Others

Here is my paper on Fr. Arrupe's Men (and Women) for Others. This is a requirement for TSETHICS class of AGSB - Regis under Prof. Manny Dy. This is purely my thoughts and you have every right to disagree. =)

The inspirational teachings of Fr. Pedro Arrupe have left a mark in history that spurred a following. In particular, his address on educating “men (and women) for others” has invited people to three things: 1) Live simply; 2) Draw no profit from unjust source; and 3) Change unjust structures. These three attitudes are in essence very applicable to our daily lives, especially in our workplace. In fact, considering today’s fast-paced lifestyle, we could definitely use them to help us realize that sometimes, we need to take a deep breath, and just step back in order to not get caught in the tidal wave of technology and evolution.

For me, to live simply signifies to live within my means. That is, to be contented with what I have and be happy with my life. Often, people fall victim to the debate of “what I want” versus “what I need.” Without any self-control, it usually becomes what-I-want-I-get. I’ve had my fair share of spending a lot on items that I don’t need. When I look back, I deeply regret going with the flow when I should have made sound investments.

Living beyond my means actually made me yearn for more material things. Instead of investing in relationships and long-term goals, I found myself getting stuck in my world of narcissism and self-appreciation. At some point, I would much rather please other people rather than do things for my own growth. This materialistic behavior led me to thirst for more money – complaining about my current job and about not getting paid correctly even if I actually am. I thought of my job as a means to an end, and as such, I have developed a negative attitude towards what I’ve been doing. I detested waking up and going to work, even though I’ve always been passionate about the field I entered.

Today, I realize that I should have taken the path of living simply years ago. I was probably looking at myself too much that I failed to look at what’s around me. I should have given other people the appreciation and respect they deserve, because they are not instruments to be used for my own personal greed. In my workplace, for example, my co-workers are not just pawns to achieve goals, but are comrades fighting the same battles as I do. Having colleagues that I respect and appreciate makes me enjoy my work even more.

Living simply is related to the second attitude of drawing no profit from unjust sources. Logically speaking, if you live simply and you are already contented, you will no longer desire for anything and therefore no longer need additional resources. Without the craving for worldly things, there is also no temptation to look for risky and unjust sources. Some people resort to illegal activities and immoral acts just to be able to satisfy their needs. The need creates the demand, and where there is high demand, supply would also be high.

In my current state, I should learn to be content so that I won’t need to crave for more. As I grow in my career, I want to enjoy my work and possibly excel in it, and so I must stop thinking of my job as merely just a source of income. In addition, I should look at other people as human beings with intellect and will and their own personality, and not just another means where I could generate profit. As Fr. Arrupe said, “To be drugged by the comforts of privilege is to become contributors to injustice as silent beneficiaries of the fruits of injustice.”

Finally, the third attitude involves not only the self and the surrounding people, but rather the community. In truth, the modern lifestyle of “get rich or die trying” has become so rampant. I find it difficult for people to actually get out of it, especially when they have been immersed so deep. That is why changing unjust structures is probably the most difficult. For me, change does not happen overnight. It is a continuous process and it requires a lot of effort. When I finally decided to change my lifestyle, it took me a lot of sacrifice and self-discipline, and a lot of help from the people around me. When I was successful in changing myself for the better, I inspired some of my friends and co-workers to do the same thing. This led me to conclude that in order for society to change, it has to start within the self. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” The change has to start within the person, and the decision to do so should not just be for the own person’s growth but rather for the society. Imagine, if everyone changed for the better, where every person hopes for nation building, the corrupt society will be transformed into one that exudes peace and harmony.

Living the three attitudes can be a challenge, but I believe it can be done. The unifying factor that binds these three together is actually – Love. Living simply transforms self-interest into a much greater purpose, and eliminates the need for resorting to unjust sources to fuel unnecessary desires. Love creates a chain reaction where people become agents of change in society. We all just have to remember that everything starts within us, and that we need a firm resolve to become the catalysts of change.

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