By Paul Stark, S.J.
Vice President for Mission and Ministry
In our modern world, we are challenged daily by the diversity of peoples and cultures. Our ordinary response for these differences is often that we strive to recognize others and their differences in what seems to be passive acceptance. We try to make the best of all the differences we can.
Cultural research informs us that human beings often find people or things different from their own experiences as being at least suspect, if not detrimental.
Because mission really does matter, St. Ignatius and his worldview challenge this position. His concept of God as present in all parts of our world opens to us to perceive diversity in a more positive, a more active, perspective. The differences we face are not threats, but invitations to understand more deeply ourselves, the world and the immensity of God.
Diversity becomes a gift that enhances our limited experiences, calling and enabling us to move beyond those mental walls into a better and more expansive experience and knowledge of truth. The bothersome differences of people and cultures become the means for us to move beyond the edges of our boxes so we might have a real possibility of “thinking-outside-the-box.” Ignatius called us to seek and see God in all things, all people, all situations, in – and out of – the box.
At SLU, we can not only celebrate diversity as inevitable, but also, and more, as a blessing, a gift given to us to understand and live our mission. The truth lies outside our own experiences and perspectives, and so we need and depend on learning from others’ viewpoints to advance our own and others’ understanding. One tenet of recent and considerable research tells us that the more varied our observations an experiences, the more reliable our knowledge.
Ignatius calls all of us at Saint Louis University to go far beyond ourselves and each other, as we seek a better understanding of the other…whoever, wherever and whatever that might be. Today we can begin to answer his call.
For more information about mission programs at SLU, visit the Division of Mission and Ministry website.