May 13, 2011
Saint Ignatius College Prep has likely been my most enjoyable form of education I have experienced throughout my life. SICP was founded on the moral principles promoted by Saint Ignatius of Loyola himself, and with the ideals praise, reverence, and service to God and others in mind. I have exemplified these moral highs have in a multitude of ways.
For example, I have been open to growth as I have participated in more clubs this year, attended senior Kairos, spoke to, and became friends with more people than in past years, deliberately enrolled myself in courses I knew would be challenging, yet would pay off in the long run, and decided to become more extroverted, pushing the boundaries of my "comfort zone", as it were. By my own accord, this "comfort zone" has been intentionally violated many times in hopes to result in growth and further maturity.
I have demonstrated academic competence through the numerous difficult courses I intentionally chose to enroll myself in for my final year at Saint Ignatius. However, more specifically, I have noticed a palpable difference in terms of my level of maturity when participating in in-class discussions. I am more apt to mention relevant evidence to support my position, and have truly honed my rhetorical skills. I can recall being a large-vocabulary-word-wielding sophomore who thought he could easily conquer any debate with ease simply on the basis of the size of his vocabulary. My American History class was instrumental in me realizing that this was in fact not the case. Due in part to the number of boys, and consequently, the few number of girls in that particular class, the classroom atmosphere could be likened to a frathouse. I would be scoffed at whenever I would attempt to make an unnecessarily long-winded and eloquent point. This lead me to conclude the briefer my point, the more concise my choice of words, the more likely it was my message would be listened to. I now sense my capacity to not say too little, nor say too much using an unnecessary level of vocabulary and sound overly pompous in the process.
I look back on my time spent at Saint Ignatius indiscriminate from my extra-curricular activities. I remember spending $1200 on a 1989 BMW 325is this past December, and look back on it without regrets. This car was more of learning experience than anything else. I worked on this car throughout much of the winter in my father’s cold, spare hangar, desperately relying on a torpedo heater for my livlihood. Throughout the project, I was giddy with excitement, contemplating the dream car it would soon be. During the winter months, I worked night and day in hopes of eventually achieving such a dream. I took the car apart until there was nothing left to the body other than its bare metal. In doing so, however, I came to realize that this Craigslist purchase wasn’t nearly what it had initially seemed. Rampant cases of rust were almost everywhere to be seen below the car’s now-removed fenders and interior carpeting. Rust holes the size of tennis balls graced the floorboards, while rust on the frame had already done its worst, spreading like cancer. My father and I took the car to a not-so-local, yet supposedly honest and reliable body shop in Palatine, IL, A & L Body. After arriving, one of the shop’s employees came to my father and me and told us that the cost of fully restoring the car would be $11,000, well over our budget, and for that matter, the price of the car itself! In the long run, we decided we would search for a new body for the car, as the engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, etc. are all in working order. As I said previously, I recount these memories without regret or dismay, or don’t think of the money that was perhaps “wasted”. Rather, I remember the lessons I learned. Money can be earned again, [although with considerable difficulty at my young age] but lessons are priceless. By dealing with all the turmoil involved in this project, I can at least say I know all the ins-and-outs of the BMW.
I have been religious by being committed to attend Mass regularly, by treating each person I come into contact with with the dignity and respect he or she deserves, and by donating sometimes new and unwanted or old and unused clothing. I have participated in innumerable debates with friends who claim they are Atheists and have defended the Catholic faith with everything I have learned over the past three years during my time at SICP. I have made my religion my own, as I pray nightly, and have learned to be in closer contact with God. I am not afraid to mention my horrible deeds to a priest for reconciliation. I will be sure to seek repentance for whatever I do, no matter how embarrassing, personal, or natural one may argue for it to be. I vow to never intentionally do anything wrong or destructive, but despite this, I am aware that I will never be perfect as Jesus was, and that I will sometimes falter. But I know that the difficulty of making mistakes and learning to forgive yourself and forgive others from petty and grave deeds alike is an all-encompassing aspect of the human condition, life and existence. I have remained vigilant to keep drug-, alcohol-, and sexual intercourse-free, as I intend to resist any and all temptations friends or acquaintances may present to me. I am fully aware that life can be enjoyed just as easily without the use of substances, and I believe that it is foolish for teens to think it is acceptable, by any means, to take drugs, drink alcohol, or have premarital sex simply so that it may aid in their pursuit to “enjoy life”.
Life is about the struggle it involves, the way of getting around Hedonistic pleasures in favor of serving God, others, and the environment above all things. If life is enjoyable and pleasurable all the time, and all that you continually seek and participate in is pleasure and enjoyment, what are you gaining? What are you learning? And you clearly aren’t learning from your mistakes if you are constantly pleasure-seeking, and are resistant to changing. You also fail to grasp the true, exuberant joys of life that only can come about after struggle or turmoil, the struggles that question your identity and core values. If you are afraid to put yourself up to that challenge without the beer and cigarettes at your side and be vulnerable, you are afraid to live.
I am loving through my commitment to serve others before myself. When driving, I allow people to change lanes in front of me, in the checkout lane, I allow others to go ahead of me. And while these may seem more quotidian examples, I try to make people feel special whenever I am in social contact with him or her. No matter my state of mind, my face will light up to greet someone; whether it's a friend, acquaintance, teacher, or as it happens, total stranger. I feel I am adequately loving in that I give people a sense of being through my greetings and conversations that always emphasize the other person over myself.
I am committed to justice through my devotion to follow Christ. Just as Christ was an egalitarian, I try to be as well. Despite race, gender, age, religion, origin, or any other sort of demographic quality that may, in some cases, be used to discriminate and ridicule others in arbitrary and cruel ways, I maintain that all of mankind's parts are equal. Each have certain strengths and weaknesses, although never should those weaknesses be explicitly exposed by another or an outside party in an attempt to ridicule or condemn. Rather, we should elevate the poor, and down-trodden to a level that matches with our own comfortable lifestyle that doesn't force us to constantly worry where our next meal will be from, or what maneuvers to pursue in order to avoid forms of discrimination.
In some cases, horrifyingly, it has become the status quo, or common practice to discriminate others or make assumptions based on demographic qualities. We must continually interrupt those perpetrators mid-sentence, and definitively tell him or her that such an act is wrong, not be hesitant to receive the flak in return, and be willing to unending stand up to the thousands of “bullies” found throughout the world. Because we must respect all life, and treat one another as we may treat God himself.
In God's name we pray, amen.