This priest was eventually able to go to college. During his time in school, he was barely surviving. He slept random places and had people bring him food from the cafeteria. He barely had money, but he with Alexander Hamilton was “not throwin’ away his shot”. He usually shook up the class with arguments. As much as he was against his professors, his professors were never against him. One day he attacked a man. I don’t remember the details of where or how except that he hurt him simply because he wanted to.his professor addressed him about his actions. This professor was one who was never against him, but his devotion to his student’s truest self became evident in his rebuke. As the priest continued his testimony, he described that his professor didn’t condemn him, but judged his actions. He said, “It was worth everything to the professor to give him an experience of something truer.” The professor risked losing the relationship with this student whom he loved in order to give him “an experience of something truer.”
Truth guided the sympathy the professor had for his student, but this truth is not simply the moral law. We have all encountered a person, maybe it is ourselves, who views the moral law as above the person as if the moral law is not the articulation of the good of man. This attitude has negative results, but the priest explained that this encounter was a point of positive change for him. How is this possible? Didn’t his professor put the moral law above mercy for his student who has it rough? Isn’t this flat out inhumane? What did his professor put above their relationship that revealed his greatest care for his student? His sympathy moved him to will his good which meant correction. This is true sympathy and his correction is true love. Truth is the driving factor.
In an article by Mohandas Gandhi, Devotion to Truth, he says the Sanskrit name for Truth is “Satya” which is derived from Sat which means “being”. In the strong and simple Indian way he says, “Nothing is or exists in reality except Truth” (1). The moral law which may come to mind when we think of truth is not above the person, but at the heart of existence itself. All of existence has received existence. You may be a self-made man earning your way through college on pizza rolls and all nighters, to make it into med school and make a difference in the world, but your existence you did not make. There must be a source for existence that is existence itself.
When we consider the moral law and are tempted to put it aside for the sake of a relationship, it may be helpful to consider the moral law’s connection with “being” or existence. The moral law is not in contradiction with the human person, but clarifies reality. The moral law helps extend our vision into the future and heart of reality. The professor could have chosen not to address his student. He could have said to himself, “Look, the guy’s got it tough. He is barely making it. He probably hasn’t eaten or slept. Why knock the guy when he’s already down?” His devotion to the truth, which includes making judgements on actions, led him to press together his student’s decision to beat up a guy and his desire for his student’s well being. It all begins with a devotion to the Truth. This devotion has the potential to change other’s lives.
When the moral law presses upon us like an imposition, it is because we have lost our devotion to the Truth. “Devotion to the Truth gives us the sole justification for our existence” says Gandhi (2). A firm conviction that existence is received and requires an obedience to the form of reality is our only path to freedom.
May we all be like this professor so devoted to the Truth that we make a positive change in another’s life.
1. Mohandas Gandhi, Devotion to Truth, 53 in World Youth Alliance Track A Training.