“Joe Talks” -- College
As we’ve traveled, I’ve talked at a good number of colleges and universities. And at these different schools, I’ve talked about a good number of different things. The goal, often, was to get these young adults to think about things in, well, a different way.
For instance, at a Theology class at Xavier University, I asked how many of the students shopped at WalMart. Many of them said they did because, among other things, most of them saw themselves as “poor college students.”
“Not in any way as poor as the people in, say, China or Indonesia, who are working for next to nothing in deplorable sweatshop conditions – so you can have all your cheap items,” I said. And I followed up with suggesting ways these college students, and many others in our society, could ramp up social justice help to the poor of these other countries.
At St. Leo College in Florida, I told these “poor college students” that while they were walking in and out of an elaborate all-you-can-eat cafeteria three times a day – elsewhere in the world 24,000 people starve to death every day, and billions of people live one meager one bowl of rice, or less, a day.
And, well, is it enough to be grateful in America – or should we be cutting back way more, and helping way more? I told them my bet was on the latter, and our administration foreign policy would reflect that, in spades!
Then during a talk at the University of Notre Dame, which was sponsored by the Center for Social Concerns there, I said one of the places our administration would be looking to cut back is the military. That is, for instance, we spend $50 billion a year just to maintain our nuclear arsenal to, for one, stay as protected as possible – in the face of massively widespread and catastrophic worldwide hunger, disease, abysmal Third World slum conditions…
During a talk at LaGrange College in Georgia, I said some of those slums were in Juarez, Mexico, where we did some research. Poverty, hunger, drug cartel violence that is almost off the charts… And we’re trying to stop parents and children desperately trying to flee all of this? C’mmon!
I also added that earlier in the week, I’d met with a group of newly arrived Hispanic immigrant parents and their children at the Alterna Community in LaGrange. I listened to their harrowing stories, saw the fear in their eyes… And I promised that as president – I’d push to help them feel as welcome as possible in this country.
As I would work to help make farm workers, both legal and illegal, feel as welcome as possible as well.
During a talk to a graduate history class at Toledo University, I said whether legal or illegal, I would work exhaustively to get way better pay, benefits, working conditions… for farm workers and their families. I said it would only make sense, common sense, that farm workers were on a societal par with, say, white collar workers.
I mean after all, I said, the farm workers help provide what is tremendously important in regard to the “stuff of life.” That is: food.
Big deal if these farm workers don’t have college degrees (in regard to pay compensation). Does anyone really think God cares about that? I asked.
But God might ‘care about’ an engineering student we met at the University of Dayton. This young man was a junior. The previous summer he decided not to go for a high paying summer job in his field, opting instead to do volunteer work with Ethos Engineering to help the poor in Guatemala.
What’s more, he’s in the “Chaminade Program” at Dayton. This is a stream to help students understand their careers in the scheme of “vocation.” What a better country it would be, I said during the speech at Dayton U., if more people looked at their careers that way. And for that matter, what a better world it would be.
I mentioned this, too, during a talk to a Christian Response to Global Concerns class at Holy Cross College in Indiana. And more, I said while we were on the topic of “global concerns,” the Catholic Church had recently outlined a new category of sin in an increasingly global society.
One of these new sins, I explained, revolved around environmental stewardship. That is, one’s energy gluttony in America can lead to an exorbitant release of global warming gases that can, for instance, cause drought, famine, super-charged typhoons… in other parts of the world.
I said our administration would view this situation through somewhat of the same lens. That is, America is, indeed, tremendously energy gluttonous at this point and stringent measures need to be taken to curb this, quick!
And shortly after 9/11, I told students at Heidelberg University in Ohio that it is crucial that America stop polluting the world with its spiritually corrosive media / entertainment. Citing a USA Today newspaper article at the time, I said parents in these other countries, like say in the Middle East, are watching aghast as our movies, and TV in general, are helping erode sexual mores and respect for adults. Likewise, our media is fostering tremendously heightened levels of materialism in their youth.
If you couple all this, with the decade long harsh sanctions against Iraq (during the 1990s) that killed almost one million people; our backing of Israel and their ongoing mistreatment of the Palestinian; our exploitation around their oil…
We have to realize the backlash of terrorism toward us – isn’t happening in a vacuum. And as president, I told the Heidelberg students, I’d be focusing a lot on our side of the spiritual street, so to speak.
And at Greenville College in North Carolina, during a talk about “Separation of Church and State,” I said as a Christian business person takes his/her spiritual principles to work – I’d be taking mine to the White House – and I’d be making it clear to the electorate that that’s what they’d be voting for.
The “Founders of America” didn’t want the government co-opting the Church, like what happened in England, but there was absolutely no taboo about a politician, again, bringing spiritual principles to work and pushing for legislation that reflected those principles.
For instance, during the talk at the University of Notre Dame, I said my Catholic faith says “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” And tied to this, the Catholic Church says abortion is “gravely” wrong.
So I would do everything I could as president to stop abortion. You see, you’re either following a “spiritual agenda,” or a “secular agenda.” But either way, you’re following an agenda. Nothing is “neutral.”
I reiterated this during a talk at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. What’s more, I said that the teachings of the Catholic Church are thread throughout my platform because I believe in them that strongly. As I believe in the democratic process…
During a talk to a class at Southern State Community College in Hillsboro, Ohio, I said there should be ample room for Third Party and independent presidential candidates in the election process. Otherwise the electorate becomes subject to this two-party, cookie cutter “groupthink.” And the answers to many of our pressing societal problems might not lie squarely in one particular party’s platform. [And actually, my contention is that neither party is right on all the issues – by a long shot.]
However, what is right we believe is a k-12 education system with a lot more emphasis on service learning. That is, I told students at an education class at Antioch College that we’d like to see as much as one-third of the curriculum being volunteer work out in the community. Mainly because I want children learning as much about helping others as they learn about: reading, writing and arithmetic.
That, I believe, would lay the groundwork for a much saner and much more compassionate America. And it would lay the groundwork for a much saner and much more compassionate world.