Another fall in Irving is here and so too is another Charity Week. Of the myriad of strange happenings on campus, perhaps none is stranger than the phenomenon occurring on Thursday and Friday of the week: students pay to avoid the classes for which they have already paid.
Before I continue, I want the reader to know that I don’t intend to criticize this sacred tradition. I intend, rather, to challenge the intention of every happy-go-lucky participant in the Charity Week festivities. Does Charity Week become just another University of Dallas quirk? Another check on the list of Crusader programming? Or does it become an opportunity to care?
The charities benefiting from this year’s Charity Week are Project Ultrasound, Chromosome 18 and Heifer International — a pro-life organization, a medical research fund and a sustainable economic growth project. These three organizations address the spectrum of human concern, from the sanctity of life and value of suffering to the basic need for sustenance. This combination should give us an opportunity to reflect on the delicacy of life and the value of the person. It should also make each of us ask ourselves:
“Do I care?”
Martin Heidegger speaks about care as definitive of the human person, his dasein or particular experience of being. The idea is that the person is essentially involved in the world. The person lives with others, interacts with others, is faced with material and personal concerns. All this contact requires that the person care about the things with which he is involved. To not care would be abnormal, alarming, a perversity.
I worry that our little UD community might become susceptible to a lack of care. This is not from an abnormality, but from simply a lack of involvement. The UD Bubble is often spoken about in jest, but it is a real phenomenon. Does Heifer International become for us more imminent than just some 501(c)3 in Arkansas to whom we send a check? Does Edwards syndrome become more personal to us than a mere textbook abnormality of the 18th chromosome?
On a local level, do the poor of Irving become anything more than a spectacle on the side of the road during a weekly run to Joe’s Coffee Shop? Do the grief and racial tension felt in Dallas since this summer’s shooting grab our attention any more than any other bit of national news?
I ask these questions rhetorically because I honestly do not know the answer. I pray that each may be answered with a resounding, “Yes, we feel the pain in each instance and in each instance we care.”
Knowing the quality and heart of the UD student, I know that can be the answer. The tradition of Charity Week would not be possible if it did not grow in a community that boldly cares.
So take that care and enjoy all the festivities of Charity Week: run around like a madman with a water gun, bribe a jailer with a fistful of dollar bills, sing proudly (and off-key) at Karaoke TGIT and then, when the week is over, open up our little community to a deeper involvement that will foster further care.