Core Decorum: community

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Illustration courtesy of Cecilia Lang.

Evelyn Waugh writes in “Brideshead Revisited” that, “to know and love one other human being is the root of all wisdom.”

As believers, we have faith in God’s love. As human beings, we all desire love, whether it be love of friendship, romantic love or the love of a parent for his child. We believe that, because God created us and sent his son to die for us out of love, we participate in that aspect of God’s nature as we are made in his image and likeness.

But, as Waugh points out, there is a greater element to love than simply giving and receiving affection.

Loving another person unconditionally, as God exhorts us to do with our neighbors, generates greater wisdom than any intellectual pursuit can attain.

God’s love, which is the model for all human love, is innately sacrificial and self-effacing. Truly loving another person is one of the only things we experience as human beings that brings together every part of our bodies and souls and unites them in pursuit of something profoundly good.

Unfortunately, because we are human, there will always be a certain amount of pain that comes with loving someone.

However, this pain is a necessary part of the wisdom to which Waugh refers. We gain wisdom and patience through suffering.

Suffering because of selfless love is the purest kind.

Selfless love, moreover, is at the heart of any true community. The Latin word “communitas,” from which we derive our word “community,” contains a broader meaning than our translation of it. “Communitas” refers to the spirit of the community itself, a group of equal or like-minded individuals that are united in a common pursuit of a beautiful idea.

The University of Dallas is more of a community than most universities in America today because we have all come together in one place with the common purpose of gaining a unique type of education ‒‒ that of acquiring knowledge for its own sake.

Because we are a true community, in this sense of the word, we share an unconscious bond with every other student or faculty member who also believes in the values of this university, which so many have dedicated their lives to cultivating.

Therefore, we of all people ought to consciously embrace and demonstrate the selfless love that forms the heart of our community, be it in small acts of kindness or in open-minded conversation.

Not only will this foster a greater love for the community itself, but every one of us will grow both in wisdom and in love as a result.

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