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Throughout life, we are constantly learning and applying our knowledge to our world. In second grade, we matured from sneakers with Velcro to laces and learned the lifelong skill of tying our shoes. In seventh grade, we devoutly began pursuing our own interests, practicing sports, art, and computer science in what many consider to be the critical development point in children’s lives. In eleventh grade, we graduated from passenger to driver, taking on the responsibilities of operating a vehicle and running our own errands.. These are only a few milestones of students in our senior year, learning all of these things while building upon fundamental concepts like Algebra and Creative Writing to truly craft our livelihoods. Yet, as a student at a Catholic high school who was rigorously trained in the humanities, I feel as though there is an inherent flaw in contemporary curricula: the neglecting of the human aspect of life.
So, what is “x” and what does it do?
To me, “x” symbolizes a missing variable in our lives, reflecting an inherent gap in our philosophical essence and being that many schools have not addressed. A grave fault, this hole leaves many feeling empty, unable to experience the theological metanoia of the heart and the greatness of true humanity. These subjects which denote human emotion and ethics that establish contemporary thought and also serve to nurture the soul cannot be described by disciplines like Calculus and Spanish. Of course, this is not to diminish the importance of these two as Calculus introduces us to Physics, which enlightens the worldly sciences, and Spanish, which broadens a person’s ability to seek out social interactions as per our natural inclination to socialize. However, it is to suggest that a reevaluation is necessary to train our posterity in the Subject of Logic and perhaps the Subject of Love: Philosophy and Theology respectively. These are the two fields delineated by the missing variable “x.”
In my bedroom lays a poster of Muhammad, Abraham, Jesus Christ and Thales of Miletus above a lit candle with Buddha’s quote that, “Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life,” written beneath. However, as I ponder this quote and extend it to the material I learned at public school, I find that it has merit, elucidating me to the reality that spirituality was never emphasized at these institutions. Instead of classes where I could be taught the ethics of daily life, the school’s limited humanity courses caused many to pursue electives deemed to simply be a “fun class” and nothing more, thereby neglecting the reason for academia: to enlighten and teach. So, based upon Buddha’s teachings, can any of the students in those public institutions be deemed “alive?” After all, without a background in Philosophy and Theology, how can one’s soul flourish and thrive?
As we progress through life, it is necessary to ask ourselves these thought-provoking questions, not only to self-reflect but also to encourage deeper spiritual growth. Interestingly, Pope John Paul II writes about the ideology of fides et ratio, the essential connection between two concepts deemed paradoxical: faith and reason. How faith without reason is the start of superstition, casting away all other facts and disciplines to only follow Theology. And how reason without faith leads to nihilism and relativism, ignoring faith to only follow what are deemed worldly truths. The latter sentiment of this doctrine characterizes how I feel the majority of humanity perceives life at the moment, seeing the world as devoid of spiritual sustenance and meaning due to not being introduced to Philosophy and Theology.
Thus, in this equation of contemporary curricula, I firmly assert that the addition of “x” will revitalize intellectual vitality in educational institutions and inspire students with Ethics, Metaphysics and God to pursue humanitarian initiatives for the betterment of the world. As a Catholic in a world with much strife, I think that Theology and Philosophy will lead to greater harmony in the overall world, giving people perspectives devoted to love so that they many transcend beyond selfish materialism and contribute to society through faith and good works.
So, what is “x” to me?
While many would attest that “x” is simply a letter or the alphabet or the solution to a quadratic equation, I see the inherent symbolism in its representation as something missing from our world. Thus “x” to me describes Theology and Philosophy as the fulfillment of the spirit and catalyst for metanoia so that individuals may turn to their own spirituality with fides et ratio, acknowledging their own humanity while seeking to please their God or improve their Virtue.
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