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The most foundational belief of Catholic Social Teaching is the belief in the sanctity and dignity of all human life. This foundational belief then manifests itself in how we choose to structure our civil, educational, and personal communities. When we focus on these two aspects of humanity – the individual and the community – the two become inseparable. Therefore, whenever we offer charity or justice, we must keep those two factors in mind. No communities can exist without the individual; furthermore, no individual can become truly fulfilled without participation in a community. We must find ways to balance these aspects of human life in order to ensure justice, progress, and hope for every individual. Catholic Social Teaching offers a path for accomplishing this necessary task.
In my life as a Resident Assistant, I must also find this balance between individual growth and community building. One core aspect of this teaching is the call to uphold rights and responsibilities. This pillar of Catholic Social Teaching applies to being an RA in ways both large and small. From roommate conflicts and policy enforcement, to how we act outside of the dorm, a constant struggle between individual wants and community needs always presents itself. At its core, this means I must keep each individual safe both mentally and physically. Beyond these foundational needs, I also strive to have residents think beyond those basic needs and truly consider how specific actions may affect others in a variety of ways. The purpose of this is to promote empathy and bring about a constructive community for all. In order to promote this constructive community, I should consider participating in and offering more social justice opportunities in Schoenfeldt. There are countless ways to serve others and all of them offer the opportunity for individual and community growth.
Social Justice influences community growth by calling individuals to step outside of themselves and into places that need help. These social justice experiences should create a high level of dissonance within those who serve. This dissonance will undoubtedly lead to exponential growth and a great deal of questions about justice. Continued dissonance will cause those who serve to reflect on their beliefs, their own impact on the world, and their place in the communities in which they belong. As an RA, I must offer these opportunities for growth. In doing so, each individual, the community, and the entire world will eventually all benefit from the service and growth provided through these experiences of social justice.
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