BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA
THIS is a big challenge in educating young people. We need to make sure that all the classes and lessons imparted are taken in seriously, and are properly assimilated by the students, and not just learned superficially and mechanically.
That is to say, that the lessons are made their very own also. These lessons should become their convictions which should shape their lives—their thoughts, desires, words and deeds—in a manner that is fully free and responsible.
They just don’t think, desire, say and do things by blindly obeying a certain authority or ideology or, worse, a certain vague impulse or urge that can come from mere instincts or feelings, or from external pressures.
They should do things with convictions, with full freedom and responsibility, and they should be willing to face whatever consequences their deeds may have, favorable or unfavorable.
Of course, we have to understand that true inner freedom can only come from one’s relation with God. Without God, any understanding of freedom is always suspect. It can happen that people can act with an appearance of acting in convictions and still miss the point.
This can happen with intelligent, talented and privileged people who can know a lot of things and can form some strong beliefs, but still would not be acting properly. Some of words of St. Paul can describe this phenomenon graphically. He said people can hold “the form of religion but deny the power of it.” Or they are “always learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim 3,5&7)
Of course, this duty of fostering the inner freedom of people, especially the young, will take time. But it should be pursued without let-up, clear from the beginning about what is to be accomplished and also about the steps to be taken to achieve it.
We should never get distracted from this goal, and should install all the means that can assure that this goal is being pursued. The means can be, on the part of educators, like parents and teachers, a regular examination of conscience, and some indicators to determine if some progress is made in this regard.
The idea is to avoid making people robots who just do things mechanically or superficially, without convictions, or people with some appearance of convictions that ultimately are not grounded and oriented properly, but are merely subjective. This latter case is trickier to discern and to handle, but we should be ready for this eventuality.
Obviously, we can somehow know that certain progress is achieved because the youngsters behave more responsibly and maturely, and they can handle different situations, including setbacks and failures, properly. Even externally, there can be signs like a serene, cheerful and confident disposition.
Definitely, people who act with inner freedom would always show charity, empathy and compassion, patience and fortitude, self-restraint and moderation. They would have more balanced and stable dispositions, and always optimistic.
Educators should regularly assess whether they are doing their job properly in fostering inner freedom in the youth of today, so taken now by merely technocratic, mechanical and routine attitude toward life in general.