“Go forth and set the world on fire.”

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“Go forth and set the world on fire.” -St. Ignatius of Loyola.

This quote summons a lot of ambiguous imagery. What does it mean to set the world on fire? Naturally, the image of demolition and devastation comes to mind when we think about setting something on fire. It’s a natural thought, especially given the current state of the world… In the last year, we have felt a dark shadow of turmoil and chaos from the political climate, racial divides and different forms of oppression. So how are we supposed to make meaning out of St. Ignatius’ words?

Perhaps it’s an opportunity to think about injustice in a new way. To think about “setting the world on fire” as a way to shine light on darkness. Sometimes, ruin comes before rebirth. And in a phoenix-like way, out of the ashes arises hope, strength and resilience.

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My name is Lucy Hancock and I am the new Cortina Community Coordinator. As a Creighton alumna, I have always believed in the Jesuit mission and values. Upon graduation, I moved to Hassan, India, to teach in an all-girls, catholic orphanage through Homes of Hope India. That was where it all started for me—where my fire was ignited.

Living and working amidst extreme poverty was the most humbling and heart wrenching thing I have ever done. I quickly discovered the painful realities of my privilege. Initially, as I was struggling to adapt to bathing with a cold bucket of water, malnourished children were begging for rupees in the dirty streets. It didn’t take long to spark my soul and awaken my heart to the need for social justice.

The lotus flower is India’s national flower. It grows only in the dirtiest marshes of water. The root is deep beneath the rocky bottom; but it somehow manages to push its way through the filth and marvelously blossom its pale pink petals atop the water’s opaque surface. The lotus, I discovered, was much like the disadvantaged people I was living amongst. Although they suffer and endure hardship on a daily basis, they push through and beautifully blossom as devoted and compassionate people.

Many times I saw acts of love amongst families, children and strangers alike. Their selflessness and generosity continues to inspire me, to this day. We are all capable of blossoming like the lotus, and like the people of India. We have a conscious choice to stay put in the dark, shadowy depths, or to push through and immerse as tenderhearted people.

That is what Cortina is all about. We are a community of compassionate people, seeking justice in a world that operates unjustly. Poverty, oppression, hunger, racism, privilege, discrimination, sexism, xenophobia…these are some of the topics that we confront with in our community and beyond. Cortina urges students to leave their comfort zones and courageously venture out together into the unknown.

By doing so, surely, we will light the way…and that is setting the world on fire.

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