“El Salvador: Another Vietnam,” A Reflection by Loriana Harkey

As we near the 25th anniversary of the murder of the Jesuit/UCA Martyrs, there are numerous events on campus to inform students of history behind this tragic day. In the 1981 film titled El Salvador: Another Vietnam, I learned core similarities between the war in El Salvador and the Vietnam War. Because the film was made before 1989, the Jesuit martyrs were still alive, but this film provided a solid background and understanding of why the murder would occur in the near future. Dr. Tom Kelly also further explained concepts that were brought up in the film.

One key similarity between the two wars was the use of the counterinsurgency method. This is when both combatants and their supporters, which includes innocent, unarmed people, are killed alike. Dr. Kelly compared this to the saying, “If you drain the pond, the fish will die.” Though we are not proud of it, the U.S. used this method during the Vietnam and El Salvador wars.

The war began when there was a group that disagreed with the Salvadoran government. There were people who supported the government, and there were those against it. Those against it were called guerrillas, or rebels. These guerrillas had no mercy on anyone associated with the government. They destroyed anything and anyone in their path. Similar to the rebels in Vietnam, they started in the sky and bombed people overhead from planes. Then, they came to the ground as groundtroopers and shot anything they saw.

In the film, college students just leaving class fell facedown on the ground to beg for mercy and not be harmed. Some even played dead. These attacks were much more severe than drive-by shootings. They were thorough, well thought out plans of murder, mutilation and destruction. Though some families were able to flee to Honduras, the remaining families were undoubtedly massacred. The guerrillas used tactics to get you to leave before killing you. One way, according to Dr. Kelly, was to take your child and cut his or her arm off in hopes that this traumatic experience would cause you to leave or join their side. To this day, there are still Salvadorans with only one arm. In one case, 136 bodies were found in a church, and 120 of them were children. But that is not the most depressing part. These children did not die of gunshot wounds, but of machete wounds. One woman from the film teared up as she retold the story of what happened to her son. He worked in agricultural business, a job completely unaffiliated with supporting or going against the government, yet he was taken by guerillas to the top of a mountain and cut into pieces. Needless to say, these deaths were highly gruesome.

Seeing these images from the film reminded me of the Holocaust. The limp lifeless bodies just piled like packages really helped me understand and have much empathy toward the devastating and plain evil nature of this war. Under President Carter, the U.S. eventually sent help to El Salvador and from 1971 to 1981 to train El Salvador soldiers. From 1980 to 1981, the U.S. sent more money to El Salvador than they had ever received in the past. Unfortunately, the money was not put fully to good use as the U.S. intended. Because the Salvadoran military officers received 1 million dollars a day from the U.S. during the war, they basically gave the guerillas weapons because as long as the war continued, the officers would keep getting money from the U.S. When a country is not financially secure, money-hungry actions such as this are bound to occur.

Though the Vietnam War did not exactly match the outcome of the war in El Salvador, the film and Dr. Kelly’s explanations show that even a couple of similarities, like the counterinsurgency method and no mercy fighting style, can be a red flag that any country is going down a fatal path.

For more information about the 25th anniversary of the Jesuit/UCA Martyrs, visit http://blogs.creighton.edu/jesuitjustice/

Speech Communities: “Magis” by Kate Albrecht

magis“Magis.” A Latin word. A Jesuit Value. An utterance frequently heard on Creighton’s campus. “Magis” can be seen in colorful sidewalk chalk scrawled on the mall advertising the #MagisMondays, can be heard in addresses to wide-eyed freshmen during Welcome Week, and can be spoken in casual reference to the new Magis Core. Yet, what does Magis really mean to the larger Creighton community?

When I first started here at Creighton, I was initially excited when I heard about how Creighton was unifying itself behind the Jesuit values and this sacred idea of Magis. Magis, as defined at Welcome Week, means more not in the quantitative sense but more in the qualitative sense of better or greater. Magis shows how Creighton strives for excellence in all things be it academics, athletics, the arts, or simply moral living. Yet, I was disappointed to find that that Creighton was using Magis in a less sacred way in the naming of the new core curriculum.

Magis appears in the name of new Magis Core as seen at http://www.creighton.edu/academics/magis-core-curriculum. This use of Magis as a marketing strategy designed to appeal to perspective students who are concerned with the return on their investment in a Creighton education cheapens the use of the word Magis. Magis becomes a cog in the capitalist society, having been chosen for its efficiency and slogan potential.  The more we use casually use “Magis Core” — like when a sophomore said to me “I am so jealous that you get the Magis Core,” or when a student in my RSP group complained “Ugh, we have to go to another Magis Presentation!” — the more we diminish the original sacredness of this age-old Jesuit value.

It is the duty of us, the students of Creighton University, to wrestle “Magis” back from its cheapened value. It is our responsibility to use this and all the Jesuit values in a respectful manner, remembering their original sacred meanings. That is truly doing more!

Public Policy, Elections, and Making Legislative Change

For this Sunday’s Formation Time, we welcomed Creighton and Cortina alum Patrick Carter to speak to the community about public policy and how it can create justice for all. Patrick graduated from Creighton in 2010 with a degree in Justice and Society. Upon graduation, he completed a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the University of Minnesota. Patrick currently works with Minnesota Department of Human Services as a legislative liaison. Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 9.27.00 PMPatrick provided great insight into the legislative branch and emphasized that you have to understand the system before you can make change. He shared ways how everyone can make an impact on public policy, from bringing ideas to legislators to meeting with your congressperson about a certain issue to contacting an executive leader with your concerns about a new law.

Patrick’s talk was fitting because of Election Day on Tuesday. As Patrick said, every election has a lot at stake, making it especially important that we exercise our right to vote. Here are a few resources to help educate you about important local, state, and federal elections this year as well as important voting information:

Douglas County Election Commission — find your polling place in Omaha, sample ballots, and more.

Voting Requirement/Process by State

Nebraska voter guide — the Omaha World-Herald‘s guide to elections in Nebraska. Nearly every major newspaper has a site like this, so non-Nebraskans can find a similar guide at other major newspapers.

Ballot Hero — sign up with an account, input your voting location, and learn about the candidates looking for your votes on Tuesday. (for Nebraska voters only)

League of Women Voters — create a personalized ballot to take with you to the polls on Election Day!

NBC News Decision 2014 — a nifty guide to this year’s Election Day that will be great for tracking key races across the country. Keep a close eye on Republicans to see if they takes control of the Senate.

Thank you to Patrick Carter for sharing your knowledge with Cortina. And remember to vote this Tuesday!

Monday Meditation: Vocation

The first Cortina Formation Time of the year focused on the topic of vocation. Freshmen and sophomores were split into separate rooms to hear from members of the Creighton and Omaha communities who shared their vocational journey and gave advice to students as they find their own vocation.

Our panelists were: Kyle O’Reilly, video editor at West Corporation; Scott McClure, Vice President of the Magis Program at Creighton; Dr. Andy Gustafson, Associate Professor of Business Ethics and Society at Creighton; Dr. Corey Guenther, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Creighton; Becky Nickerson, Assistant Director for Leadership and Retention in Creighton’s Office of Multicultural Affairs; Amanda Drapcho, Director of the Lieben Center for Women at Creighton; and Kate McKillip, an internal and pediatric resident at UNMC. We thank them so much for taking the time to spend their Sunday evening with us!

As you begin to reflect and meditate on your passions and career calling, here are some great resources to help you continue thinking about vocation:

“Something’s your vocation if it keeps making more of you.” — Gail Godwin, Evensong

What does vocation mean to you? How do you see your time at Creighton informing your vocation? What can you do/are you doing to make your time here meaningful? How do you balance your inner voice and the demands of society/college culture when it comes to discerning your vocation?

“I’m a Vege-a-vegan-a-healthy-a-confused-a-tarian”: On Ethics, Love, and Legalism

This has been a really strange summer for me, I’ve been taking two semesters of a really time-consuming class (general physics), and so I’ve had to put more effort into staying on a schedule in the summer than ever before. This leads me to constantly have to plan meals, when I will make them, and when I will shop for them. It’s a good thing; I feel like a real grown-up because I’m getting way better at cooking for myself and doing it efficiently.

But it’s also been really, really, really, really confusing. I’ve had little time to spend with my friends and family in comparison to previous summers, and I’ve been increasingly noticing an alarming thing in myself. I have a really strong conviction, that was cultivated and honed even more during my year in Cortina, that if I am aware of something bad in the world, it is my obligation and duty to do what is in my power to change that. This led to my becoming a hardcore vegetarian for most of 2013, and since I began that, I still haven’t had a bite of meat. It also led to the strengthening of an already existing disgust with the consumerism that dictates our country and others. Towards the end of this past spring semester, I became increasingly convinced that I should actually just live in this purist monk, raw local vegan, never-buy-another-material-object-I-don’t-absolutely-need-to-survive type of existence, where I spend all of my extra time building friendships with people no one else notices. And to tell you the truth, that is the ultimate destination that I would really like to reach, because I’m gonna make money in the job that I want to do, and I would love to be able to give a high percentage of it to people who need it more than I do, and use my time and abilities to change the world :P. But somehow, in my fervor to become this person, I realized that it was not only causing me to feel insanely guilty about things none of my friends felt the same for doing, but it was also causing me to insanely judge everyone around me. I was unconsciously holding everyone else in the world to the same impossibly high standard I had set for myself. (If you’re a Christian too, this just honestly might sound like the familiar “No one is righteous, not even one” refrain).

After some brutal external processing with one of my close friends who went through Cortina with me, plenty of Bible and book reading, and prayer, I realized that I was acting exactly like the Pharisees that Jesus rebukes, like, every time he sees them. The Pharisees were known for following the law to the tiniest letter and being very “upright” in terms of their to-do lists. They were also known for turning up their noses at everyone else. My THL 100 teacher didn’t spend too much time on the Pharisees, but if you ever read the gospels, they are very hard to ignore. It’s blatantly obvious that they have gotten their priorities completely wrong. Everyone (all the normal sinners Jesus hangs out with) dislikes them. They don’t actually love anyone, and they seem like they do everything out of a despairing sense of guilt. It’s a terrible and immature religion to dedicate one’s life to.

My current confusion stems from needing to know where I should draw the lines in my own life. What guideline should I stick to, at my current level of maturity, so that I am encouraging myself to act lovingly, and not judgmentally out of my own guilt? Does it mean continuing to attempt and fail at being a vegan, or maybe taking a chill pill, eating some butter with my family and friends, and being cool with just not eating meat/fish/poultry for now? Does it mean wearing the same three shirts all week, all month, or does it mean maybe being ok with buying a couple new things to fit the new body that I have from eating veggies instead of chicken fingers? I’m still not sure about these things, but I am certain that it means wholeheartedly loving the people I am already surrounded with before going out and finding new people to “love”. I am certain that it means having a humble heart about the issues that I have been informed on, and not being so caught up in what everyone else is doing, when I have enough to work on in my own life.

Oh Cortina. I’m so excited to have a whole ‘nuther year to be a part of you and become the person I’m designed to be.

What Cortina Was to Me: Invigorating

Three of my four college years were spent living and engaging in the Cortina Community. To say these three years were life changing would not be giving them enough credit. In many ways I am both jealous of and excited for the upcoming freshman class for the having the opportunity to be a part of this community when beginning their journey at Creighton. However, I was blessed to be challenged and inspired by my peers, resident advisors, and those whom I served (yes, service was not a one way street) all while being a part of a caring community.

Before becoming a part of Cortina, I was ignorant and happy to be so.  Through our Sunday community time, service sites, and community conversations, I was challenged to actually open my eyes and confront the injustices in our society.  Service at Siena Francis, a local homeless shelter, started as an uncomfortable endeavor for me.  How was I, a 20 year old college student, suppose to connect with someone who lost their home, job, and is struggling with addiction?  For some reason I could not get around the prejudices I walked into Siena Francis with.  However, week after week, I returned to serve breakfast and participate in their weekly celebration of sobriety.  Slowly, I began to get to know the clients of Siena Francis and was able to see them for individuals they were as opposed to defining them by their homelessness.

These moments at Siena Francis, along with a service trip centered around homelessness in Denver, ignited my passion and shaped my post-graduate plans.  By addressing my prejudices and deciding to focusing my energy on the issue of homelessness, I ended up a volunteer at a transitional housing facility in Omak, Washington.  Sure, my case may be slightly more drastic compared to most of my peers, but Cortina provided a safe space where I could confront my ignorant attitude.  I was able to reflect on my beliefs, be exposed to social justice issues, expand my comfort zone and gain meaningful relationships, all of which was done alongside my peers and supervisors.

One word to describe my Cortina experience: Invigorating.
-Kayla Zobel
A Cortinian in 2009-2010, A Cortina RA from 2010-2012
kayla zobel