May 2021 - Project REAL...Reflection, Education, Action and Love...Part III – Action

Editor's Note:  In segments I & II of REAL, we presented a personal account of an alum's journey of reflection and shared resources to educate ourselves.  In this segment, we focus on "Action", or the steps we can all take to improve the lives of everyone around us.  Change for racial and social justice takes many forms.  It could start as small as a few conversations Dan shares below.  Or, it can be one's life work designing affordable housing as described by Kitty Ryan '79 in the Senior Spotlight article.  The important thing is that we all can fulfill the message of "being our brother's keeper" by taking action ourselves and not assuming that others will.  We can all use our great ND education, connections and life experiences to help those who have had less advantages than us.  "What Would You Fight For?"

"Project REAL - Action"

By Dan Kimball '68

When Project REAL started, I had a good idea of what might be involved for Reflection, Education and Love. Action was another issue altogether.  The others did not require me to go out and actually do something. Really talk with another person about social injustice.

The question was who to talk with and what to talk about.  I turned to our newly arrived interim parish priest, Father Randy.  He was a perfect choice.  I hoped to have the parish do something like Project R.E.A.L. But what exactly; and, as important, who would do it. I scheduled a half hour appointment with Fr Randy, and we talked for almost an hour. Truth is, we only stopped because he had to celebrate Mass. We talked about how the words we use can be an impediment rather than an aid to real communication.

But when I started talking with the folks in the Knights of Columbus or the Society of St Vincent de Paul, I quickly realized we needed to start at the beginning. Unless they had been through the Reflection and Education phases, any discussion of social injustice quickly lost focus, often taking on political overtones. Fruitful discussions of what we can do to improve social justice benefit from prior reflection.

Now I find my actions involve talking about reflection to others, not my personal reflections as much as getting them to reflect on their own lives and beliefs.  

To accept that we can and should do something involves acknowledging that there was something we could and should have done in the past. Just as you learn to walk before you run, we need to reflect before we can act.

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