Dear President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Members of the 117th Congress,
I am an educator who works with young people. Living in Los Angeles brings the invitation to not just coexist, but to thrive together in the midst of our extraordinary diversity. Honoring this in our classrooms, we engage in a practice we call “CIQs” as a way to engage reality and remain awake to it, while resisting the numbness of feeling overwhelmed.
We begin with “C”: challenges, experiences that turn our world upside down and present a new vantage point we had not considered. We see this in Jesus’ many parables, as he upends expectations, blowing his hearers’ minds in the process (Luke 15:3-10). You mean the father should really welcome his wayward son, and do so without judgment (Luke 15:11-32)? Jesus’ challenge was to see the world as God does, pushing us past what is, to dream of what could be. May you be constantly challenged by the perspectives of those who, lacking power, see reality more clearly.
“The roaring fire of an insight is built from the sparks lighting up in each of us.”
We follow with the “I”: insights. The roaring fire of an insight is built from the sparks lighting up in each of us. Insights grow from the past, take a sobering look at the present, and then orient us to a longed-for future. Insights are built in community, in dialogue, in conversation. Jesus ignites such insights by judging the moment through appealing to his community’s wisdom. When he walks with despondent travelers who believe he is dead, he invites them to engage their intellect along with their hearts through conversation, a journey, a meal (Luke 24:13-35). May you experience incandescent insights, with your eyes fixed on the common good and ready to contribute a spark of hope to the world.
We end with “Q”: questions. Young people often feel silenced and irrelevant, but encouraging questions lets them know they are welcomed, needed, celebrated, because their questions are the ground from which new challenges are articulated, and working together may grow into insights. In his daily practice, Jesus embraced questions—of himself, God, others (for example, Luke 10:25-37). As he dreamed of a different world, he encouraged questions as a sure sign of faith. May you ask very productive questions as you serve our country in our extraordinary diversity.
Paz y bien,
Dr. Cecilia González-Andrieu
Professor of Theology
Loyola Marymount University