Ignacio Ellacuría, the Jesuit priest and rector of the UCA, may have been predicting his own slaying when he wrote that if the university were to make a clear, strong stand for justice, it would suffer persecution. And so it did. Yet his focus was not on what would happen to the privileged Jesuits at the university, but what was already happening to the majority of Salvadorans living in inhuman poverty.
Ellacuría once proposed an exercise of the imagination for this present age of atrocity; an exercise that calls people of good will to step outside their own comfort so that others might simply live:
I want you to set your eyes and your hearts on these people who are suffering so much-some from poverty and hunger, others from oppression and repression. Then, standing before this people thus crucified you must repeat St. Ignatius' examination from the first week of the [Spiritual] Exercises.
Ask yourselves: What have I done to crucify them? What do I do to uncrucify them? What must I do for this people to rise again?
Now, these many years later, Ellacuría's questions carry a new urgency for all of us mired in the global "war on terror." Indeed, we can look in many directions and see people suffering so much from the results of U.S. foreign and domestic policy. We need only turn our gaze toward Fallujah and Ramadi, the pulverized cities of Iraq, once cities of thousands, now shells, their populations scattered to makeshift desert dwellings and refugee camps. How did we contribute-by our taxes, our silence, our timidity-to their crucifixion?
- Chmiel and Wimmer, Uncrucify Them