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Rafael María Hernández Urigüen, professor at ISSA and the School of Engineers - Tecnun

Between Candy Crush and public accountability: a dilemma for college students

Mon, 09 Mar 2015 12:50:00 +0000 Published in Palabra Magazine

While the media was broadcasting the video of the first vice-president of the Spanish congress entertaining herself with her tablet during the nation's discussion , my anthropology students were asking themselves questions about the new economic and labor paradigms that can model a new society of solidarity and promoter of the common good.

I do not go into whether the public representative was playing Candy Crush at that parliamentary moment or browsing the press, much less if she was writing with a finger the article that she has justified in her various statements, but the furtive scene did not seem to express high concentration or interest in the speech of her political boss.

A picture is worth a thousand words, but when the words of that same parliamentarian stated a few days earlier that one cannot be against abortion and at the same time belong to the party she represents (training political party voted because it promised to change the Spanish abortion law), voters do not fail to perceive lightness, haughty contempt and even frivolity in the person who assumed the responsibility of responding to the wishes of this large citizenry.

Irresponsible words and gestures on the part of the political class generate among young people, in particular a disaffection towards this noble profession, and there are few in the university who feel motivated to assume public responsibilities in the future.

In the reflections, dialogues and debates in the classrooms, by contrast, I detect in the university students an interest in the common good, in cleaning up Economics , in social justice and in solidarity actions that will transform the obsolete models that have led, for example, to the last crisis. These motivations of young people go beyond the current political acronyms.

In fact, during that same week the students of Euskal Kultur Taldea (Basque Culture Group) asked for permission at the beginning of my class to announce an activity that brought together political representatives from various parties. I encouraged them to publicize their initiative and told the rest of the classroom that I had a privileged opportunity to expose the ideas they expressed daily in the subject and raise their issues to politicians. The roundtable brought together representatives of the PSOE, PP, PNV and Bildu, who presented their proposals in a serene and constructive dialogue before almost a hundred university students, both during the discussion and when it was time for questions.

A day later, the high school Mayor University of Navarra in San Sebastian convened another roundtable under the degree scroll: "Peace, coexistence and reconciliation". More than one hundred university students listened to the testimonies offered by victims of ETA and GAL, who exposed their suffering, their capacity for forgiveness, they also dialogued serenely and ended up having dinner together at the end of the event.

It is more urgent than ever to motivate the interest of university students in peacefully reflected politics and under the perspective of a sincere passion for the common good. In my opinion, it is a serious responsibility of the teachers that we explain Humanities. The time has come to lose fear of the noble term "politics" which in classical ethics (Plato and Aristotle) meant the election of the best committed to the justice and happiness of citizens. Politics was the pinnacle of ethics.

Undoubtedly, among the most luminous and suggestive bibliography , the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, together with the numerous social encyclicals, offer abundant and ample sources of inspiration, together with the Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium of Pope Francis in which he launched this challenge: "I pray to God that the issue of politicians capable of entering into an authentic dialogue that is effectively oriented to heal the deep roots and not the appearance of the evils of our world may grow! Politics, so much denigrated, is a very high vocation, it is one of the most precious forms of charity, because it seeks the common good. We must convince ourselves that charity "is not only the principle of micro-relationships, as in friendships, the family, the small group, but also of macro-relationships, such as social, economic and political relationships". I pray the Lord to give us more politicians who truly care for society, for the people, for the lives of the poor" (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 205).

In order for this issue of politicians who regenerate this "highest vocation" to grow, either the university offers convincing motivations to young people, or the generational relay will be more and more problematic. Between the parliamentary frivolity of Candy Crush and the passion for the common good in solidarity, the distance to be covered cries out for accompaniment educational and bold commitment professor.