A Reflection on the Salvadoran Civil War
On November 16, 1989, in the midst of El Salvador’s brutal civil war, six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter were assassinated by a Salvadoran death squad at the University of Central America (UCA) in San Salvador, El Salvador. The Jesuits had been identified with the rebels in El Salvador, who were fighting for freedom from their oppressive militaristic government, and were gunned down because they opposed this system. The soldiers arrived at the Jesuits’ home in the early morning hours of the 16th. They rounded up the priests and made them lie face down in the garden. Next, the soldiers searched the rest of the house and found their housekeeper and her daughter, whom they then killed as well.
In my later Sunday School years, I was taught that Jesus was killed because he stood up for what he believed in, and that he urged us to love one another. I see this exemplified in this story. The Salvadoran government was blatantly and systematically murdering their own people, and the Jesuits and the people of El Salvador told them that what they were doing was wrong. They were killed for speaking out.
I often ask myself why I had not heard of the story of the Salvadoran martyrs until I got to college, and the answer is troubling. I believe that we do not hear these stories, because we simply do not want to. In our lives, we distance ourselves from struggle, and distance ourselves from these questions because we are afraid of the call. We live in a very broken world, and it is difficult to see our oppressed brothers and sisters struggling to survive every day when our own lifestyles of excess serve as such a stark juxtaposition to the lives they lead. We run from the cross because the cross is uncomfortable.
The discomfort we feel when we are forced to come face to face with the poor a gift. I believe it is a sign that human beings were created to serve one another and do everything within our power to lift our brothers and sisters out of the shadows and into the light of a better life. The discomfort is not something to avoid, rather, it is something to be thankful for, and it is a tool we can use to motivate us to assist the marginalized as they climb down from their crosses.
Do not fear the cross. Embrace it and live it.
Class of 2015
College of Arts and Sciences
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