Education, Throwaway Culture and Pragmatism

I recently was invited to celebrate mass to the graduates of the department of education of a university. After four years of study, the normal question what was asked during the introduction was: What is all useful? This is a understandable question for it could hide the inner question of: was it all worth it? All the sacrifices, the long nights of study, to bear some teachers or professors whose lectures may not be was to understand. Yet the question was: Was it all useful? What is the usefulness of all this, so to speak.

To be useful stems from an American notion of pragmatism which springs from a utilitarian philosophy. Whatever has use, utility, exists. Understandably this western society has an economy based on usefulness, pragmatism and ultimately it is obvious in this capitalistic system that profit, not the person is of value. Whenever one toes the line of pragmatist and utilitarian mentality then, the person looses its dignity and value in favor of other things, like being profitable, being useful, etc. 

Pope Francis in many occasions tell us about the throw away culture or the disposable culture. Even the products now a days are disposables; disposable plates, disposable shave, disposable plastic glasses, spoons, forks even to disposable underwear. So the reason behind is: if is not useful anymore, throw it away and buy another one. The business world has this strategy so that production and consumption would continue. This is the so called consumeristic society where we consume, we use the products and then throw away to that the producers could produce more and gain more profits. Obviously the purpose is not the person but to increase of profits.

When money is made the priority and consider it as a demi-god, the person is just being used and utilized. Hence a person who is not useful could be “thrown away” and discarded in society. The effect of this could be euthanasia: the voluntary killing of the elderly because, among other things – like in other countries –  since they are not anymore useful. Or elderly homes are filled and are the elderly seldom with are being visited and are being neglected since they are not anymore productive. Here the Pope said that the elderly have something to offer even not productive: their experiences and their wisdom.  

In God’s eyes nobody should be thrown away even if he or she could be the worst sinner. Jesus died even for the most useless persons, the least, the lost. Death penalty for example even for the worst criminals, has not space in a good Catholic mentality. God’s mercy is infinite and nobody has the right to limit it, even the state.

The question therefore which is hidden in the hearts of the graduates could be: Is it all worth it? This could stem from a hidden fear in front of an impending teachers’ board exam, I am qualified? I am worth or it is worth to proceed and take this exam? The answer is loud and clear from God. Yes, it is! We are all capable face all exams. We have worth, infinite as it is and our value does not come from any human standard but from the standard of God who loves us – even if everything seems not to be useful anymore. It is precisely when we feel useless, that God loves us immensely and sees our worth not because of who we are but because He simply loves us first.

The whole process of education in fact, is not to give a lot of information, but to discover this worth which comes from the infinite love of God for each and every one of us. Everybody is useful and every even that happens in our lives even though we feel useless is always “useful” for our sanctification if we see the hand of God in these events. 

So in believing in God’s immense love, the question we are invited to ask is not our usefulness but our true value in the eyes of God which is in fact immense, even if others or the world considers us “useless”.