YEAR IN HOSPITALITY Finding Home in a Changing World
Mount Aloysius College 2012-2013
Dear Friend of Mount Aloysius College: The decision to embark—as a college community—upon a yearlong exploration of a core Sisters of Mercy value— “Hospitality” —was not a difficult choice. Given our previous year’s successful examination of “Civil Discourse,” a multi-disciplined journey through the subtleties of hospitality seemed logical and fitting. Within these pages is a compilation of some highlights of that 10-event journey—with five separate destinations included here—a journey that began with Convocation and ended with Commencement as Mount Aloysius College discovered “Hospitality—Finding Home in a Changing World.”
• First, John Granger, the “Hogwarts Professor,” treated us to “Hospitality—Finding Home in an Often Inhospitable World.” His talk explored symbolism, myth and allegory using popular dystopian novels familiar to our students, (Harry Potter series and The Hunger Games Trilogy). • Next, Altoona-Johnstown Bishop Mark Bartchak referenced the bible, numerous parables and other literature to make his case for a real “Theology of Hospitality.” • In mid-September of 2013, Pulitzer Prize Winner David Shribman –who also serves as publisher of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette—and his wife, Cindy Skrzycki—full-time English lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh— treated our campus to a joint lecture on “The Hospitality of Writing.”
• Dr. James Walsh—MIT professor, writer and TV commentator—drove our theme into spring semester with a visit to campus capped with a presentation in Alumni Hall entitled, “My Five Dinners with Ahmadinejad: Hospitality in the Context of Foreign Policy.”
• Finally, you will find excerpts of the Capstone to our yearlong exploration. On May, 11, 2013, Mrs. Patricia Rooney—teacher, mother, grandmother, and activist—delivered our Commencement Address. Mrs. Rooney, wife of retired Irish Ambassador and owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers Dan Rooney, reached deep into the core values of our Founding Sisters of Mercy and delivered a summary message to our yearlong theme.
And so we present here the thoughts of an academic thinker; a learned Catholic leader; a married couple—publisher and educator—both writers; a diplomat/teacher/commentator, and finally a woman of the world who, with her husband, has lived a life marked by sharing and welcome. We think the work represented here will prove illustrative and timeless. As you read in your leisure, we hope the words touch your life and that you share our gratitude for the generous gifts of intellect, spirit and time represented here. All the best,
Tom Foley President, Mount Aloysius College
TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE 2........................“Finding Home in an Often Inhospitable World,” Address by John Granger Mount Aloysius Fall Convocation, September 6, 2012 PAGE 17.........................................................................................................“A Theology of Hospitality” Address by Rev. Mark L. Bartchak | Bishop of Altoona-Johnstown Mount Aloysius College, September 27, 2012 PAGE 33.....................“The Hospitality of Writing,” Address by David Shribman & Cindy Skrzycki Mount Aloysius College Alumni Hall, October 25, 2012 PAGE 47......................“My Five Dinners with Ahmadinejad: Hospitality as a Context for Foreign Policy,” Address by Dr. Jim Walsh Mount Aloysius Moral Choices Lecture, Spring 2013 PAGE 66...........................................................“Hospitality Capstone and Commencement Address” By Mrs. Patricia R. Rooney Mount Aloysius College Commencement, May 11, 2013
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Mount Aloysius 2012 Convocation Welcoming Remarks of President Tom Foley
Let’s begin with thanks to those who make it possible.
Good afternoon to all of you and welcome to this 73rd Convocation in the life of Mount Aloysius College. Welcome to trustees, to faculty, staff, students, honored guests and friends. Thank you for this comfortable day, for this picturesque setting, for all these uplifted faces. It is 159 years since the Sisters of Mercy first demonstrated their affection for these Laurel Highlands, when seven of their number welcomed 22 young ladies to what was then St. Aloysius Academy. It is 115 years since the building behind you first opened its doors as Mt Aloysius here in Cresson. And as you sit out there—a century and a half after Mother Francis Xavier Warde commanded a similar but smaller assembly—I am acutely aware that your ability to concentrate is inversely related to how close we come to the dinner hour. So I have three distinct functions to perform here today, and about eight minutes left in which to do it. Let me get right to it. First, a few words of thanks;
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word or two about what makes this event necessary; and third, a few thoughts on what makes this event so special.
First, to our faculty—We have an extraordinarily dedicated faculty at Mt Aloysius College. These are the people who are your academic, intellectual and professional guides. They will teach and test you in the classroom, in the laboratory, on the field and beyond. They won’t pick up after you, but they will look after you—when you need their help on a concept in the classroom or a personal challenge outside it. Today, we acknowledge their scholarship, we appreciate their service in the classroom, and we applaud their commitment to the mission of this college. Second, to our staff—These too are guides and teachers to you. Some of them recruited you to come here, some helped you figure out how to pay for it, some of them will keep you warm and well fed, some will work with you on campus activities, campus ministry and intercollegiate sports. All of them will work together to keep you safe, healthy and involved. They are true partners to our trustees, to me and to our faculty— every day— in providing the best possible experience for these next few years for all of you.
Third, to the President’s Executive Council— They are the institutional glue on this campus, holding us all together through the challenges of freshmen orientation, new construction, old sewers, the creation of new academic programs of study and so much more. Fourth, to Board of Trustees members with us today—The Trustees support, steward and strengthen Mt Aloysius. In short, they guide us through times good and bad. They share two traits in common—one, none of them went to school here; and two, all of them serve because they believe so strongly in the very idea of Mt Aloysius College and because they want so fiercely to create opportunities for all of you. A special thank you to our predecessors who stood at these very places these last almost 160 years, especially to my immediate predecessor Sister Mary Ann Dillon and to her team. Though the Sisters of Mercy are few in number on our campus today, we salute them at this time in a special way every year—because it is they who built this institution from the ground up, and it is they whose commitment to core principles of mercy and justice, service and hospitality inspire us each and every day. So thank you trustees, faculty, students, staff and all who conspired and inspired us to this day. Second assignment, explain why a formal convocation is necessary. Why did we bother
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to set up all these chairs and require you to sit in them? In one sentence—we are acting out a symbolic tradition that is literally hundreds of years old. This formal convocation ceremony has even deeper roots than Mt Aloysius College, dating back as much 800 years to the traditions of teaching and learning at the great medieval universities of Europe. This afternoon, we properly carry on a tradition that began in Bologna and at the Sorbonne, at Heidelberg and Edinburgh, at Valencia in Spain, Vilnius in Lithuania, Basel in Switzerland and Oxford and Cambridge in England. Nearly a 1,000 years after the very first convocation, an American Secretary of Education spoke directly to the importance of what we begin here today. He said: “In an interconnected, competitive global economy, the only way to secure our common future is through education. It is the one true path out of poverty, the great equalizer that overcomes differences in background, culture and privilege. In the 21st century, a quality education system is the centerpiece of a country’s economic development, and it can be the one thing that unites us as a world.” The message of Convocation is very simple— we are engaged, all of us—in the education of citizens for the betterment of themselves and the world in which they live. We convocate, convene—from the Latin con and vocare and the Greek ecclesias—to “come together”
. to begin our serious endeavors of a new academic year, in this case by opening our minds to the ideas of a prominent thinker of our time—and, . to look for something that as US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says “unites us as a world.” Last assignment—explain why this particular convocation is special. John Granger has been both original and prolific in professing his ideas, in the classroom, in his writings and in his public
advocacy and explication of them. He has lectured at some of the finest universities on the planet, and today, he honors us with his presence. We recognize John Granger for his brilliance, for his example of an educated life. We chose Mr. Granger as our Convocation speaker—to formally open our school year— for reasons specific to the mission of the college. John Granger’s life work goes to the heart of this college’s mission—to “develop competence with compassion.” Please allow me to explain. Best-selling author Thomas Freidman tells us that we live in an increasingly “flat” world where the technologies of texting and other 24/7 communication formats make “Beijing, Bangalore and Bethesda next door neighbors.” I happen to think we also live in an increasingly “divided” world, geographically, culturally, technologically, in terms of wealth and scarce resources, war and peace, education and illiteracy. We seem more often these days to incline to extremes rather than to common ground, let alone to what the late Dr. Martin Luther King described as a “single garment of destiny.” Words like “compromise” and “globalization” and even “diversity” are mostly now loaded terms with pejorative meanings. And so last year, we focused our speaker series, our orientation events, our fall and spring honors lectures and our inauguration and commencement on the understanding and promotion of “Civil Discourse”—the idea that how we communicate in person, in public and on the internet should at all times be responsive and respectful, without compromising our beliefs or the passion behind them. We brought 11 speakers to campus, sponsored 15 events around the theme—in the classroom, in our lecture series and even in the dormitory. And Mt Aloysius received national recognition for our emphatic approach to the topic. This year, we come at the same problem— Freidman’s “flat” world and my “divided’ one— from a slightly different angle. In the midst of all that diversity of opinion—the “divided world” that I referred to—there is one constant. And that constant is change— maybe the only constant in your young lives.
change—24/7 driven—is that the sheer pace of that change—and sometimes the sheer non-sense and unfathomability of some of it—means we start to lose our place in the world, in our own world—in our haven, our sanctuary, our personal or safe place, our home—as we try to deal with these 24/7 “inputs.” This 24/7 pace means that you are bombarded with outraged opinions and supercilious spin every time you open your laptop or turn on the TV. This 24/7 pace means that you can get overwhelmed with what Dean of Faculty Dr. Fulop referred to as the “look and lifestyles of the Kardashians” to the exclusion of what he calls a “liberated mind.” This 24/7 pace means that in keeping up with all that information, all the political, fashion, and lifestyle exhortations that are directed at you (and at you personally with the technology that is now available to internet marketeers), the sheer effort of keeping up can cause you to lose your own place in the world, in your world. And so this year, we focus our attention on a theme that responds, we hope, to all that constant change—“Finding Home in a Changing World,” which we symbolize with one word from among the four Mercy core values—and that word is hospitality. We embrace this theme of hospitality— “Finding Home in a Changing World”—with this convocation and we will return to it throughout the year at Mt Aloysius. Mr. Granger is the perfect choice to kickoff that theme. He has taken perhaps the two most compelling series of your generation—The Hunger Games trilogy and the seven volumes of Harry Potter—and chosen to view them on occasion through the prism of hospitality— as metaphors for the challenge of—as one of his reviewers has put it—“finding home in an often inhospitable world.” We are grateful for his research and writing, we are impressed by his worldwide reach with this theme, and we welcome him to Mt Aloysius.
The danger in a world so driven by
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FINDING HOME IN AN INHOSPITABLE WORLD Mount Aloysius Convocation Address
Delivered by John Granger September 6, 2012
Thank you, Dr. Cook, President Foley, Dr. Fulop, Faculty Marshalls, Distinguished Faculty, Dr. Dragani, Mr. Fleming, and Mace Bearer Farcus for that introduction, for the invitation to speak here today, and for allowing me to participate in the procession. My talk this afternoon is largely an extended reflection on my experiences of your hospitality here as your guest. But this talk is not for those behind me or for the faculty so much as it is for those immediately in front of me. I hope you’ll forgive me for thinking of and sharing, as I begin, the two times, too many years ago, that I sat where you sit. When dinosaurs walked the earth, I listened, first as a new undergraduate at a small liberal arts college in the Midwest, and, then, after graduation, as a recruit in Parris Island, SC, on the 1st Battalion squadbay before the beginning of my Boot Camp training as a United States Marine. I received the same message in essence at both places, different as they were, each time I sat where you sit, and, perhaps not surprisingly, though neither speaker in Chicago or Parris Island touched on movies that I had seen or books that I had read—or even used the word ‘hospitality’—much of what I will say here will echo what I heard then. At my college, a professor gave the “Aims of Education” address to incoming undergraduates. As he became quite famous in later years before his death because of a book he wrote on the narrowness of the American mind, that talk is actually in print and I was able to read recently what I had heard live back in 1979. I’m sad to say
I didn’t remember hearing this talk even after having read it to myself. What I remember of that occasion was what he said, after his formal presentation to the college, at my college house when he spoke semi-privately to thirty of us in something of a question & answer session. He told us, without equivocation or adornment, lest we walk away confused, that we were literally “idiots,” the Greek idios meaning ‘private person’ or ‘individual,’ and also, in the pejorative English sense of the word, quite stupid in our conceits and self-importance. He hoped very much that reading the Great Books in that college’s curriculum would transform us from our current state, little more than baboons in his estimation, to something like human beings. I remember, too, that we resented his remarks very much and, sadly, that I came to understand in the next few years how right he was, that we did resemble the primates of his description in our ignorance and arrogance. After graduation and marriage, I decided to fulfill something of a family tradition and join the Green Gun Club, also known as the United States Marine Corps. Having descended from the bus, followed the yellow footprints and had my head shaved, the Marine Corps officer who spoke to me and my fellow recruits was much kinder than the college professor in his remarks just before unleashing four drill instructors to remake us in Parris Island’s crucible. He told us that he admired our courage for enlisting. He shared the “thanks of Mount Aloysius College | 5
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a grateful nation” for the choice we had made and for the sacrifices we would make in the next four months of training. He assured us that we would be treated with respect as America’s finest young men—and asked us to tell him if we were physically beaten, mentally tortured, or verbally abused at any time. Like the professor, though, he was obliged to tell us that it was a very good thing that we had come to that place for our transformation because we would not be truly human until his experts had had their fifteen weeks to remake us. Different as these locales and speakers were superficially, they were both right about my need for a radical transformation and the value of the initiation and experience I was about to have if only I could endure to the end. Both speakers, 6 | Mount Aloysius College
it is no accident, were speaking to human animals of about the same age, roughly your age on average, legally adults but thought of as young people at the beginning of their independent lives. It is no accident, of course, that college and military service begin at this age for the most part. The reason, I think, is that psychologically our ideas of self—received or derived “You have elected to join a community... informed by the four virtues of Mercy, Service, Justice, and Hospitality... I think we can see that each of these qualities is a different name describing the same thing, namely, our capacity to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.”
from community, family, church, education, and sports – are, at your age, congealing into something whole, a distinct ego or persona. Before this self-identity from the arbitrary and almost infinitely various circumstances of our upbringing sets like concrete, and we become persons of historical accident, culture — in the form of a college or a screaming drill instructor— intervenes. Before we are lost to “what we were born to be,” culture breaks down this incipient ego and expands our ideas of self and what it means to be human, so we might become “what a human being is for”— our lives as images, even likenesses of God. This re-making certainly works, as any jarhead, or any college graduate who thinks of his school as his ‘second mother’ will tell you. It only works, alas,
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if this transformation is a conscious choice you participate in actively and deliberately. It is in the hopes of waking you up to this necessary decision that colleges and basic training begin their work with convocations and addresses
The Hospitality of Abraham
such as this one. You may be here because of a conveyor belt that brought you here, but you will only become human at the end of this experience if you embrace now the journey you begin as your choice of a greater life. You have elected to join a community of learning and transformation formed by the Sisters of Mercy and informed by the four virtues of Mercy, naturally, and of Service, Justice, and Hospitality. Without thinking too hard, I think we can see that each of these qualities is a different name describing the same thing, namely, our capacity to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
for others and expectation that we, too, will be treated fairly by others and in the knowledge that we will be judged in the end. Hospitality, though like the other virtues, is largely absent from the world outside havens like this community. It differs from service, mercy, and justice in not even receiving much lip-service or celebration. We think of it as our grandmother’s virtue, being kind or ‘nice’ to guests, making sure they are fed generously, have clean towels in the bathroom, maybe even putting them up when they have no other place to go. The other virtues, forgive me, seem relatively heroic and global, something to celebrate in verse or with a novel, or to foster with a government program. Hospitality is the virtue of Motel 6 or the Holiday Inn in common understanding. And if anything, as with the virtue of ‘obedience,’ I’m afraid it is written off as a virtue in a dog but as a failing, akin to willing subjection, in a person. This is a shame because, like obedience, the love evident in true hospitality is the key to the other virtues celebrated by the Sisters of Mercy at the Mount, and is the foundation of authentic spiritual life. Hospitality reveals the human being you can become here through your studies and it helps, believe it or not, in understanding today’s most popular stories. In brief, hospitality is the supernatural human capacity to love others not only as ourselves but also, to honor them as we do God.
We serve others, not from a false humility one hopes, but from an understanding of our brotherhood and shared origin in the Lord.
Today I want to share my reflections on this virtue by discussing a story I know many of you have read and many more of you have seen as a movie: Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. I think it offers us a picture of how inhospitable our world is, the way to find a home or refuge in it, and how to be truly hospitable ourselves.
We pursue justice out of our respect
To review briefly, Hunger Games is the
We are merciful to others insomuch as we are mindful of our need for mercy from our judges, especially our God.
story of Katniss Everdeen, a woman in her teens, who lives in a dystopian North America. In this future world gone very bad called ‘Panem,’ there is a Capitol to which twelve surrounding Districts live in de facto slavery, each contributing a specific resource for the Capitol citizens’ use and pleasure.
“Hospitality...helps, believe it or not, in understanding [one of] today’s most popular stories...Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games... [which] offers us a picture of how inhospitable our world is, the way to find a home or refuge in it, and how to be truly hospitable ourselves.”
Katniss lives in District 12, the smallest, least populated, and seemingly most backward region, whose contribution is coal mined from the earth. It is presented as Appalachia in chains, a city surrounded by an electrified fence in which the miners and shopkeepers are all kept in various degrees of starvation and subservience. The Capitol, though, does not restrict its subjection of the districts to economic and military shows of force. It insists that every year each district send ‘tributes’—a teenage boy and girl, to fight the other tributes to the death in what are called ‘The Hunger Games.’ These tributes are paraded in districtthemed costumes, interviewed on television, and then placed in an arena stockpiled with weapons for them to murder one another, and with dangers created by the Gamesmakers to make sure the Games are good television. Everyone in the Capitol watches for pleasure, a sadistic reality television, and everyone watches in the districts because they must.
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Katniss, though only a young woman, is the provider for her mother and sister because her father died in a mine explosion. She hunts and forages illegally in the forest outside the fence with her best friend, Gale, a young man a year or two older whose father was killed in the same explosion. We meet them on the day of the Reaping, the ceremony in which the Capitol chooses district tributes by lottery. Katniss’ beloved younger sister, Prim, is chosen and Katniss, as the rules allow, volunteers to take her place. Peeta Mellark, the baker’s son, is chosen as District 12’s boy-tribute. The first novel and the movie adaptation is the story of Peeta and Katniss’ experiences in the Capitol and the Arena in their fight to survive.
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This story is a wonderful combination of the ancient myth of Theseus, Shirley Jackson’s short story, ‘The Lottery,’ the ‘Hogwarts’ Saga,’ and the TV program ‘Survivor.’ It is primarily, though, what is called “dystopian fiction,” which is to say, a story set in the future but which offers a critique of the world we live in today. Katniss’ Panem, its Districts’ slavery and decadent Capitol, is a miserable reality and a not so subtle caricature or cartoon depiction of our world’s present failings. Suzanne Collins offers us a passage into experiencing the agonies of our time, a knowing beyond conscious understanding, by creating a story with a likeable heroine we care about who is struggling first just to feed her family, and then to survive the horrors of the Hunger Games Arena. Her world is
inhospitable, to say the least; it denies her the ability to legally provide for her mother and sister, restricts her freedom of speech, of mobility, and choice, and creates an existence in which individuals and families only look for their own survival and for any pathetic advantage. It is the world of Solzhenitsyn’s Ivan Denisovich. Katniss has no intention to marry or have a family. Her world, as it stands, has taken from her the ability to think of a future with any love beyond the love of caring for her own. How is this future fictional world-gonewrong a means to our experiencing the injustices and inequities of our time? The dystopian genre, though set in a time apart from our own is, like everything we read, experienced in our present tense, or more precisely,
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an eternal now of the imagination and heart. As with other classics of this kind such as George Orwell’s “1984,” the author can safely criticize the madness of our time by giving it a setting seemingly apart from our own age but which we have no choice but to enter into as ourselves. The Capitol and its citizens in the Hunger Games is, I think, a depiction of ourselves — well-to-do Americans who have rarely, if ever, missed a meal— to whom the rest of the world serves up its resources and skills while living in relative poverty. The made-for-television entertainment savagery of the Hunger Games Arena is a not very subtle cartoon sketch of our reality TV shows and our relationship to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just as Orwell depicted in “1984” the social injustice and socialist government-gone-mad of the United Kingdom in 1948, so Collins is allowing us, alongside her despicable Capitol voyeurs watching Katniss run her three arena gauntlets, to see ourselves as those citizens and
to sympathize with those subject to our military and economic power. I certainly do not believe that the Hunger Games trilogy is as popular as it is, though, because we are so grateful for Ms. Collins for poking us hard in the eye with the sharp stick of political satire. Sharp as her stick is, and as hard as she does poke us with it, I think the reason we love the stories—beyond those movie viewers that enjoy the show sadistically as the fictional Capitol citizens do, is because of the answers Katniss’ story gives us to the problems of surviving, escaping, transcending, even changing an inhospitable world. Collins’ answer to Katniss’ and by extension every person’s problem, is in her allegorical depiction of our most important choice and the spiritual consequences of making the heroic right choice. To understand this, I have to note briefly what allegory or symbolism is and what it isn’t.
It isn’t, praise God, re-telling a real world story or history in the guise of a fictional setting with the important players re-named. Though some want to believe that The Lord of the Rings series and the Harry Potter series are allegories of the Second World War with Sauron and Voldemort as Hitler on the one side and Dumbledore’s Army and the Fellowship of the Ring as the victorious allies on the other. If anything, it is more true that the history of second World War and its various
“The dystopian genre, though set in a time apart from our own is, like everything we read, experienced in our present tense, or more precisely, an eternal now of the imagination and heart.”
From left to right are: Tom Foley, President; Daniel Rullo, Chair, Board of Trustees; John Granger; Trustees Phillip Devorris, Edward Sheehan, and James Lyons; and Dr. Timothy Fullop, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.
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Faculty and students join John Granger for a luncheon discussion.
black and white hats were actings-out of the same eternal story that Tolkien and Joanne Rowling retold in their magical sub-creations. Allegory properly understood is not two lists, side-by-side, in which story figures and events correspond, tit-for-tat, with real-world people and history. Allegory and symbolism are windows through which we see supernatural realities and truths fleshed out in characters and their stories. We can grasp the realities and truths imaginatively, even experience them, inasmuch as we enter into the story. The three most popular stories of the 21st Century – Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games — all feature a traditional allegorical element, namely, a leading cast of three persons “Allegory and symbolism are windows through which we see supernatural realities and truths fleshed out in characters and their stories. We can grasp the realities and truths imaginatively, even experience them, in as much as we enter into the story.”
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who are symbolic transparencies or windows for the three principal faculties of the soul. Ron, Hermione, and Harry; Jacob, Edward, and Bella; and Gale, Katniss, and Peeta are all what is called by literature geeks “soul triptychs” —three-paneled icons of the soul’s desiring, thinking, and loving capacities, what we usually call ‘body, mind, and spirit.’ This three-part character story in which the soul’s journey is told in the form of an adventure is nothing new. It’s as old as the Charioteer in Plato’s “Phaedrus,” it’s featured in “The Brothers Karamazov,” which many consider the greatest novel ever written. And it’s something we can see in the three Hobbits on Tolkien’s Mount Doom; in Bones, Spock, and Kirk on Star Trek; and in Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. These soul-triptych stories work as well as they do because of what happens when we read. We “suspend disbelief,” meaning we turn off our critical faculties and enter into the story imagining ourselves within it through the ‘eye of the heart.’ In stories with characters serving as stand-ins for the soul’s physical, rational, and
spiritual capacities, we experience their relationships as how the soul’s faculties are best aligned when desire answers to will and mind — both obedient to the directions of the heart or spirit. The Hunger Games principal characters are Katniss, Gale, and Peeta. Katniss and Gale are almost brother and sister as they are described in the first book’s opening chapters. This relationship corresponds wonderfully with the body and soul pairing in allegory. We are all unions of body and soul, a psychosomatic unity joined seamlessly — toes-to-nose. Gale and Katniss’ lives in the Seam and Forest are story depictions of the soul-and-body life we live in the world. The inciting incident of the book is the Reaping, another name for Death, in which Katniss’ sister, Prim, is chosen as Tribute. The choice that Katniss makes is the one of sacrificial love to save the life of a beloved sister. The soul is separated from the body. And immediately Peeta appears, the second District 12 tribute. We learn that he saved Katniss’ life years before by sacrificially giving her bread from the bakery when she was starving, bread
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he had burnt intentionally, for which he was beaten. Because Peeta’s appearances are at Katniss’ times of greatest need, because his name is assonant with both pita bread and St. Peter, because speech, his Word, is his greatest power, and because he loves Katniss sacrificially and unconditionally, it is no stretch to see him as the spiritual aspect of our souls, the part Jesus of Nazareth always calls ‘the heart.’
As I said when we began, the college professor and Marine Corps officer who spoke at the convocations before my initiations and transforming experiences when I was your age didn’t mention books that I had read or say anything about hospitality. Perhaps if they had read the Hunger Games or
The Hunger Games, viewed in this light, is the soul’s journey from its identification with the body and its worldly view and pre-occupations, to a love for the heart which is Christ’s. Katniss is victorious in her Hunger Games Arena because of Peeta’s love and her growing ability to recognize it and to accept him, as Gale puts it, as the person “that she cannot live without.” Mircea Eliade writes in his “Sacred and the Profane” that in a secular culture, one in which God has been pushed to the periphery of the public square and of our thinking, entertainments serve a mythic or religious function. They are our means, in other words, to get beyond our ego existence and transcend the individual selves behind the persona-masks we wear. Story — in the shape of books we read, television programs and movies we watch, or athletic dramas in big stadiums — is the de facto religion of atheist America. My corollary to Eliade’s thesis is that the more profound a mythic or transcending experience a story delivers, the more popular it will be. It is no accident, in other words, that the Hogwarts, Twilight, and Hunger Games sagas are suffused with traditional Christian artistry, symbolism, and meaning that deliver a salutary imaginative experience of the soul making heroic, correct choices.
attend a college with a focus on the virtues embraced and incarnate in the Sisters of Mercy, especially Hospitality. I hope you will take away from Katniss Everdeen’s story, a postmodern and powerful retelling of the Christian soul’s journey to choose to accept the love of Christ, the truth that is your refuge in an inhospitable world. The inexhaustible source of your hospitality offered to your neighbor, even your enemy, is your acceptance of and identification with Love Himself. We are all Katniss Everdeen, separated from our Father unnaturally, struggling to find a place in an inhospitable world, and pre-occupied with that world sufficiently that we are blind to the Love and Light of the World that brings us into existence moment-to-moment. I pray that, in this relative Eden, a hospitable and loving refuge east of Pittsburgh, you are liberated from this childish and egotistic blindness and that you come to know the real world’s Peeta in the Body of Christ, His Church. I hope, too, that you learn from your brilliant professors how to see Him in the world around you as well as in the stories you love best.
viewed the world as the inhospitable place it has become thirty years later, they might have. You live in an inhospitable world. As you live in the Capitol rather than the districts, you do not suffer from physical so much as spiritual want. And your transformation in the higher education you are beginning is properly about finding a home, creating a refuge, in an unloving world outside these walls. I believe you are singularly and providentially blessed to have chosen to
Thank you, again, for the honor of being invited to speak with you today, and for the hospitality I have enjoyed, and for which The Mount is so well known. You have my best wishes that your experiences here are much more pleasant, but just as transformative, as mine were as a new college student and Marine recruit years ago. I welcome you to the crucible of higher education and invite you to embrace it consciously for your more thorough change and much greater life, in Christ.
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Biographical Note John Granger, a classicist trained at Phillips Exeter and the University of Chicago, is a writer, commentator, and literary critic. He has written and lectured on subjects as varied as C.S. Lewis, food as sacrament, home schooling, prayer, and scripture. Mr. Granger is best known for his analysis
of popular fiction. The eight books that he has authored or co-authored on the popular J.K. Rowling series led Time to declare him the “Dean of the Harry Potter Scholars.” He has given over 100 print, radio, and television interviews, including in the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times; and he has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and A&E. Mr. Granger was the first critic to identify and explore the Christian themes of the Harry Potter books and to develop the theme of literary alchemy—the process by which base materials are symbolically turned into 12 | Mount Aloysius College
something precious—which the author states establishes the internal logic of the series. Mr. Granger has also lectured on the popular Twilight series and recently published a book entitled, “Spotlight: A Close-Up Look at the Artistry and Meaning of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight
Saga.” Most recently, he has turned his literary talents to an examination of The Hunger Games trilogy. As with the Harry Potter series, Mr Granger has continued to explore and explain the symbolism, myth, allegory, and iconography that give these highly popular series their deep and affecting moral power. Mr. Granger has been lauded as “a lively guide to the application of ancient wisdom for modern living… [who] aims to open the hearts and minds of his audience to a larger view of themselves and reality.” His books are used in university
classrooms across the country and his blogs and podcasts are closely followed. In his role as scholarly interpreter of these popular series, Mr. Granger has become, as one reviewer put it, “the gatekeeper of the shared texts of the younger generation.” Mr. Granger served six years in United
States Marine Corp and has taught Latin and English at the secondary and collegiate levels. Mr. Granger lives in Oklahoma City with his wife, Mary, and their children. He is an ordained Christian Reader (Psalte) in the Orthodox Church.
A Theology of Hospitality
Most Rev. Mark L. Bartchak | Bishop of Altoona-Johnstown Mount Aloysius College, Thursday, September 27, 2012
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Some Reflections on Teaching and Learning Hospitality at a Catholic College Most Rev. Mark L. Bartchak Bishop of Altoona-Johnstown
Mount Aloysius College Faculty Conference Thursday, September 27, 2012
Introduction I am grateful to President Foley for the invitation to speak to you today. When we met to talk about this gathering, Dr. Foley suggested that I speak about some aspects of the 1990 Apostolic Constitution of Pope John Paul II on Catholic Universities. That document is more often known by its Latin title, Ex corde Ecclesiae. Dr. Foley further suggested that I not focus so much on the juridic or legal norms that are found in the second part of the document. Instead, he thought that any of the theological or doctrinal elements in the first part of Ex corde Ecclesiae might be addressed.
I was happy to consider the request for two reasons. The first is that I am a canon lawyer, and itâ€™s a welcome distraction to have the opportunity to consider a topic in a way other than my familiar paradigm. At the same time, however, it is fundamental to the study and application of canon law that juridic norms are to be understood according to Church doctrine, because the law of the Church is based on Church teaching and not the other way around. The other welcomed reason for a non-legal approach is that John Paul II states explicitly in Ex corde Ecclesiae that Bishops have a particular responsibility to promote Catholic universities, and especially to promote and assist in preserving and strengthening their Catholic identity.
internal governance of Mount Aloysius College. The effective governance of this Catholic college is owed to the vision and determined efforts of the Sisters of Mercy that continues to inform and inspire the Board of Trustees, the administration, and the faculty of Mount Aloysius College. Dr. Foley, along with Sister Helen Marie and Sister Nancy, has been very gracious in welcoming me into the life of Mount Aloysius College. I am grateful for the sincere expressions of hospitality that have been extended since my first visit here. That brings me to the focus of my reflections with you today. I want to talk about teaching and learning hospitality in a Catholic college. Dr. Foley recently told me that there is a special focus on
Blessed John Paul II adds that this will be achieved more effectively if close personal relationships exist between university and Church authorities which are characterized by mutual trust, close and consistent cooperation, and continuing dialogue. Finally, he states that even when they do not enter directly into the internal governance of the university, Bishops should be seen not as external agents, but as participants in the life of a Catholic university or college.1 As you know, I do not enter directly into the
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Year of Hospitality | August, 2013 Caption (From left to right): Dr. Timothy Fulop, Senior VP for Academic Affairs; Sister Nancy Donovan, Director of Campus Ministry; Most Rev. Mark L. Bartchak; Sister Helen Marie Burns, VP for Mission Integration; and President Tom Foley.
hospitality at Mount Aloysius College this year. I am grateful to Sister Helen Marie for drawing my attention to the place that hospitality has here at Mount Aloysius College, especially as it was understood by Venerable Catherine McAuley who founded the Sisters of Mercy. I will leave that unique Mercy understanding of hospitality to someone else.
Basic Principles from Ex corde Ecclesiae At the outset I would like to situate the 18 | Mount Aloysius College
expression â€œteaching and learning hospitality in a Catholic collegeâ€? within some of the major principles found in the Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae. A Catholic college is characterized as having a Christian inspiration not only of individuals, but of the university as an institution and as a community. As an institution and community, a Catholic College is guided by the light of the Catholic faith and strives to be faithful to the Christian message that comes to us through the Catholic Church to which a Catholic college belongs.2 Teaching and learning in a Catholic college are not restricted to memorization or mere recitation of the Catholic faith. A Catholic
college is a place where scholars, researchers, professors, or teachers are to utilize the methods that are proper to each academic discipline (whether sciences or arts or humanities), but in a way that the search for truth and the acquisition of knowledge are inspired by and permeated with Catholic ideals, attitudes and principles. Each academic discipline is taught and learned in a systematic manner that is proper to that discipline. But various disciplines, including theology, are to be brought into dialogue for their mutual enhancement. A Catholic college is an institution and community in which the integration of knowledge is
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promoted by a dialogue between faith and reason.3 According to the principles set forth in Ex corde Ecclesiae, it is understood that all members of a Catholic college as institution and as community, contribute to this enterprise. This includes students, teachers and administrators; whether they are members of the Catholic Church or other Churches, ecclesial communions, or religions. A Catholic college is to be animated by a spirit of freedom and charity, and it is to be characterized by mutual respect, sincere dialogue, and respect for the dignity and rights of persons. This means that there must be an ethical concern present in which teaching and learning is conducted in accord with moral norms that are not in conflict with the Catholic faith.4 Finally, it is very important to observe that in the Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae, Pope John Paul II teaches that in all of the activities of a Catholic college (whether research, teaching, social life, culture, pastoral care, etc.), in the most profound way what is at stake is the very meaning of the human person as individual and as part of a group.5 You may have noticed that in this brief review of some basic principles in Ex corde Ecclesiae, I mentioned Catholic College, and I mentioned teaching and learning, but I did not mention hospitality. Thatâ€™s because hospitality is not mentioned explicitly in Ex corde
Ecclesiae. However, it is certainly to be found there in an implicit, but not too subtle way.
arrived at Gannon University where they were able to continue to live their vocations as priests and professors.
Of course, I need to explain what is meant by hospitality, and I will offer some thoughts on why it is an essential characteristic of a Catholic college. In order to set the stage, I would like to present two illustrations of hospitality in a college setting.
Reverend Alphonse Crispo was one of them. He was educated in one of the great universities in Rome, Italy. When I began my college studies Father Crispo had been teaching philosophy for almost 30 years. He was the only professor who taught the required courses on the history of philosophy.
First Illustration You Know Nothing One of the many ways I have been blessed in my life is to have received my formal education in Catholic schools, seminaries, and universities. From grade school through doctoral studies I have been blessed by many dedicated clergy, religious and lay women and men who were my teachers and professors. In my undergraduate studies at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania (it was Gannon College then), I was a philosophy major. It was a great preparation for my theological studies in the seminary and later on in my graduate studies in Church law. The faculty in the philosophy department was rather unique since many of professors at that time were foreign-born priests. Gannon University was in its infancy at the time of the Second World War. A number of priests fled the turmoil of Europe and
Father Crispo loved philosophy. He taught with great passion, but his teaching method was very European. In his heavy Italian accent, Father Crispo would lecture the entire time. It did not matter if it was a 60 or 90 minute session. Those who knew about Father Crispo understood that asking questions during his lecture just did not happen. There was one student who did not get that message. By the 3rd or 4th lecture this student was not keeping up with Father Crispo. So he decided to ask a question. Father Crispo appeared to be oblivious to this student who did not relent in holding his hand in the air. But after a few minutes it was evident that Father Crispo saw the raised hand and that he was not going to acknowledge the student who was desperate to ask a question. This went on for several minutes until the hand raised in the air became a hand that was waving back and forth. Finally,
â€œNouwen wrote that hospitality is the virtue that makes anxious disciples into powerful witnesses, makes suspicious owners into generous givers, and makes closed-minded sectarians into interested recipients of new ideas and insights.â€?
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Father Crispo stopped in mid-sentence and asked the student why was he waving his hand? The student quickly replied, “I want to ask a question.” Before Father Crispo could explain that questions were not to be asked during his lecture, the student asked a question. I cannot remember what the student asked. But, I have never forgotten Father Crispo’s response. He looked at the student and said, “How can you ask a question? You know nothing.” Anyone who knew Father Crispo; a really good priest and a devoted teacher; would not have been stunned by his response to that student. He did not say it to put the student in his place or to demean him in any way. Because as soon as Father Crispo said “How can you ask such a question? You know nothing;” he said to the student, “Come to me after the lecture. That is the time for questions.” That poor student did not know what most of us knew and experienced; that Father Crispo was one of the most generous professors with his time. On any given day, a bunch of us would sit
on the floor in his office later in the day and ask as many questions as we pleased. “How can you ask a question? You know nothing.” Taken entirely out of context, it does sound strange. After all, how can you know something if you don’t ask questions? All of us here know the importance of questions. Students ask questions to learn information and teachers ask questions to assess how their students are progressing in their knowledge of the subject.
Second Illustration Did You Ask a Good Question Today? I would like to share with you one more illustration in which questions are a very important feature of the story. It’s not my own experience. It was a defining experience for an individual of considerable fame.
Isidor (Israel) Isaac Rabi was born in 1898 in a small village in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The name of the village is Rymanow which is located in what is now Galicia, Poland. To his family and friends, Isidor was known simply as Izzy. His family came to America when he was an infant. He grew up in poverty in a Jewish ghetto in Brooklyn, NY. In 1944 he received the Nobel Prize for Physics, in recognition of his discovery of nuclear magnetic resonance. A long-time friend asked him, “Izzy, why did you become a scientist, rather than a doctor or lawyer or businessman, like the other immigrant kids in your neighborhood?” Isidor replied, “My mother made me a scientist without ever intending it. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school: ‘So? Did you learn anything today?’ But not my mother.
Caption (from left to right): First Row: Sister Guiseppe DaBella, Sister Margaretta Phillips, Sister Agnese Mikolaj, Most Rev. Mark L. Bartchak, Sister Fran Stein, Sister Eric Marie Setlock; Second Row: Sister Charlene Kelley, Sister Evangelista Strohmier, Sister Helen Marie Burns, Sister Nancy Donovan; Top Row: Sister Katharine Brennan, Sister Benedict Joseph Watters.
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She always asked me a different question: ‘Izzy, did you ask a good question today?’ That difference asking good questions - made me become a scientist!”6 Rabi’s parents were devout orthodox Jews who practiced their religion at home and in the synagogue. Isidor said that throughout his childhood, God was mentioned by his parents in almost every sentence, even in casual conversation. When Rabi was about 12 years of age, he began reading science books for the first time. His new appreciation for the three-dimensional significance of the solar system solidified his love for science. When he came home from the library and told his mother what he had read, she reminded him that he needed to study in preparation for his Bar Mitzvah. Rabi said to his mother, “Who needs God?”7 However, his knowledge and love for science did not cause him to give up on his faith. During his time as a professor at Columbia University, Rabi was not shy about sharing the connection between faith and science. Rabi said, “Physics filled me with
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awe; put me in touch with a sense of original causes. Physics brought me closer to God. That feeling stayed with me throughout my years in science. Whenever one of my students came to me with a scientific project, I would ask the question, “Will it bring you nearer to God?”8 For Rabi, doing great physics was walking the path of God. A biographer quotes Rabi explaining, “The first verses of Genesis were very moving to me as a child. The whole idea of the Creation - the mystery and the philosophy of it. It sank in on me, and it’s something I still feel. There’s no question that basically, somewhere way down, I’m an Orthodox Jew. My early upbringing, so struck by God, the Maker of the world, this has stayed with me.” 9 Isidor Rabi died at home from cancer in 1988. A few months before his death, he was reminded in a very personal way of his greatest achievement that led to the Nobel Prize for Physics. His physician sent him to the hospital for tests, including an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), which was developed from his ground-breaking research on magnetic resonance. Isidor Rabi remarked, “I saw
myself in that machine. I never thought my work would come to this.”10 Rabi is also quoted as saying, “I think physicists are the Peter Pans of the human race. They never grow up because they keep their curiosity.” II You probably know that Rabi was associated with many prominent 20th century physicists, including Niles Bohr, Otto Stern, J. Robert Oppenheimer and Enrico Fermi. I remember hearing about them in high school. Somehow their stories did not conjure the image of Peter Pan! I don’t know what image Isidor Rabi’s story conjures up for you, but it made me think of how teaching and learning have something to do with hospitality, especially in the context of a Catholic college. Actually, teaching and learning have a lot to do with hospitality in a Catholic college.
Hospitality I don’t wish to oversimplify this, but for purposes of this presentation, I want
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to mention that throughout history, hospitality has been known to involve care for the stranger, especially when that person’s survival would be at risk if such care was not provided. Hospitality may involve welcoming or befriending someone. Patricia Johnson has observed that hospitality involves the creation of a place for another. Such a place is both physical and intentional. It is created from the real means of one for the benefit of another and it is hospitality only when it is given willingly. 12 In the Judea-Christian tradition, hospitality is understood as a sacred duty. This is found in the Hebrew Scriptures including the Book of Genesis where the patriarchs were seen as models of hospitality.13 The pre-eminent story is the visit of the Lord God to Abraham.14 In Deuteronomy, Moses explains that those who fear and serve God and hold fast to him and swear by his name must execute justice for the orphan and widow, and befriend the alien by providing food and clothing.15 This sacred duty was understood not simply to be a matter of friendliness or politeness, because it was also to be extended to one’s enemies. 16 In the New Testament, hospitality is exemplified by the person of Jesus Christ who gave himself to his guests, even when they did not offer hospitality. Jesus taught that the final judgment will be an account of how each person did or did not provide hospitality. 17 From this teaching of Jesus it has come to be understood that hospitality is a virtue that is a function of the theological virtue of charity. The teaching of Jesus regarding hospitality is related to the law of charity. The primacy of charity is an issue that Jesus addressed in answer to a trick question from a lawyer. This version of the story is from the Gospel of Matthew:
When the Pharisees had heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest? Jesus said to them, “you shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”18 It’s worth noting for sake of our reflection today how this conversation is presented in the Gospel of Luke. When the scholar of the law asks Jesus the question, Jesus responds by asking the lawyer: “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” The legal scholar recited the two commands and was commended by Jesus who said, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you shall live.”19 In order to understand this teaching, we need to ask another question: “Who is my neighbor?” The answer given by Jesus is found in the parable of the Good Samaritan which Jesus shared with the legal scholar who did not seem to want to let go of his line of challenging questions.20 It says in the Gospel of Luke that in order to justify himself, the lawyer asked Jesus “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answers this question in such a way as to give the legal scholar a choice of answers. One of the answers focuses on the selfjustification that the scholar of the law was seeking. This answer is found in the parable when Jesus uses the examples of a priest and a Levite who encounter a robbery victim along the side of the road. They could easily justify themselves to move as far away from the victim as possible and continue on
without offering assistance because the victim could be considered unclean, or because the victim’s needs were so great that it might have kept them from doing the things that priests and Levites were supposed to do at that time. The other answer that Jesus offers to the legal scholar is found in the example of the Samaritan who was moved with compassion when he saw the victim and then went to great lengths to provide assistance. The Samaritan had physical contact with the victim and, using his own funds, he engaged others to provide additional care as needed. Then in the masterful way of responding that Jesus often used, he answered the legal scholar’s question with a question. Jesus asked, “Which of these three was neighbor to that victim?” It is especially noteworthy that Jesus did not pose that question in order to obtain an objective answer. He asked, “Which of these three in your opinion was neighbor to that victim?” The content of this simple parable is certainly about the substance of hospitality. Hospitality is not simply the sacred duty that is evident in the writings of the Old and New Testaments of the Sacred Scriptures. Hospitality is not simply a practical expression of charity in the sense that being a neighbor or Good Samaritan is only about doing good deeds.
Hospitality as Virtue Hospitality is also described as a virtue.21 According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiri
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tual powers. The virtuous person is able to put to use the intellect and the will, and these powers are assisted by God’s grace. 22 One of my favorite authors on matters of spirituality had some noteworthy observations about hospitality. Henri Nouwen wrote that hospitality is the virtue that makes anxious disciples into powerful witnesses, makes suspicious owners into generous givers, and makes closed-minded sectarians into interested recipients of new ideas and insights.23 Nouwen reminds us that hospitality requires listening. He says that to listen is very difficult because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept. Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very being. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discover their own true selves. Henri Nouwen observes that the purpose of hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines. It is not to lead our neighbor into a corner where there are no alternatives left, but to open a wide spectrum of options for choice and commitment.24 Nouwen’s insights about hospitality as
listening to and not changing people, but offering a space where change can take place through an openness to options for choice and commitment are elements that are found in the story about Isidor Rabi.
Teaching and Learning Hospitality According to Nouwen, the hospitable teacher has to reveal to the students that they have something to offer. He noted that many students have been for so many years on the receiving side and have become so deeply impregnated with the idea that there is still a lot more to learn, that they have lost confidence in themselves and can hardly imagine that they themselves have something to give, not only to the ones who are less educated, but to their fellow students and teachers as well. Pope John Paul II explains in Ex corde Ecclesiae, that a Catholic college or university is the place where students should be provided the opportunity to face this challenge. Citing the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World from the Second Vatican Council, Pope John Paul II states that students should be challenged this way during the time of their college studies and throughout their lives because “the human spirit must be cultivated in such a way that there results a growth in one’s ability to wonder, to understand, to contemplate, to make personal judgments, and to develop a religious, moral and social sense.”25
Nouwen once wrote that one of the greatest problems of education remains that solutions are offered without the existence of a question. It seems that the least used source of formation and information is the experience of the students themselves. Ex corde Ecclesiae treats of this experiential element within the role of a Catholic college in dialogue with culture through which the aspirations and contradictions of culture are discerned and evaluated in view of the total development of individuals and groups.26 As I mentioned, I cannot remember the question asked by a student during a philosophy lecture. I can only remember Father Crispo saying, “How can you ask a question? You know nothing.” That statement by itself and out of context would lead one to conclude that hospitality was absent. It was not being taught and it was not being learned at that moment. However, for those of us who knew Father Crispo, notwithstanding his monologue lectures, he was abundantly generous in allowing us to ask questions. And what I remember of the questions were his responses which were not limited to a more careful explanation of Leibnitz or Espinosa. In his unique way, he was teaching and we were learning hospitality. Father Crispo created a place, either in his cramped office or his modest apartment, an intentional environment in which we his students could learn the truth that philosophers were seeking for centuries. What was more astounding to us was the way in which he appeared to be vulnerable, at least in the sense that the conversations were not confined
“Jesuit theologian Gerald Fagin observed that hospitality means openness to what guests and strangers bring to us. We receive a revelation from the guest which can change us and enrich our lives and open us to new possibilities and ways of thinking and living.”
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to the history of philosophy. When he was engaged in one of his lectures, he appeared to be invincible. But in the other sessions, he talked about music, and art, and faith, and human suffering, and hope, and his faith in Jesus Christ. In those other topics he revealed more of himself and from those conversations we learned more of the truth about ourselves. Jesuit theologian Gerald Fagin observed that hospitality means openness to what guests and strangers bring to us. We receive a revelation from the guest which can change us and enrich our lives and open us to new possibilities and ways of thinking and living. So we can say that hospitality involves a real reciprocity. The key to hospitality is to pay attention. When we pay attention, we divest ourselves of self-preoccupation.27
As a college freshman, my first impression of Father Alphonse Crispo did not include the idea that he was paying attention to us. How could anyone talk that long without interruption, without interaction through dialogue have any regard for us? What a huge surprise it was for us when his attentiveness in another forum was immediate and profound. There was no mistaking that he was interested in us. Not only did we ask questions, but he was full of questions for us!
teacher having attained an integration between faith and life and between professional competencies and Christian wisdom.28
You may be thinking, whatâ€™s the big deal? After all he was a Catholic priest. Pope John Paul II notes in the Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae that all teachers in a Catholic college who are of the Christian faith are called to be witnesses and educators of authentic Christian life. This witness gives evidence of such a
Isidor Rabi credits his mother for his being a scientist because she always wanted to know, â€œDid you ask a good question today?â€? In that daily exchange between Isidor and his mother, hospitality was being taught and learned.
But Pope John Paul II also asserts that there is a similar role for non-Christian teachers in a Catholic college. They are to be inspired by academic ideals and by the principles of an authentically human life.29 I cannot help but think of the example of Isidor Rabi in this regard, although he did not teach at a Catholic College.
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An intentional space was made in and through which Mrs. Rabi respected the unique personhood of her son. It is where and how new life was found and his gifts could flourish. Isidor Rabi continued to learn and to teach about hospitality all through his years as a professor at Columbia University and as a world renowned physicist. He did not hesitate to ask his physics students if their project would bring them closer to God.
Hospitality in Other Expressions of the Mission of a Catholic College The Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae addresses other non-academic opportunities for teaching and learning hospitality at a Catholic college. In addition to the roles of teachers and students in teaching and learning hospitality in a Catholic college, Ex corde Ecclesiae recommends pastoral ministry (typically referred to on college campuses in the USA as campus ministry) as having a unique role of being able to teach students, professors, and others about hospitality. It states that “those involved in pastoral ministry will encourage teachers and students to become more aware of their responsibility towards those who are suffering physically or spiritually. Following the example of Christ, they will be particularly attentive to the poorest and to those who suffer economic, social, cultural, or religious injustice.”30 These opportunities for learning and teaching hospitality become opportunities for becoming hospitable in the JudeoChristian sense that I mentioned earlier. It is also set forth in Ex corde Ecclesiae that a Catholic college or university can contribute to the teaching, learning and practice of hospitality that is involved in
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ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. In this regard, it specifically suggests the discernment of spiritual values that are present in various religions.31 Finally, it is explicitly stated that a Catholic college as an institution can make an important contribution to the Church’s work of evangelization. The Catholic college or university also contributes by providing an “education offered in a faith-context that forms men and women capable of rational and critical judgment and conscious of the transcendent dignity of the human person.”32
Some Final Thoughts I would like to return to the story of Isidor Rabi one last time. Throughout his career as a professor and researcher at Columbia University, Rabi gave evidence of a well-developed integration of his faith and his scientific scholarship. He also exhibited a great capacity for learning, teaching, and practicing hospitality. Rabi would often establish an intentional place where his students and others were invited to engage in scientific research. At the same time, he established an intentional place where they might also engage in the discovery of the transcendent in their lives, which would result in their discovering the meaning of their own lives. His question was, “Will this physics project bring you closer to God?” He was a person of faith, but he did not try to impose that faith on others. With due respect for the freedom and integrity and dignity of his students, he was quite comfortable in seeing how faith and science were not entirely incompatible or exclusive. He saw it as an opportunity to invite others to engage in a reflection on the impact of one on the other.
When I reflect on Rabi ‘s approach, I think about the ways in which administration, teachers, and students in a Catholic college can engage in dialogues that include both faith and other academic disciplines. I have tried to suggest that this engagement involves hospitality. It involves creating an intentional place where this sort of dialogue can occur; where this form of hospitality does not try to change the other, but allows the participants to seek whatever change is needed in their search for the truth. When Pope John Paul II issued the Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae in 1990, there were a number of reasons for including a section that contained specific juridic norms. Much of the discussion of Ex corde Ecclesiae that followed was a critique or a sort of backlash against the emphasis on the juridic elements. A number of my colleagues in canon law have written dissertations, articles, and commentaries on the juridic norms. Unfortunately, much of the discussion never focused on hospitality. At best, it resulted in looking at the landscape of Catholic identity and academic freedom as being a matter of tolerance.33 However, as I stated at the beginning, the law of the Church follows the teaching of the Church and not the other way around. I hope that my reflections provide an opportunity for all of you at Mount Aloysius College to recognize that this year’s focus on hospitality is well grounded in the teaching of the Church in Ex corde Ecclesiae. And if you need any further encouragement, I would like to conclude with an observation made by Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of the noon blessing on the feast of the pre-eminent theologian and doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, in 2007. Actually, the Holy Father asked
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an important, open-ended question: “Why should faith and reason be afraid of each other, if they can express themselves better by meeting and engaging one another?”
I am grateful to have learned about that kind of meeting and engagement from people like Father Alphonse Crispo and Professor Isidor Rabi. And I am grateful to have this time with you
1) John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities Ex corde Ecclesiae (August 15, 1990) 28. 2) Ex corde Ecclesiae, 13. 3) Ex corde Ecclesiae, 14-17. 4) Ex corde Ecclesiae, 17. 5) Ex corde Ecclesiae, 7; 12. “Every Catholic university, as university, is an academic community which, in a rigorous and critical fashion, assists in the protection and advancement of human dignity and of a cultural heritage through research, teaching and various services offered to the local, national and international communities.” 6) Donald Sheff, “lzzy, Did You Ask a Good Question Today?” The New York Times, Jan 19, 1988. 7) John S. Rigden, Rabi: Scientist and Citizen, Harvard Univ. Press (2000) 23. 8) John S. Rigden, “Isidor Isaac Rabi,” Physics World, (November 1999) 31. 9) Rigden, Rabi: Scientist and Citizen, 21. 10) Rigden, “Isidor Isaac Rabi,” Physics World, (November 1999) 27. 11) Mark Fiege, “The Atomic Scientists, the Sense of Wonder and the Bomb,’’ Environmental History 12 (2007) 583. 12) Patricia A. Johnson, “The Practice of Hospitality,” Address at University of Dayton (April 16, 2010) 13) See for example, Genesis 19:2; 24: 17-33; 43:24. 14) Genesis 18:1. 15) Deuteronomy 10:18-19. 16) Proverbs 25:21- 22. 17) Matthew 25:31-46.
today to consider the question at Mount Aloysius College; a Catholic college; and an intentional place of hospitality. Thank you for your attention. §
18) Matthew 22:34-40. See also, Mark 12:28-34. 19) Luke 10:25-28. 20) Luke 10:29-37. 21) Storm Bailey, “Tolerance and Hospitality as Virtues,” Analytic Teaching, 23 (2002) 28. 22) Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1803-1804. 23) Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, New York: Doubleday (1975) 66-67. 24) Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, 76-77 25) Ex corde Ecclesiae, 23. See Vatican Council II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modem World Gaudium et spes, 59. 26) Ex corde Ecclesiae, 45. 27) Gerald M. Fagin, SJ, Putting on the Heart of Christ, Chicago: Loyola Press (2010) 115-129. 28) Ex corde Ecclesiae, 22. 29) Ex corde Ecclesiae, 22. 30) Ex corde Ecclesiae, 40. 31) Ex corde Ecclesiae, 47. 32) Ex corde Ecclesiae, 49. 33) For further reading, see for example John C. Haughey, SJ, “From Tolerance to Engagement in Catholic Higher Education,” Woodstock Report 87 (March 2007); J. Michael Miller, CSB, “Catholic Universities and Interreligious Dialogue,” America 192:21 (June 20, 2005); or Stephen L. Trainor, “A Delicate Balance: The Catholic College in America,” Change (March/April 2006) 14-21.
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CAPTION: Most Rev. Mark L. Bartchak discusses hospitality at a dinner with students in the Wolf-Kuhn Gallery at Mount Aloysius College
Year of Hospitality | August, 2013
(L-R) Dr. Tim Fulop, Sr. VP for Academic Affairs, Cindy Skrzycki, David Shribman, and President Tom Foley. 32 | Mount Aloysius College
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Introductory Remarks Thomas P. Foley, President
Mount Aloysius College October 25, 2012
Best-selling author Thomas Freidman tells us that we live in an increasingly “flat” world where the technologies of texting and other 24/7 communication formats make “Beijing, Bangalore and Bethesda next-door neighbors.” I happen to think we also live in an increasingly “divided” world, geographically, culturally, technologically, in terms of wealth and scarce resources, war and peace, education and illiteracy. We seem more often these days to incline to extremes rather than to
“...In a world so driven by... 24/7 change... we start to lose our place in the world, in our own world—in our haven, our sanctuary, our personal or safe place, our home...” Thomas P. Foley
common ground, let alone to what Martin Luther King described as a “single garment of destiny.” Words like “compromise” and “globalization” and even “diversity” are mostly now loaded terms with pejorative meanings. And so last year, we focused our speaker series on “Civil Discourse”— the idea that how we communicate in person, in public and on the internet should at all times be responsive and respectful, without compromising our beliefs or the passion behind them. We brought 11 speakers to campus, sponsored 15 events around the theme—in the classroom, in our lecture series and even in the
dormitory. And Mt Aloysius received national recognition for our emphatic approach to the topic. This year, we come at the same problem—Freidman’s “flat” world and my “divided’ one— from a slightly different angle. In the midst of all that diversity of opinion—the “divided world” that I referred to—there is one constant. And that constant is change—maybe the only constant in your young lives. The danger in a world so driven by change—24/7 driven—is that the sheer pace of that change—and sometimes the sheer non-sense and unfathom
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ways to communicate with each other, we do not want to lose sight of the essential gallantry that is inherent in good writing. We would like to host a lecture on the “hospitality” of writing, on how good writing can open up Thomas P. Foley new worlds of ideas, of geography, of feelings.” We are grateful that this ability of some of it—means we start to And so this year, we focus our attention husband and wife—32 years married— lose our place in the world, in our own on a theme that responds, we hope, accepted our invitation. world—in our haven, our sanctuary, our to all that constant change—“Finding personal or safe place, our home—as we Home in a Changing World,” which we We believe that Pulitzer Prize-winner try to deal with these 24/7 “inputs.” symbolize with one word from among David Shribman and Professor Cindy the four Mercy core values and that Skrzycki are almost uniquely qualified This 24/7 pace means that you are word is “Hospitality.” as a couple to speak to this topic— bombarded every time you open your David because of your editorial writing laptop or turn on the TV. This 24/7 pace We have addressed the theme a number work at the Post-Gazette and your means that you can get overwhelmed of times already this year—and the superb handling of the Sunday editorial with what Dean of Faculty Dr. Fulop back of your program lists some of page in general (among many other rereferred to as the “look and lifestyles those efforts. Today, we embrace this sponsibilities at the paper); and Cindy of the Kardashians” to the exclusion theme of hospitality—“Finding Home because of your role as a teacher of of what he called, in his Convocation in a Changing World”—with this Fall writing at a major university (one who remarks, a “liberated mind.” Honors Lecture on “The Hospitality of has just won an award in her profession Writing,” delivered by two outstanding from her students and colleagues). This 24/7 pace means that in keeping up practitioners of the art.” Thank you for coming to Mt Aloysius with all that information, all the political, College. § fashion, and lifestyle exhortations that When I asked them to come, I wrote are directed at you (and at you personally these words to them: “The idea here with the technology that is now available is that in an age when young people to internet marketeers), the sheer effort are encouraged by their modes of of keeping up can cause you to lose your communication to use fewer and fewer own place in the world, in your world. words in more and more impersonal
“...In an age when young people are encouraged by their modes of communication to use fewer words in more and more impersonal ways... we do not want to lose sight of the essential gallantry that is inherent in good writing.”
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The Hospitality of Writing David Shribman
Mount Aloysius College October 25, 2012 The academic world and the press have always had a symbiotic relationship. I said symbiotic, I didn’t say respectful. In 1890, Charles W. Eliot, the president of Harvard, dismissed reporters as “drunkards, deadbeats and bummers.” So you drunkards, deadbeats and bummers of the school paper and the literary magazine, I greet and salute you on this marvelous occasion. I salute you the way my favorite author, Samuel Johnson would have done. In The Idler, which was a somewhat better newspaper than The Post-Gazette or The Belltower, he wrote in 1758…
“A newswriter is a man without virtue, who writes lies at home for his own profit. To these compositions is required neither genius nor knowledge, neither industry nor sprightliness; but contempt of shame and indifference to truth are absolutely necessary.” So that is the theme of my talk tonight — genius and knowledge, industry and truth, hospitality and writing.
Someone, — H.L. Mencken, it turns out—once said that journalism was “a craft to be mastered in four days, and abandoned at the first sign of a better job.” It has taken me more than 30 years, and I’ve yet to get a better job. But then again, Mencken thought the average American newspaper, especially of the so-called better sort — and maybe he had a paper that describes itself as “One of America’s Great Newspapers” in mind— “has the intelligence of a Baptist evangelist, the courage of a rat, the fairness of a Prohibitionist boob-bumper, the information of a high school janitor, the taste of a designer of celluloid valentines, and the honor of a police-station lawyer.” Right about that. In any case, this isn’t a bad way to earn a living, and in typing these remarks I discovered that the words earn and learn are separated by one letter, which is a happy thing for people like us. Now, as you know, our topic today is hospitality and writing, which ordinarily might seem two concepts that have nothing to do with each other. Hospitality, after all, is a social noun, and it involves social practice. Writing is a solitary act that in its purest form is a practice of independence. Only in newsmagazines and in calculus textbooks do you see much in the way of collaboration in writing, and you can hardly call either of them writing, or acts of hospitality.
mental gymnastics, but the exercise is worth the doing. Let’s start, as we should here in a community of faith — a Catholic college tucked in these pleasant hills — with some remarks from the Catholic author and priest Henri J.M. Nouwen, whose works influenced me as a young man. He had a lot of interesting — incendiary — provocative — ideas about spirituality, and he has a very intriguing definition of hospitality. “Hospitality,” he wrote, “means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.” So let’s examine that a bit. Good writing does exactly what Father Henri says it does. It creates free space where strangers can enter. It offers them a chance to change. It does not bludgeon, H.L. Mencken excepted. It welcomes. It offers the ultimate kind of freedom: the freedom to be moved by words, the freedom to think about words, the freedom to let words change our minds. What about this seeming incompatibility between social hospitality and solitary writing?
But these words are not contradictory, and in the course of some minutes today, I aim to argue that they are in fact complementary. This may take a few moments, and it will require some
“Hospitality... means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.” J.M. Nouwen
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effect. The Old Testament. Paradise Lost, in which God’s ways are explained to man. Macbeth. The Rights of Man. Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Das Kapital. Herbert Croly’s The Promise of American Life, written about a century ago. Mein Kampf, written in 1925 and affects us to this day. The General Theory of Economics by John Maynard Keynes. Profiles in Courage by Senator John F. Kennedy.
I never thought of this very much until I was a young reporter and was given a wonderful assignment in 1981 to interview a fellow named William Manchester who wrote several wonderful books: a two-volume biography of Winston Churchill, a wonderful biography of McArthur, and the greatest book, even today, about the terrible events and sadness of November 1963 — the death of the President. We were talking in the lobby of a hotel in Washington. I asked him about a particularly vivid and personal piece of his writing in his book. The book was his memoir as a Marine. And he said, “David, I wrote that book sitting alone in a room with the intention that it might be read by someone like you… sitting alone in a room.” It’s that communion between a man and a woman sitting alone in a room talking directly over the ages, sometimes over the centuries to someone else sitting alone in a room that’s the very richness of this experience. No form of thought is so deep…so deeply revolutionary as the written word. No act of hospitality is so meaningful. I jotted down just a few examples of the written word that might have the same 36 | Mount Aloysius College
Writing is the key that unlocks not only the workplace, but the place of worship. Not only the ways to see the world and ways to earn a living, but a way to enhance the mind and to live your life. For it was Sir Francis Bacon who said, “Reading maketh a full man. Conference, a ready man. And writing, an exact man.” And while I’ve provided a kind of Cook’s tour of great writing, in effect I’ve cited the Harvard Classics in a speech by a Dartmouth man to a college run by a fellow from Yale Law School. B.F. Skinner was right when he put it this way, “We shouldn’t teach great books, we should just teach the love of reading.” Now I want to talk for a moment about the other element mentioned in that remark I quoted by Samuel Johnson. That would be the truth. Because as Father Henri might have said, freedom and truth are brothers. Not too long ago I pulled out of a file the famous cover of Time magazine with a picture of Pope John Paul II and the headline, in red: John Paul, Superstar. It is a third of a century old now, and in its zeal to capture the rock-star appeal of the new pontiff, it seems almost trivial and faintly disrespectful. Perhaps that is because we now know what we could not have known then, that before he would die, John Paul would be credited with ending the scourge of communism and carrying an uplifting and irresistible message of hope, peace, and love to people beyond his flock and to nations that once were beyond the reach of
Catholicism. But if John Paul were swiftly identifiable as a media star, then he also should be recognized as an astute student, and a ferocious defender of freedom, of the truth, and of the hospitality of spiritualism. This is of no trivial importance, particularly in an age of mass communications and nave-to-nave coverage. It is not only because the pontiff understood the uses of the media — the way they could be shaped, harnessed and directed; it is also because the pontiff understood the responsibility of the media — the way they should comport themselves, the way they should use their power, the way they should exert their moral authority. And more than anyone of his time or ours, he understood the power of words. Now it may be appropriate to pause for a moment of reflection on the words and images John Paul used to counsel those who work with words. They are deeply inspirational, and they are deeply sobering. As a very young man — I had lived fewer years than John Paul would serve as pope — I was given the greatest reporting assignment of my life, the
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chance to accompany the pope on his six-day trip to the United States. I mention this not to share an editor’s sentimental memories, but to say that the words he said to those of us who accompanied him have been seared in my memory. I know them almost by heart. They are words to live by, and I can only say that I have tried.
“You are indeed servants of truth; you are its tireless transmitters, diffusers, defenders. You are dedicated communicators, promoting unity among all nations by sharing truth among all peoples.” There is a lot of pompous talk in our culture about the truth, and I always cringe when I hear it and, worse yet, when I talk that way myself. We have no more idea what the truth is than anyone else; we’re not equipped with special powers, either legal or corporeal, and we have the same flaws as our critics, except, almost always, in greater doses. All we can do is to offer a fair representation of what we believe the truth is.
“We ought to be truthful — to ourselves, to our readers, to the people we cover — about our motives, truthful about our methods, truthful about our limits... Being servants of the truth is worthy of our best years, our finest talents, our most dedicated efforts. It is the ultimate act of hospitality.” David Shribman
The key word here is fair, a word not unfamiliar to John Paul himself, for if you distill most of what he said, beautiful though the rhetoric was, what he represented, along with faith, was fairness — another form of hospitality. Fairness is a gentle word, far gentler than the ones used to assail or defend the media, but — again, along with faith and truth — it may be the most powerful word on earth.
“Be faithful to the truth and to its transmission, for truth endures; truth will not go away. Truth will not pass or change.” Now here’s the pope talking again about truth, but I believe that what he means here, along with its spiritual sense, is that truth ought to be applied to the
work of being fair. We ought to be truthful — to ourselves, to our readers, to the people we cover — about our motives, truthful about our methods, truthful about our limits. That is because truth is a goal perhaps unattainable. I have read more newspaper stories than almost anyone within eye’s length of this podium. I have never read one that was fully the truth. There are stories in which every statement was true, to be sure. But truth is a question not only of what is included in a piece but also of what is omitted. There is no piece of writing long enough, broad enough, or smart enough that it
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does not tempt human frailty by being incomplete, or poorly focused.
“And I say to you — take it as my parting word to you — that in the service of truth, the service of humanity through the medium of the truth — is something worthy of your best years, your finest talents, your most dedicated efforts.” That is the best we can do. We can serve truth. We cannot achieve it. We can enlist fairness in the service of truth. Sometimes that angers our readers, sometimes it angers the people and institutions we cover. But that’s our job. That’s our calling. In these days, we in our small corner of the culture can emulate the last pope in searching for truth, but we probably ought to emulate him in another way as well. We should remember what perhaps is the greatest irony of perhaps the greatest figure of our age: the sheer humility of the man. He never underestimated the size of his mission, but he never made himself greater than that mission. That, too, was an example of spiritual hospitality. That’s where many of us who are writers have failed. We think we know the truth 38 | Mount Aloysius College
when we do not. We have been so sure of the truths that we think we know that we have sometimes forgotten to be fair. We are often not humble. A lot of this was easier to remember when — and it is part of my memory if not of yours — we were but scribblers on a page that soon would turn to dust. The technological revolution has changed all that. But it hasn’t changed the potency of the pope’s words from 1979, the text of which was recorded by a typewriter. Being servants of the truth is worthy of our best years, our finest talents, our most dedicated efforts. It is the ultimate act of hospitality. §
“...Good writing can welcome you into a world you don’t care about or one that you think you already know—but don’t.” Cindy Skrzycki
The Hospitality of Writing Cindy Skrzycki
Mount Aloysius College October 25, 2012 Can I bring a gift? Bring nothing but yourself. You’ve heard that before, often when you get an invitation to a nice dinner and you are honored and excited to be asked. Here, the host is honoring you, extending exceptional hospitality by telling you to come and just bring yourself. No flowers, wine or other gifts. Just yourself. That’s how encountering exceptional writing should make you feel. Like it was written for you and you are having a special relationship with the author. Or, conversely, you are doing the writing and, by doing it well, you are
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giving readers the ultimate invitation: Come with me and read what I have written for you. Writing may be a solitary pursuit, but every writer seeks readers and, ultimately, publication. In other words, the very intimate act of writing becomes a very public and welcoming one whether it’s a memoir, an account of a battle by a soldier on the field, a blog post by a new mother in a state of wonderment, or a scientist explaining why we need to understand the importance of the three pounds of bacteria we carry around in our bodies. A poem. Writing is a way of knowing and, when shared, it is a remarkable gift. I now teach writing for a living and spent most of my career putting words on paper for large numbers of people to read them. Through that act, and my voice, they got to know me— what I thought about an issue; how I approached a story; what I was willing to put on paper; what kinds of responses I provoked in them. Any of you who are taking writing classes know that kind of writing— where readers can actually hear you—is
called voice. And it’s an important thing to develop because it gives the audience an idea of what kind of welcome you are giving them.
seems to me, best suited to accommodate, and be ornamented by, a loner. It is essentially a lonely game.”
Some writers are exhibitionists; some are word engineers, critics, comedians, intellectuals, seers and revisionists. As we get to know them and their voices, we come to view them as friends, opponents, opportunists, mythical relatives or, even, ourselves. When I select readings for my classes, I look for writers who will open up a part of the world that may have long passed; or one where there is so much pain no one really visits there much anymore; or where the words are so beautiful that students can’t help but fall over the threshold into a subject they never considered reading about. Sports is sometimes one of these.
Or this by Tom Boswell on Sugar Ray Leonard’s bout with Roberto Duran in 1980:
Let me share this passage with you, written by John Updike, about the baseball player Ted Williams:
“Williams is an icy star. But of all team sports, baseball, with its graceful intermittences of action, its immense and tranquil field sparsely settled with poised men in white, its dispassionate mathematics,
“But boxing never changes. One central truth lies at its heart and it never alters: pain is the most powerful and tangible force in life. The threat of torture, for instance, is stronger than the threat of death. Execution can be faced, but pain is corrosive, like an acid eating at the personality. Pain is a priority. It may even be man’s strongest and most undeniable reality. And that is why the fight game stirs us, even as it repels us.” No matter if you know nothing about boxing and don’t much like baseball. This is writing that takes you into a new room where the writing goes to the essence of humanity, with sports as the avatar. Only good writing can welcome you into a world you don’t care about or one that you think you already know— but don’t. It should leave you surprised.
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Writers think about the process of writing a lot and some have very secretive, stealth ways of approaching the page. Again, it’s a solitary pursuit that takes the discipline and practice of an athlete. But all of it involves thinking and discovering what you think. The magic is that you capture thoughts and arrange them in a way that only happens once. The author Peter Taylor, who wrote The Old Forest and Other Stories, said, “Writing is how you discover what you think.” Take Martha Gellhorn. It wasn’t until she encountered as a young journalist in 1937 a war, a battlefield, and the bloody limbs of small children that she came to know what she thought about war and peace. In a piece called “High Explosive for Everyone,” she wrote:
“A small piece of twisted steel, hot and very sharp, sprays off from the shell; it takes the little boy in the throat. The old woman stands there, holding the hand of the dead child, looking at him stupidly, not saying anything, and men run out toward here to carry the child At their left, at the side of the square, is a huge brilliant sign which says: GET OUT OF MADRID.”
Writing is a way of understanding our flaws, of changing our minds. Of inviting others to change our minds for us. Of allowing us to identify with the worst and best of mankind. One of the periods in our history where writing became essential to understanding ourselves was the Civil Rights era. Though television is credited with capturing the hatred of Bull Connor, the sour racism of the Birmingham bombers, and the stubbornness of Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, some of the most stark portrayals of racism came from reporters who witnessed the hiss of the crowd when, in 1957, the Little Rock Nine tried to integrate the city’s public high school. Or when they were at the Pettus Bridge in Alabama when Roy Reed of the New York Times used his pen as a camera to capture this:
“The next sound was the major’s voice. “Troopers advance,” he commanded. The troopers rushed forward, their blue uniforms and white helmets blurring into a flying wedge as they moved. The wedge moved with such force that it seemed to pass over the waiting column instead
of through it. The first 10 or 20 Negroes were swept to the ground screaming, arms and legs flying, and packs and bags went skittering across the grassy divider strip and onto the pavement on both sides. The mounted possemen spurred their horses and rode at a run into the retreating mass. The Negroes cried out as they crowded together for protection, and the whites on the sidelines whooped and cheered.” Or the 1960s, when writers like Joan Didion took readers to San Francisco to get a sense of the confused runaways who went to Haight Street “where missing children were gathering and calling themselves hippies.” As America struggled with deep fissures in its social order, Didion wrote this unforgettable opening to her story, “Slouching Toward Bethlehem”:
“The center was not holding. It was a country of bankruptcy notices and public-auction announcements and commonplace reports of casual killings and misplaced children and abandoned homes and vandals who misspelled the four-letter words they scrawled. It was a country in which families routinely disappeared, trailing bad checks and repossession papers. It was not a country in open revolution. It was not a country under enemy siege. It was the United States of America in the cold late spring of 1967....” And I cannot leave out Theodore White, who wrote the Making of the President 1960, which used slow-cadence writing to show us, for the first time, the private life of a presidential candidate—a template. One of my favorite characterizations of the Kennedy-Nixon race:
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“Writing is a way of understanding our flaws, of changing our minds. Of inviting others to change our minds for us. Of allowing us to identify with the worst and best of mankind.” Cindy Skrzycki
“For John F. Kennedy, Round One began in euphoria, sagged swiftly almost to despair, then rose to a point of cautious hope. Kennedy had flown directly from Los Angeles and the Convention to Cape Cod and Hyannisport. There the sun shone through milk-blue skies, and the breeze whipped whitecaps off Nantucket Sound as it scrubbed the dunes clean. Home again with wife and child, Jackie and brother Bobbie in the Marlin, the candidate could let his nerve fibers mend... within the compound the candidate and his brother Robert wandered back and forth across the lawn to each other’s homes, or lounged, stripped to the waist, on beach chairs in the sun and slowly began to talk politics again....”
Wouldn’t we be grateful to have that kind of grace note in this election....? The value of a liberal arts education is in learning to think, to let yourself open doors. Reading and writing are the essential bulwarks of a liberal arts degree and they provide the necessary exercises for learning how to think in ways both subtle and grandiose. I tell my students writing is hard. It is a discipline. Writing is addictive. Writing can lead to despair. It calls for empathy, a keen ear, a musical voice, patience, a sharp eye, and most of all, a mind that notices everything and then can shift those images to words.
William Zinsser, in the 30th anniversary edition of his oft-assigned book, On Writing Well, sends this admonishment:
“I don’t know what still newer marvels will make writing twice as easy in the next thirty years. But I do know they won’t make writing twice as good. That will still require plain old hard thinking...and the plain old tools of the English language.” In the spirit of true hospitality, I welcome you to pull up a chair and write as much as you can and read even more. It may be the one true path to experiencing the best of a liberal arts education: learning how to think. §
The process of writing requires just bringing yourself. No fancy computer programs, no tweets, no personal webpages. Whatever the technological advances or thoughts that the electronic world allows everyone to be a writer, there are constants.
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David M. Shribman, became executive editor of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on February 3, 2003. He came to Pittsburgh from The Boston Globe where he was assistant managing editor, columnist and Washington bureau chief. Mr. Shribman graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College in 1976 and was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. He did graduate work at Cambridge University, England, as a James Reynolds Scholar. He joined The Globe after serving as national political correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, he covered Congress and national politics for The New York Times and was a member of the national staff of The Washington Star. A native of Salem, Massachusetts, he began his career at The Buffalo Evening News, where he worked on the city staff before being assigned to the paper’s Washington bureau. Mr. Shribman was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in journalism in 1995 for his coverage of Washington and the American political scene. His column, “My Point,” is syndicated nationally.
Mr. Shribman was a regular panelist on the PBS show Washington Week in Review and a frequent analyst for BBC radio. His I Remember My Teacher, a tribute to the nation’s great educators, was published in April 2002. He has lectured at universities and colleges around the country. Shribman delivered the Lyndon Baines Johnson Distinguished Lecture at Southwest Texas State University and the Charles Hall Dillon Lecture at the University of South Dakota. Mr. Shribman is an emeritus member of the Board of Trustees of Dartmouth College and of the Board of Visitors of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for the Social Sciences at Dartmouth. He is a member of the selection committee for the Profiles in Courage Award given by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and for the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award given by Colby College, Waterville, Maine. He also is a member of the national board of the Calvin Coolidge Foundation, Plymouth, Vermont. Cindy Skrzycki is an award-winning, full-time senior lecturer in the English Department at the University of Pittsburgh and is a business correspondent for
GlobalPost.com, a news service based in Boston. She is the 2012 recipient of the Tina & David Bellet Teaching Excellence Award at the University of Pittsburgh, an annual award given to two faculty members. Prior to joining Global Post in 2009, Skrzycki was a business columnist for Bloomberg News, a worldwide financial news service. She then was a consultant to another Bloomberg publication called BGov. She was on staff at The Washington Post for 18 years, covering federal regulatory issues, management, and technology. She has a special expertise in the business of federal regulation and lobbying and wrote a weekly column called “The Regulators” for more than a decade. Before joining The Post, she was an associate business editor at U.S. News & World Report, specializing in transportation issues, and a Washington correspondent for The Fort Worth StarTelegram, where she covered the gamut of business topics. She also worked in the Washington bureau of the Fairchild News Service, covering the steel industry, and was a business writer for The Buffalo Evening News. Born in Buffalo, N.Y., she is an honors graduate of Canisius College, where she was editor of the student newspaper, The Griffin, and a member of the DiGamma Honor Society. She is a former, three-term member of the board of trustees of Canisius College. She also holds a master’s degree in public affairs and journalism from the American University, Washington, D.C. She is the author of The Regulators: The Anonymous Power Brokers Who Shape Your Life. She is a member of the board of directors of the Three Rivers Youth Orchestra in Pittsburgh and a former member of the Pitt News Advisory Board.
Speakers are joined by Belltower Editorial Staffers (L-R) Mindy Gates, Kait Kuzio and John Moist.
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She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband, David Shribman. David and Cindy are the parents of two daughters, Elizabeth and Natalie.
Year of Hospitality | August, 2013
My Five Dinners with Ahmadinejad: Hospitality as a Context for Foreign Policy
Mount Aloysius College 2013 Spring Moral Choices Lecture Delivered by Dr. Jim Walsh March 12, 2013
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Thomas P. Foley, President Mount Aloysius College We asked Dr. Jim Walsh to join us here tonight at Mount Aloysius College for at least four different reasons. First, Jim is the perfect segue from last year’s beautifully presented lectures by Dr. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the Director of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, and founder of FactCheck and FlackCheck.com. Frankly, we were desperate to find someone who could match Dr. Jamieson’s hundreds of appearances on national airwaves, and I want to tell you that we’ve found him. At last count, Jim was coming up on his thousandth appearance—and I am sure his daughter Corey is going to love how I’m about to describe him—his thousandth appearance as a “talking head.” So he’s a good match for Dr. Hall Jamieson. Second, Jim is also a perfect segue from last year’s yearlong Mount Aloysius speaker series theme on civil discourse. Jim is a devoted practitioner of the art, and I need only one proof of that claim. His supporters that follow him on CNN are just as rabid about Jim as his supporters who follow him on Fox, and we have the blogs and the tweets to prove it.
Jim’s resume is impressive and a much edited version appears in your program. Yes, he has hundreds of appearances on major news shows in America and 30 foreign countries. Yes, he is a prolific author, with more than 50 articles in journals and major newspapers around the country and the world and a new book due out later this year from Yale University Press. Yes, he won the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship from the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Yes, he is the author of one of the “ten best and original ideas for 2008”, as chosen by the British paper The Independent. And yes, Jim was described in this month’s edition of Foreign Policy magazine as “one of the world’s top military thinkers.” I should add that he is perhaps the only one on that list also named a Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar by the US Institute for Peace. No more words from me in this regard. Jim is very talented, he’s very thoughtful, and he’s highly respected in his field, far beyond his home base in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And I’m delighted to welcome my friend, Jim Walsh, to Mount Aloysius College to deliver the Sixth Annual Moral Choices Lecture. Thank you.
Third, Jim gracefully fit his topic and his expertise neatly into our yearlong exploration of the Mercy and Mount Aloysius core value of hospitality, which we have pursued with the theme, Finding Home in a Changing World. We’ve heard from a self-described Hunger Games/Harry Potter philosopher about the challenge for young people especially, of “finding home in an often inhospitable world.” We’ve heard from a Catholic bishop and canon lawyer on the theology of hospitality, from a Pulitzer Prize winner on the hospitality of writing, from our own faculty on hospitality in the digital age, and now from Jim on his topic, My Five Dinners with Ahmadinejad: Hospitality as a Context for Foreign Policy. So, we thank him for adapting his first-hand, front-line experiences in Iran and North Korea to our speaker series theme here in the Southern Allegheny Mountains. Finally, Jim’s special expertise allows us to explore again the idea of Moral Choices about which Sister Helen Marie Burns, Ph.D. spoke with fervor in her welcome. In past years, Mt Aloysius has focused this lecture on death and dying, on the environment, on sex and sexuality, last year on civil discourse in public life and this year, thanks to Jim’s quite remarkable depth on the topic—on the issue of foreign policy. Thank you for that, Jim. Mount Aloysius College | 47
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My Five Dinners with Ahmadinejad:
Hospitality as a Context for Foreign Policy fhdfgdhfgh Mount Aloysius College Dr. Jim Walsh March 12, 2013 Introduction
Thank you very much for that generous introduction, Tom Foley— President Foley. You know, I just got back from Seoul, South Korea, a week-and-a-half ago, right after North Korea’s nuclear test, right before the inauguration of the new South Korean President. I was supposed to be in Iran last week, but the government ran into problems issuing a visa, so I’ve been doing a lot of travel. And travel takes its toll. But when I got a call from President Foley asking if I might be available to come and be with you, my answer was, When can I come? There are few people I know, in my tender years, that I have a stronger opinion about than Tom Foley. He is a decent person to the core. You know, I don’t think you can really overstate how important that is. He’s decent to the core, someone I trust, someone I cherish as a friend (even though we don’t see each other very often); someone who holds to his path and code in life, and yet also is just tremendously effective and tremendously funny and a good steward. So, I congratulate all of you on your good choice. You are lucky people to have him as your president. I am lucky to have him as my friend. I want to say that I appreciate how well I’ve been treated since I arrived here. We had a marvelous dinner and reception, and I got to participate with some terrific students in a 48 | Mount Aloysius College
class on terrorism. You know, almost everything has been great. The one thing that I have a problem with is the event poster. You know, first of all, Ahmadinejad’s name is in bigger letters than my name. So whoever did that, you know, not so good. But it’s not the worst poster I’ve had. I had one that showed my face superimposed on a seventy-story tall nuclear explosion.
Background Let me now turn to the actual topic tonight, “My Five Dinners with Ahmadinejad.” I took this picture. That’s George Stephanopoulos’ arm in
the lower left corner. I took this with my iPhone. That’s the Iranian Ambassador to the U.N. That’s President Ahmadinejad. That’s the Foreign Minister. And I’ve had occasion when the President comes to New York—as all world leaders do in September of every year to attend the opening of the United Nations—to engage with him and ask him questions. And so I’m going to use that as the stepping stone to talk about a broader theme of hospitality and international relations. Let me give you a sense of where I’m coming from on this issue. I’ve been to Iran a number of times; have met with Iranians in what are called Track II meetings, where people meet with
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the “knowledge of their government” but not officially as “government representatives.” I spent a fair amount of time with the Iranian President, and I’ve met a bunch of folks throughout the system of the Iranian government.
statements, generalizations. The Iranians—the Iranians feel that they were once a great civilization under Cyrus. They are Persians, not Arabs. They are Persians, not Turks. And when they look around southwest Asia, they think they’re the top dog or that they deserve to be the top dog, that they are special and different in the same way that Americans think that they’re special and different and that they have a special charge in the world. They think that about themselves. And so I think psychology—maybe it’s not as important as power, but it’s not trivial.
In the Iranian government, the President is not like the President of the United States. The Supreme Leader is the “decider” in the Iranian system. And it’s a system in which power is shared among many institutions. In point of fact, the presidency is relatively weak compared to some of those institutions. In sum, I’ve had the chance to chat with a lot of officials who represent different points of view, different factions and different institutions within Iran. Similarly, I’ve been to North Korea and I’ve participated in Track II meetings there. I’ve spent hours with Pak Ui-Chun as he’s risen through the ranks. He’s now Foreign Minister of North Korea. And I’ve had a chance to consult with other people in the region, in China, South Korea and elsewhere, about the Korean situation, which has also evolved over time.
What Matters This talk is about hospitality and international relations. So maybe the first place to start is to ask ourselves, what is important in the conduct of international politics or foreign policy? Well as a scholar, that’s what I’m trained to study. And there’s a long body of scholarship about what’s important in the way countries make decisions and the way they interact with other countries. And this is sort of the normal list. [See box above] And the one that always comes up first is power, how you act in the international system, how you react to others depends on how much power you have, your military might, your economic might, how big is your GDP? And then, with that power, what are the national interests you pursue? 50 | Mount Aloysius College
Now for most countries the national interest at the top of their agenda is security. They want to stay in power. They want to stay in the game, and so they want to stay around as a country. They don’t want to go the way of the Soviet Union. Geography—Americans forget about geography, but to the rest of the world turns out to be pretty important. We are blessed because we are surrounded by two large oceans and two large, weak allies. Those are our borders— two oceans and two large, weak allies. You know, if you grew up in a country that was on the border of Germany, or you grew up in a country on the border of Russia or China, you would have a much more complex international context in which to conduct foreign policy. So for a lot of countries, not so much for us because we enjoy such terrific luck, geography—who are your neighbors—is a big deal. Psychology, this is one component that the literature tends to stress, that scholars tend to stress. Psychology—I think countries make decisions based on pride. The Americans are very prideful. The French are prideful. I know these are sort of broad cultural
Domestic politics. A lot of foreign policy is not about the other guy across the ocean or across the border, it’s about what’s happening inside your borders. You’re conducting a foreign policy because one foreign policy is going to win you support from a domestic constituency that you need in order to get reelected or to pass a bill or whatever. The foreign is about the domestic. Ideas. In recent years, in political science and in international relations, there’s been more attention to the role of ideas. Some of these people are called Constructivists. And these ideas take all sorts of forms—they can be good ideas or bad ideas. As an example, there’s religion. There have been a lot of wars fought over religion throughout the centuries. Nationalism, certainly World War II, you could argue, was the result of hyper nationalism, at least in East Asia, as Japan tried to expand and colonize other countries. And in the United States, liberty is an idea that seems to have galvanized people. So this seems to be the list of things that most scholars of international relations refer to when they talk about how and why countries act on the international stage. And the thing that they tend to stress is the last thing on the list—liberty. States are independent and sovereign. There’s no court that can tell them what to do. You know, if you break a law here in
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the United States, the police arrest you, you go to trial, and you’re sent to jail if you’re guilty.
most important word, relationship— between host and guest. So what are the elements of hospitality?
There’s nothing like that in the international system. It’s very hard to force states to do something you want them to do, if they don’t want to do it because they are independent and sovereign. So the system that works internationally is not the system that we enjoy domestically.
I remember when I was a kid and my parents would take me to visit friends and we would have dinner at their house, and then they would come and have dinner at our house. Now, I was always told to be on my best behavior. You know, there were things I could do at home that I was not supposed to do when I was at someone else’s house. And I was taught to show respect for that other person’s home.
Now, you look at all that, and to my disappointment and my concern, since we have another 50 minutes or more left, hospitality does not appear on that list. So where does hospitality fit in?
Hospitality in Foreign Policy? The thing that the mind first races to when thinking about hospitality in a foreign policy context is, well...I’ve been in ambassadors’ offices, and everyone is so gracious. And at the U.N. there’s tremendous protocol, and you call people by certain names and you serve tea, and you do things and you deliver messages that have fancy words to them. There’s this whole system and formality and way of doing things that is similar to hospitality. When you visit countries on official visits, there is this whole protocol. The White House has a protocol officer. The State Department has a protocol officer. But you sense in the international relations literature, while that is all true, it’s not really that important. You know, that’s just cosmetics. That’s the make-up on the pig. Yes, everyone’s acting nice and they have these rituals, but really, underneath it all, it’s really about power and who’s big and who’s small. So that doesn’t look very promising.
Hospitality in Daily Life So I tried to go back to the beginning and I just asked myself what is hospitality? Hospitality, as I understand it, is a relationship—and that’s the
And then there was a reciprocity and a mutuality to this. We would be invited to someone’s home and we would bring a bottle of wine. They would be providing dinner. We would invite them over to dinner. They would invite us over to dinner. There was a meeting of equals in which there was sharing and reciprocity back and forth from people who lived in different places. There was often a cessation of hostilities. Maybe I wasn’t getting along with my neighbor’s son at the time they were being invited over for dinner, but I put that aside and I was on my best behavior during dinner, and vice
“So I tried to go back to the beginning and I just asked myself what is hospitality? Hospitality, as I understand it, is a relationship—and that’s the most important word, relationship — between host and guest...”
versa. There was generosity. There was empathy. The point of hospitality is to make someone feel at home. How do you make someone feel at home? You imagine how they see the world. You look at the world through their eyes. In understanding where they are coming from, you are able to reach out to them and make them feel welcome. And finally, although no one would have thought of it or put it in these terms, it’s about vulnerability and trust. I’m inviting you into my house. You’re going to go in my bathroom, look in the medicine cabinet. You’re going to see my house; it may not be as neat as it should be or there’s jewelry and money in the drawers, but you trust that the people that you are hosting are worthy of trust. And you open yourself up and you make yourself vulnerable in a spirit of generosity, empathy and reciprocity. That’s what happens when folks go over to each other’s house for dinner. It might not feel that way at the time, but if you think about it, that’s what’s going on there.
Hospitality in International Relations Now, let’s talk about international relations. This involves the exercise of exactly the same rules of relationship just discussed: rules of behavior, respect, reciprocity. In the international system, in which states can do whatever they want, it’s hard to force them to do something. The way things get done is that the countries that are friends and countries that are adversaries have relations. Mount Aloysius College | 51
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Remember that question: What is hospitality? It is a relationship. And it is neccessary if you expect to get something done in foreign policy, even with countries you don’t like, that you think are the enemy—the Soviet Union was the enemy. They had 20,000-plus nuclear weapons. We had 2,000-plus thousand nuclear weapons. We managed to get through it and not kill each other. And the only reason we did is because we had a relationship. Now, we didn’t like each other and we fought tooth and nail and we tried to cause problems for the other side, and everyone danced when the Soviet Union died. But during that whole dangerous period, there was a relationship in which there were rules of behavior, where there was respect for the adversary. You didn’t respect their system, but you respected them as a sovereign state. Reciprocity and mutuality, you do something for me, I do something for you. Cessation of hostilities. As I read treaty negotiations, for example, countries tend to be better behaved when they’re negotiating than when they are outside of negotiations.
“if I don’t understand how you see the world and you are my enemy, then we’re going to have problems. We’re going to make mistakes, and we may even fight wars...”
When countries sit down and they talk to one another to work out an arms control agreement, to work out a refugee agreement, a narcotics agreement, whatever they’re working on, they tend to be better behaved. They tend to stop throwing stones when they’re sitting down and talking, at least for that period, and then they 52 | Mount Aloysius College
go back to what they were doing before.
Generosity and empathy. You know, the key for me in dealing with Iran and North Korea is empathy, not in the normative sense of, “I want to share your feelings and views and beliefs,” but empathy in the sense of trying to understand how you see the world. Because if I don’t understand how you see the world and you are my enemy, then we’re going to have problems. We’re going to make mistakes, and we may even fight wars. So this is empathy that is principled, based on reasons of national interest.
And perhaps you’re thinking: That’s all very nice, Dr. Walsh, but is it true in practice? That sounds like good theorizing but is that really what happens? Do respect or reciprocity, alter a country’s behavior? Will tyrants play nice if we are more hospitable?
And then finally, again, vulnerability and trust. There is no agreement that you can make with another country that is ironclad—100 percent, can never be broken—and which if broken can be enforced by some grand international court that will force a country to comply or force it to stop its bad behavior.
Let’s back up now. Having laid down sort of the theory part of this, let’s back up and talk about American foreign policy. American foreign policy is known historically for two big characteristics, a moralizing tendency and power. The historian Richard Hofstadter wrote many years ago about the moralizing tendency in American foreign policy. And this fits this lecture series because it raises important dilemmas.
When you enter into agreements like we did with the Soviet Union, like we did with Libya to rid them of their nuclear weapons program, in all cases you try to verify—trust but verify—but at the end of the day, there’s no eliminating some of the vulnerability, and there’s no eliminating a requirement of trust. You try to minimize that. You don’t want to lead with that. But at the end of the day, in human institutions, there’s no avoiding that. So these are the elements of hospitality, and these are the elements of international relations when countres—countries you like, your allies, and countries you don’t like, your adversaries—are forced to have relationships in order to solve problems. So it’s about relationships, rules and values that regulate the behavior of the state. Because in the absence of those, in the absence of relationships, rules, and values, states will do whatever they want. And it’s very hard to stop them from doing whatever they want.
Hospitality and American
And the answer is a surprise. The answer is, ironically, that those elements are most useful for the worst and most vexing problems. So let me explain why. And I’m going to do so by looking at American foreign policy.
You’d think that having a moral foreign policy would be a good thing, and it is. You know, we would criticize those cynical European diplomats who would cut deals over national interest, who had no sense of norms, who would buy lunch for the devil if they could get what they wanted. And we said, no, some things are important. Human rights are important. Slavery is important. And so we tend to have a more moralizing, in some cases finger-wagging, foreign policy. We also have, by luck and hard work, tremendous power, tremendous, overwhelming international power in a post-war period—greater wealth, more allies, more weapons, more of everything. Essentially, the U.S. was calling the shots within its sphere, in the international system, after the end of World War II. Everyplace else was devastated. Russia was destroyed. Europe was aflame. Japan had Hiroshima. And we were the one left standing, and we enjoyed tremendous
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benefits from that. So what happens when you take good intentions, virtually limitless power, and you put them together? Well, there’s a strong tendency to want to say to that country who’s your enemy or who you don’t agree with: “You’re wrong and you’re going to do what I say. And if you don’t do what I say, I’m going to force you to do what I want—because we’ve got all the power and we’ve got the values.” You think you’re right, and you probably are. You’re right, and you have the power, so you’re going to force people—these bad people—to do the things you want them to do.
if it makes up 98 percent of U.S. foreign policy…sanctions. What do you do? We’re punishing that side. We say: You’re going to stop doing what we don’t want you to do, and we’re going to make you pay until you give up. Or we’re going to topple you or, we’re “Do respect or reciprocity alter a country’s behavior? Will tyrants play nice if we are more hospitable?...The answer is, ironically, that those elements are most useful for the worst and most vexing problems....”
going to threaten the use of military force. Then, if those don’t work, we’ll just isolate and contain you. And maybe we’ll negotiate. But we don’t want to be seen as rewarding bad behavior, so that comes further down the list. So remember, the elements of hospitality are: respect, reciprocity and mutuality, cessation of hostilities, generosity, and vulnerability – nothing that really relates to the use of force. Not much correspondence there. There is not a lot of respect or reciprocity in the application of military force. Regime change, ditto.
I think it was Vice President Cheney who said, you don’t talk to evil, you defeat it. So you don’t have tea with the devil and you don’t make deals with nasty characters. You force your will upon them. That’s sort of one side of the moralizing tendency in foreign policy. The positive side is, we’re out there as a force for good in the world, and we’re willing to say and do things that other countries aren’t willing to do. And we’re willing to spend blood and treasure to make that happen, and that’s been a force for good in the world. The dark side of that moralizing tendency in foreign policy is that we know we’re right and we’re going to force others to do what we want them to do. So how do we make other countries do what we want them to do when we know that we’re right? Use of force, regime change, sanctions, isolation, containment, negotiations, and buyoffs. I like buyoffs, by the way. That’s another long conversation. It’s quick, it’s simple, get it done is—right? Move on. But you know, not popular. In the last several years, since the end of the Cold War, we’ve gotten a lot of focus on military force, regime change, and sanctions. The use of sanctions feels as Mount Aloysius College | 53
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Sanctions, ditto. Isolation, more of the same. Containment, there’s a little respect in containment and there can be, occasionally, some reciprocity, but it’s still the purpose of containment to wait for the country to die so that you can sweep it aside and then begin anew. That’s what containment is about. Buyoffs, no. Buyoffs aren’t respectful. You know, you can threaten someone, and that’s not respectful, or you can say I don’t care about you, I’m just going to pay you off. There’s not a lot of respect in that either. The one where there’s the strongest correspondence is negotiation, where you have to sit down and talk to the adversary, the “evil one.” Now, people love sanctions. Why do they love sanctions? Because it means you don’t have to fight a war, but it still looks like you’re doing something; right? And plus, they’re easy. When you negotiate—and I’ve done it—it can be very frusterating. Some negotiators are maddening to talk to. They talk in circles and you never know where you are. You don’t have to do any of that with sanctions. You just impose them on others. It’s not messy. It’s easy and clean. Don’t even have to deal with them. There are two problems with all this, however. First, it’s costly; right? The war in Iraq should have taught us that. War is costly. And we can’t go around 54 | Mount Aloysius College
fighting wars with every country we don’t like, trying to impose our views on them, even if they are evil. And secondly, the coercion, the sanctions, the isolation, all that stuff works sometimes. But it doesn’t have a great track record. You know, sanctions aren’t going to work in North Korea because China is never going to let North Korea collapse because it doesn’t want a failed state on its border. So we can pass—we have passed—a hundred sanctions. We passed one last week, a sanctions bill. We can pass another hundred sanctions, and it isn’t going to change the dynamic at all, because China is not going to allow North Korea to fail.
Maybe it’s a child that you’re trying to get to wake up and go to school every day. We’ve all been in a situation where even the child has leverage on the older, more powerful adult. And sometimes you simply cannot force the person to do it. And the more you try to force them to do it, the more they resist you. I think we all have in our extended families, a family member who needs to change. And you can try buying them off and you can try threatening them, and it doesn’t work. And they fight back because of pride, suspicion, and history. And the worse the relationship, the more difficult it is to get a result.
So coercion, isolation, all this stuff, you can try it. It might work about a third of the time, 25 percent of the time, depending on the conditions and the countries you’re talking about, and it would be great to force the evil people to do what we want them to do either outright or by threats, but that is very costly and very hard to do.
The Matter of Iran and the
This relationship between adversaries reminds me of relations in some families. I’m not talking about me personally, this is being videotaped. Some of us here might have a brother or a sister or a parent or a friend that we try to get to do something.
Here is what I find when I talk to Iranians at the highest level of the Iranian government. When you ask them what they believe in their hearts, the Iranians believe we want regime change—to overthrow their government. We sponsored a coup in 1953 and toppled their duly-elected
United States: Empathy? Let me talk for a minute about the U.S. and Iran. I’ve been at this for more than 10 years. The Islamic Republic was born in 1979, so the animosity goes back to then and even earlier.
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democratic government. We said they were part of the “Axis of Evil” even after they bailed us out in Afghanistan and set up the Karzai government. That was their thanks. The Iraq invasion—sanctions followed by invasion—sure sounds like a familiar story if you’re sitting in Tehran and you’re being sanctioned and there are threats of military force. That looks like “déjà vu all over again.”
But if I’m sitting in Tehran, while it would be a mistake to think that regime change was our policy, it would not be unreasonable. Equally compelling, we in the U.S.— when I talk to my colleagues—we’re convinced that Iran wants nuclear weapons, is going for the bomb. Now,
We did a nuclear deal with Libya, where they gave us—Gaddafi gave us—his nuclear weapons assets and was given a clean bill of health, and then we later invaded and toppled him. Now, we can have a discussion about that; right? There are human rights issues and all the rest. But if you’re sitting in Tehran, Libya made a deal, and what they got in return is they got toppled. If you want to look at it that way, you can look at it that way.
They covered up a military site at Parchin. Clearly, this was a site for stuff that was in violation of their obligations, so they tore the building down, sculpted all the soil off, and rebuilt over it. I mean, they clearly cheated; right? That’s why they did that. And they make, or have made, 20 percent enriched uranium. So they say: “Listen, we have not decided to develop nuclear weapons, and we have this religious fatwa, this piece of paper, that says it’s haram, it’s illegitimate in Islam to pursue nuclear weapons.”
We’re supporting rebels in Syria against Assad. And I think Assad is terrible, but Syria and Iran are allies. The Iranians have had people assassinated in the streets. They’ve had five nuclear scientists assassinated. That’s not the U.S. doing that. I’m pretty sure I know who’s doing that, and I’m pretty sure it’s not the United States. But in any case, that’s happening. We recognized the MEK, a group the Iranians consider to be a terrorist organization, and there are allegations that we support another terroristic group. We put on these sanctions, and we keep adding to the list of things that we have concerns about. Remember empathy. You have to see the world as they see it if you’re going to be able to actually get at any of these things. I don’t think this is true, by the way. I do not believe our policy is regime change. I’m pretty sure it’s not regime change. And the U.S. government says repeatedly that this is not our policy. You know, these are the words that we speak; regime change is not our policy.
conclude that Iran is going for the bomb. They had a secret enrichment facility. They have far more enrichment capacity than they could possibly ever use for a domestic nuclear program that is barely off the ground. There’s no reason for them to have this much enrichment. They’ve gotten transfers from the Pakistani, A.Q. Khan, including a weapons design. There’s testimony from a Russian scientist that there was inappropriate testing. They haven’t signed the additional protocol.
the top intelligence officer in the United States, the Director of National Intelligence has testified every year that Iran had a nuclear weapons program in the late 1990s that it stopped, it halted, and shut down in 2003. They have a nuclear weapons capability. If you can make a centrifuge, you can make a nuclear weapon eventually. So they have a basic nuclear weapons capability, but they have not decided whether they’re going for the bomb. They have not made the political decision yet to go for the bomb. That is our consensus—a U.S. intelligence “finding” with “high confidence.” You don’t get a lot of “high confidence” intelligence findings. So the policy is “they haven’t yet made a bomb decision.” But when you talk to friends and colleagues, it’s understandable why they would
And we say: “Regime change is not our policy. Look, here’s our policy. It is written down. I can read it to you. It’s not regime change.” And in both cases, both countries say look at the words we’re speaking. Trust me that my words are true. But there is no reason for trust in this relationship. Both sides have time-honored, well-earned reasons to mistrust each other—a justified mutual distrust. And as for the Iranians,—we can talk in Question and Answer if you want, about whether we should use military force, I’ve written on this topic with colleagues—let me remind you that this is a country that fought the Iran/Iraq War in which Saddam used chemical weapons against a defenseless Iranian population. A war that went on for eight years, in which they paid a super-high price. That was the bloodiest war on record in the Middle East up to that point in the post-war period. So they’re Mount Aloysius College | 55
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not going to just roll over. Ultimately, most foreign policy disputes are settled through “So, hospitality is not on the list of the most important variables in international behavior... But ironically, for the most vexing problems, the tough cases, the ones that... resist our attempts to pressure them to behave differently, it turns out that that is where it’s important...”
negotiation, not by force or imposition. It seems that we always reach for the “we should attack them” response or the “we should throw the bums out” response. But if you look at the numbers, that’s not how most things get settled. Most things get settled in negotiations. Sanctions, threats and buyoffs can be useful, but very rarely are countries— especially your adversaries who despise you, or what they think you represent—going to say, I’m waving the white flag, you’re right, I’m wrong, I give up. That just doesn’t happen very often. So yes, sanctions, threats, etc., are fine but only in service towards a relationship in which there’s a discussion and a negotiation where both parties have to figure out a way where they can live with each other and achieve what they want to achieve.
Conclusion So, hospitality is not on the list of the most important variables in international behavior. And it’s not a central driving force in international relations. Power and national interest, these account for a lot more of what we see in terms of international politics. But ironically, for the most vexing problems, the tough cases, the 56 | Mount Aloysius College
countries we don’t like, the ones that fight us tooth and nail and resist our attempts to pressure them to behave differently, it turns out that that is where it’s important, where you have to have a relationship that is reciprocal, generous, empathetic, so that you can find a way to negotiate yourselves out of the box that you’ve put yourselves into. And that’s what I wanted to say about hospitality. So I’m happy to take questions.
Question & Answer AUDIENCE MEMBER: Tell me, how does Ahmadinejad fit in with the powerful people, and what type of attributes have gotten him to where he is now?
DR. WALSH: I do a lot of Iran talks. I have never done a hospitality talk before. So I have a slide, which I can’t show you because it’s not on the computer, that lays out the Iranian decision-making system. And I sort of alluded to it. In the Iranian system, the most important political actor is the Supreme Leader, the top cleric. He’s the “decider.” The position or office of president is fairly weak, actually. And one of the things Ahmadinejad did, through dint of personality and campaigning and cleverness, was sort of bring more power to that office, wrestle more power to the office of the presidency. But the most important thing to know about Ahmadinejad is that he is termed out of office. There’s a presidential election in June. There’s a two-term limit for the president in Iran, so he will be leaving office. And for the past year he has been completely sidelined, because one of the characteristics of the Iranian domestic political situation is intense fratricide
—intense competition where different organs of the government fight each other for power. And Ahmadinejad has tremendously powerful enemies in Iran, and they have been circling him for years. So a year ago in Tehran, the question was would they arrest Ahmadinejad and throw him in jail or let him serve out his term? So, he has very little power other than the bully pulpit. And internationally, he’s still recognized as the president. But in Iran, it’s a different story. Now, having spent 20 hours with him and seen many Ahmadinejads over these different dinners—the fiery Ahmadinejad, the scholarly Ahmadinejad—I find it hard to believe that he’s going to leave the scene quietly. That’s not in his nature. He is a renegade, an individualist, not afraid of bucking the Supreme Leader. Within the past month, he went to their Parliament—the President went to the Parliament and showed a video that implicated his archrival, the Speaker of the Parliament, along with his brother, as being in cahoots in a corruption deal. So it’s like the President went to Congress and said here’s a video of a guy taking cash. Oh, and he’s the Speaker of the House. So, he has two months left in office and I don’t think the final shoe has dropped. I don’t know what he’s going to do, but he’s going to try to do something. How he got there, he was Mayor of Tehran. There was a presidential election in which there was a runoff between him and an establishment figure, Rafsanjani. So, the most powerful person in Iran is the Supreme Leader. The second most powerful institution is the Revolutionary Guard. To run for president, you have to be vetted by the Guardians Council. So, only establishment conservatives are able to run in the Iranian system. And among them you then have fights between
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what are called the Principalists, who are super hardline, and others who are pragmatic even though they’re conservative. So the hardcore folks rallied with the Revolutionary Guard to support Ahmadinejad. So he won that first election. And then the second election was the disputed 2009 election, where you saw the street protests and the Greens and all that. So that’s how he came to be in office. But he’s not long with us, politically anyway.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: What can we do—what does our country do if there is a first strike by our allies, either South Korea or Israel?
DR. WALSH: What is the U.S. going to do if there is a military action taken not by the United States but, in the case of Iran, by Israel, or in the case of North Korea, by South Korea? I think that’s a tremendous question. The U.S. has told Israel repeatedly, in
no uncertain terms, that we will not participate in a military strike, and that if they launch one now, they’re on their own. Now, with the caveat that at some point in the future we’ll take care of this, we may see a need to take military action. But our position is: if you do something now, this month, this year, you’re on your own. And in fact, the U.S. has said that before. When Israel attacked the reactor in Syria that the North Koreans had built for them, the nuclear reactor, Israel came to the U.S. and asked us to participate, and the U.S. declined. Same thing is true of the Israeli attack on Iraq’s Osirak reactor, Saddam’s nuclear power reactor. The U.S. declined that opportunity as well. You know, the U.S. is its own sovereign, independent state, and it has to make choices about costs and benefits of the use of military force in the region in any given moment. And I think for right now, and certainly for the past several years, it’s hard to make a case for military action, in my own personal view. There are a lot of unknowns, it’s hard in the middle of an Arab Spring, instability, Syrian civil war, all the rest of it, to make that decision.
And, if I may digress for just a moment; my core concern about a military strike against Iran is not that Iran is going to retaliate. I’m sure it will retaliate. I’m sure we can handle that retaliation. My core concern as a person who focuses on nuclear weapons decision-making is that they will wake up the next day and say, OK, fine, we’re making a nuclear weapon. Remember, the intelligence-finding of the top officer in the United States for intelligence is that Iran has a nuclearweapons capability, but it has not decided—not pulled the trigger—on going for the bomb. But I think if they are attacked, they’ll change their mind. And I think there’s good historical evidence for that. After the Israelis bombed the Osirak reactor in 1981/82, the nuclear program in Iraq was just one of several exotic weapons programs that weren’t going anywhere. After that attack, Saddam released physicists and nuclear engineers that he had imprisoned for other reasons, and he made the nuclear program “job one.” So, what is the most important thing if you want to be a nuclear weapons
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state? It’s not this or that technology, it’s commitment. It’s political priority. The countries that become nuclear weapons states are the ones who say I want it, I want it now, and we need to get it done, and they give it political priority. I think an attack on Iran at this point gives a decision to go for the bomb political priority. That’s my concern but again, there are unknowns here. “No one wants war. But that doesn’t mean war can’t happen. And when you’re... not talking to each other, then there is the opportunity for mischief, error, misperception, miscalculation. You’re just waiting for that to happen...”
On South Korea, I remember sitting with a group of uniformed officers at the U.S. base in South Korea who told me that they saw their mission as both deterring North Korea and restraining South Korea. I had never heard that second part before. About two years ago there was a shelling; North Korea shelled a South Korean island. You may have seen it. A couple of fishermen got killed. It caused a tremendous political stir and anger and upset in South Korea. In the wake of that, South Korea changed its military doctrine. Its policy before was to say, North Korea, you hit us, we’re going to respond proportionately, tit-for-tat. After that island shelling, they said, you hit us, we’re going to hit you three times harder. And then they said that the decisions about how to respond that used to be made in Seoul, were now going to be pre-delegated to forward-deployed commanders. We’ll let commanders on the ground make the decision about how to respond, and we’re going to be able to strike every military asset in North Korea. We felt constricted last time. We’re done with that. 58 | Mount Aloysius College
Next time, we’re going to hit North Korea hard, we’re going to forward deploy, and we’re going to put every one of their assets in our sights, which is reasonable and understandable, except that their very forward—they call it proactive deterrence—that very forward-leaning approach means trouble if anyone messes up; remember, we have a new leader of North Korea, a new leader in South Korea both of whom are trying to consolidate their political positions. They’re both new to the job.
is not the nuclear weapons, per se. I don’t want to see them have nuclear weapons. I want it to be a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. But my near-term concern is the point that you raised about war breaking out—an inadvertent war—a war that no one wants.
North Korea doesn’t want a war. They’ll lose. They know they’re going to lose. They’d go down. It would be ugly. But in going down, they would shoot a bunch of artillery at Seoul and tear a piece of Seoul off, and the South Koreans don’t want that. So, the South Koreans don’t All right, you have Kim Jong-un. want a war. We don’t want a war. The There’s an incident. Maybe someone Chinese don’t want a war. The North messes up, someone gets killed. Well, Koreans don’t want a war that they the South Koreans respond three times know they’re going to lose. as hard. So, are we going to bet that Kim will back down? I mean, we’re relying No one wants war. But that doesn’t on the rationality of the North Korean mean war can’t happen. And when regime to keep a mistake from spiraling you’re leaning forward, and, as you into a conventional war. saw this week, the North Koreans cut the communication lines between the So my fear about the Korean Peninsula North and the South—and they’re not
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talking to each other—then there is the opportunity for mischief, error, misperception, miscalculation. You’re just waiting for that to happen.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I was listening to NPR this morning about drone activity. And even though, as you say, no one really wants a war, it seems we keep preparing for it…so, is there any hope?
DR. WALSH: Drones are becoming cheaper, faster, easier, more sophisticated. Soon everyone is going to have drones. Welcome to that neighborhood. And Iran has shot down a couple of drones. And you know, the South Koreans may use drones. I don’t know if they will or not; but that’s a good question. To the question: do we have any reason for hope? My answer is yes, yes. War is not inevitable. War is a choice made by human beings. And so it’s in the power of human beings to avoid war. And that’s why I put the priority on establishing a line of communication. You don’t have to like the other guy. We didn’t like the Soviets, but the Cuban Missile Crisis taught us that we needed to talk, so that mistakes don’t become wars. So, I think that’s possible. But these are both tough cases. I’m not a near-term optimist about the relationship with either of these countries. And it’s true that, the longer this goes on, you wonder if something bad is going to happen. But we should be somewhat reassured by the fact that war is a big thing. It doesn’t happen every day. The chance of war breaking out on any given day is pretty small. The thing is, you just don’t want to keep rolling the dice over and over again.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: But isn’t that what we’re doing because we continue to—all countries maintain
a posture of making sure they have what they need in case it happens?
“To the question: do we have any reason for hope? My answer is yes, yes. War is not inevitable. War is a choice made by human beings. And so it’s in the power of human beings to avoid war. And that’s why I put the priority on establishing a line of communication...”
I think that’s true. I think there is a degree of self-fulfilling prophecy here and the use of worst-case scenarios that actually drag you into the thing unnecessarily. And that’s a long conversation, but—I agree. But all is not lost. I come here with good news.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: My assumption, based on your presentation, is that right now negotiation isn’t highly valued in international relations. Do you see more nations putting more of a value on that, or is it still being pushed to the sidelines?
DR. WALSH: If we think in terms of a pie, we put 80 percent of our time into sanctions. Now, it takes two to talk. The Iranians need to talk and they walked away from the negotiating table for quite a long time. And the North Koreans, of course, are making it difficult. So if you test a nuclear weapon or you test a missile, it’s hard if you’re the President of the United States to say, okay, let’s negotiate because then it will look like you’re being weak and you’re rewarding bad behavior, and you’ll get savaged
politically at home.
But in the case of other nations, the smartest way is to negotiate?
DR. WALSH: Yes. There are all sorts of issues in the world of international politics, and some of them are, doubtless, being negotiated and negotiated well. But with respect to North Korea and Iran, there’s no conversation. There’s no line of communication. There’s not a telephone line with North Korea. Now we have had the beginning, as of a week ago in Kazakhstan, the resumption of what are called the P5-plus-1 nuclear talks. They could make some small progress. But the problem with incrementalism in this relationship—you do a little bit and then you do a little bit more—is that the forces within both home countries who want to undo any progress, are beavering away, and there’s no trust. So there is a strong argument for incrementalism in some things, but in others, one-step-at-a-time just means that you never get there because you never get to the second step. What you really need, is to do something that’s more dramatic. I mean, we didn’t use incrementalism with Stalin, who was an evil person. FDR and Stalin came to a top-down agreement—an agreement that was enforced from the top down, not achieved through little steps. So while this varies by circumstances, I would say with respect to U.S. foreign policy towards countries that have bad nuclear programs or things we don’t like—the preponderant amount of policy, time, money and attention is spent on sanctions and on reassuring allies—those two, disproportionately.
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tendency in looking at foreign relations. I wonder, do you have any opinion on whether, since 9/11, we have become what we hate?
DR. WALSH: I don’t think we’ve become what we hate, but I do think that certainly 9/11 was a psychological and emotional shock to the body politic. And there are things that we did immediately after 9/11 out of emotion, understandable emotion, and then I also think some policy entrepreneurs, as any good policy entrepreneur will, took advantage of that situation to forward their agendas. I think that’s all to be expected. I think in some ways you could make the case that where we stand today, in 2013, is actually a good news story about the resilience of the American people and the American republic. Yes, the early chapters weren’t very good—the war in Iraq—but here we stand a decade later, and I think we pulled back and found our footing. There are still things that people are concerned about, Guantanamo and aspects of the various laws and use of drones and assassination, that are worthy of discussion, but I don’t feel that we’re spiraling down into some ugly, frightened place. I think, as any country would, in those early years, we reacted out of fear. But I think you could argue that we’ve bounced back, that we didn’t slide down that slope. But maybe that’s just me. I’m an optimist by nature, so—.
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You know, I want to say—can I say something about this crowd? And this is a compliment. Never in my life have I gotten so many questions from women, which I think is really, really terrific. Often when I give talks, I have to default to calling on men and then saying that I’m going to alternate; I’m going to call on men and then call on women, and that’s the only way to get women questioners involved. I’m going to have to reverse this tonight and insist on calling on some men, but I’m very impressed by that.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Where do you think America would rank on a list of hospitable nations? Do you think we’re near the top?
DR. WALSH: That’s an interesting question, for which I have no answer whatsoever. Where does the U.S. rank in hospitality? I guess part of that is behavioral. You could actually have rankings about hospitality at the civil society level. I’m just thinking this through with you now…you can imagine studies that would measure hospitality at the civil society level, how people conduct themselves. Like civil discourse, what’s the nature of their civil discourse when they interact with each other? Are they social, are they isolated, are they welcoming to strangers. How they treat immigrants might be another way of getting at that; right? This is a political science
question. If you’re taking International Relations, you should talk to your professor about trying to construct a way of testing that hypothesis. You know, for International Relations, you might try to look at a set of negotiations and see what countries participated in them and the stance they took and the degree to which it seemed to embody reciprocity. So the Nords have this tremendous record; right? I think, if I had to guess—and I’m making this up completely—I’m guessing Finland, Sweden and Norway are going to do really well because they’re always doing stuff like that, at least on the issues that I mentioned. And others, probably not so good. But I’m not sure where we would be. I would suspect that we wouldn’t be in the top 10 percent because we’ve enjoyed this fabulous history of immense power, so we really haven’t had to pay attention to anyone; right? You get used to that. You get used to getting your own way, and so it’s possible that we haven’t had to be reciprocal. Not that we weren’t, but countries who live in a world with different geography and a different set of power attributes, they have to learn to get along and work things out more than we have really had to. So I would suspect that while we’re not bad, we’re not at the top.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: My question is about the recent controversy regarding the photo that was taken of Ahmadinejad consoling Hugo Chavez’s mother, which the clerics
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are condemning as a sin since they are not relatives. There is speculation about what he did. Do you think that it was—that he did it intentionally?
DR. WALSH: So, there’s a recent controversy with President Ahmadinejad giving the mother of the recently-passed Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez a hug or, in the view of some clerics back in Tehran, touching a woman inappropriately. You know, I think that’s the least of his problems. It’s a problem, but it’s the least of his problems. I mean, he has people back home that hate him. I’m not talking about the population; I’m talking about the elites competing for power in the government. He has strong, powerful forces— clerical and otherwise—that hate him. Larijani hates him. Larijani’s brothers —he has a lot of brothers and they’re all in places of importance—they all hate him. So, I think that’s the fundamental thing driving all this right now. And then the question is: what’s he going to do? I don’t know what he can do, but I feel sure he’s not going to just drive off and retire in Yazdi. I don’t think that’s going to happen.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Given what you just said about all the different factions in Iran, would you anticipate a level of instability coming out of that?
DR. WALSH: Do I think the factionalism will lead to instability? Obviously, this presidential election, the first presidential election since the 2009 disputed election, is a big deal. I do not expect instability in Iran. I think it’s a much more authoritarian state than it was 10 years ago. You know,
2009 has made it a more authoritarian state. I mean, it wasn’t Canada prior to that, but compared to many states, Arab states in the Middle East, it had real elections; right? And there was a distribution of power. Are there human rights problems? Yes, yes, yes. But you look at Syria under Assad, the elder or the son, look at Egypt under Mubarak, you know, a lot of those countries in that region had problems that were worse than Iran’s. And countries in the Middle East used to look up to Iran as recently as five years ago. They don’t do that anymore. So Iran is more authoritarian. They’re going to be on their guard for this upcoming election. It’s going to be tightly controlled. I’m sure they’re nervous about it, but I do not expect instability that would threaten the future of the regime. Moreover, I think if they were attacked, then you’ll get a rally-around-the-flag effect.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: What are the practical considerations of North Korea having repudiated the armistice?
DR. WALSH: I’d have preferred that they hadn’t done that, but I don’t think it’s going to be decisive in any way. What strikes me about the North Korean provocations that we’ve seen is that they all involve words or actions that don’t actually do anything to South Korea; right? If they conduct a missile test, or they conduct a nuclear test, there’s no South Korean getting shot or hurt. They’re doing it themselves and it’s provocative. If I get up and say I am ignoring this treaty or I’m going to cut a communication line, it’s provocative, but it’s not using a stick to poke South Korea.
So, I don’t welcome any of this. The North Koreans have a tremendously flexible foreign policy that allows them to accept and renounce things as they wish—so, no armistice today, maybe an armistice tomorrow. So, I don’t worry about that too much.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: There are a lot of negative stereotypes towards Middle Eastern countries. How does this fit in with hospitality— and what can we do to reduce it?
DR. WALSH: That’s a great question; and thank you for bringing us back on theme. The check is in the mail. So the question is about prejudice against people from the Middle East, and what does that imply for this theme of hospitality? You know, I think it speaks directly to it. It speaks absolutely directly to it. You have to engage people. You have to be reciprocal, mutual, respectful, and try to see the world through their eyes. And that is the antidote to the opposite course of standing back and judging from afar, without talking and without engaging in a serious way. I see these things as directly related; this talk is geared to the governmental level, how we should behave in terms of foreign policy. But at the level of civil society, we absolutely need more of that. We need to allow people to see each other as human. And they are human. Now, not all humans are good. Some humans are evil. And some humans make bad choices, and on and on. We are frail and imperfect beings. But that is what it means to be human, and we need to be able to see that humanity. You know, we’re never going to wipe out prejudice. But—here I go again, Pollyanna Walsh… Dr. Pollyanna Walsh —I’m also impressed by the fact that, when you look at the numbers, there is a ton of prejudice in the world
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and people find reasons not to like each other, but it doesn’t generate a tremendous amount of violence. We have to apportion this up and talk about specific time periods. But the people who act out and do terrible things, whether they’re terrorists or they’re thugs, hooligans that beat up a Sikh because they think he’s an Arab—that stuff doesn’t happen as much as you would expect, given the sort of broad, widespread feelings of prejudice against people. So, it’s a good news/bad news story. Yes, people have negative feelings towards each other, but most people don’t act on it. The people who do, they’re a tiny, tiny minority. So, I think there’s a good story there, too.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: If you have values, I don’t care if you’re Muslim or if you’re from Iran—looking to identify where the line is—you have to acknowledge that there are real differences that can’t just be swept under the rug.
DR. WALSH: I hear you. And I agree with that totally. And certainly in the domain that I’m 62 | Mount Aloysius College
talking about, which is the domain of foreign policy and foreign affairs, if you’re going to get anywhere you’re going to have to talk substantively about what your real differences are, because a negotiation is not just having tea. A negotiation is having tea and talking about your difficulties and your complaints. And I think the reason why the North Koreans and the Iranians—I’ve said unpleasant things about North Korea and Iran on TV many, many times: North Korea has a horrific human rights record, Iran is an authoritarian state, Iran clearly violated its Non-Proliferation Treaty commitments—but they still invite me, because they know that I’m going to tell them what I believe to be true. I tell them—and I say this to the Americans as well—you have this position and I sympathize with you on this. You know, your complaint here about X, you’re right, I agree. But you’re completely wrong about this, and you’re not helping by doing Y and Z. And I say that to the Americans, I say that to the Iranians, and I say that to the North Koreans. So I think, I can only imagine in my own mind, that they’re not so sensitive
that you can’t say substantive things to them; but there has to be respect first. Absent the respect and the trust, people go in with their litany of complaints and that’s where they start. Listen, you did this to me, you did that to me. Well, absent any sort of pre-existing relationship or sense of trust or respect, people are just going to push you away or come right back at you and say, oh yeah, well you toppled my government. You did this, you did that. “You have to engage people. You have to be reciprocal, mutual, respectful, and try to see the world through their eyes. And that is the antidote to the opposite course of standing back and judging from afar...” I found in North Korea, just as a small metaphor, that I did the things that would be hospitable in that environment as a guest. And then when I got in the car with my counterpart for one of those long two-hour drives to the next stop, say the birthplace of some important figure, we would argue. The Foreign Ministry guy assigned to me, we would have knock-down, drag-out arguments. But we could do
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that. What made that possible was that there had been some initial relationship established. And the North Koreans—I like the North Koreans, I like the South Koreans—they mix it up. They’re not afraid to say what they think. I kind of like that personality. But you can’t do that unless you do the first things first.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You talked about misunderstanding— the misunderstanding that sides can have about each other. Obviously, it has to be addressed somehow, and obviously, it’s not as easy as a simple phone call— hey, we’ve got a misunderstanding. Oh, okay. Everything’s okay now. It was just a misunderstanding.
DR. WALSH: Yes, it’s a good question. The question is about my point concerning the ways in which both sides can come to see the other as having views that aren’t their actual views, but in their hearts, they suspect that they are. They honestly think—not everyone, but there’s a non-trivial plurality of opinion that thinks we just want regime change. And there’s a non-trivial group that thinks they’re going for the bomb—I don’t care whether they shut the bomb program off in 2003. I don’t care. In my heart I feel they’re going for the bomb. And so it’s hard to negotiate a resolution to a nuclear dispute if you actually believe that the other side is going for the bomb no matter what. Or it’s hard to negotiate when you think that no matter what you sign—just like Gaddafi signed the Libya nuclear agreement— as soon the ink’s dry, they’re coming after you. So simply saying that something is not your policy doesn’t cut it. You have to do something. I mean, actions do speak louder than words. And that’s why the advice I gave to my interlocutors was that they were caught in a cycle. I’ve seen this now many times over the last
10 years. You have to break the cycle of expectations. One side has to do something that the other side doesn’t expect, something that speaks directly to a core concern that they have, in a way that is dramatic and gets them to stop and back up and say, what’s going on here? This is different. “You have to break the cycle of expectations. One side has to do something that the other side doesn’t expect, something that speaks directly to a core concern that they have, in a way that is dramatic and gets them to stop and back up and say, what’s going on here? This is different.” Now, when I say that to the Iranians, they say, “Hey, we’re the weaker party here. You’re the United States of America. You go first.” Which, you know, that’s not unreasonable; right? The U.S. is far more powerful and really is much less at risk when you think about it. We don’t live in southwest Asia. We live surrounded by oceans, Canada and Mexico. So if they take risks and they’re wrong, and we really are about regime change, they’re screwed. So they’re sort of right about that. And then I say it to the Americans, and the Americans say, you know, we would do that, but as soon as we offer something up, the Iranians are just going to pocket that concession and move on, and we’ll get nothing for it.
President Thomas P. Foley I want to thank Jim for just two more things that he brought to us here tonight. One is a new understanding of the word empathy that unites the themes that we’ve pursued the last two years here: civil discourse and hospitality. Jim’s notion of empathy is not that we understand and agree with what another party is saying, but that we try to figure out both what their position is and why it is they hold that position. When Jim put those two charts up there showing what the Iranians think about us and what we think about the Iranians, that lesson applies to a lot of other issues as well. We might use that prism to look at our differences on issues that are very American—like gun control and immigration—and try to understand how we come to our different positions. And I think that’s an important take-away for us. The second “thank you” is summed up by an expression: Smart is when you believe only half of what you hear. Brilliant is when you know which half to believe. Jim, the explanations that you gave us here tonight helped us all feel, at least for a little while—that we were brilliant on these issues, and we appreciate that very much. Thank you.
Now, I can understand why they say that, but that’s sort of where we are. It’s going to take something more. Talking— having a relationship of respect—is the precondition, but it is not the full answer. At some point people have to take actions that demonstrate to the other that their words are real. And we haven’t seen that yet.
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Dr. Jim Walsh is an expert in international security and a Research Associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Security Studies Program (SSP). Dr. Walsh’s research and writings focus on international security, and in particular, topics involving nuclear weapons and terrorism. Dr. Walsh has testified before the United States Senate on the issue of nuclear terrorism and on Iran’s nuclear program. He is one of a handful of Americans who has traveled to both Iran and North Korea for talks with officials about nuclear issues. The British newspaper, The Independent, named Dr. Walsh and his co-authors as having offered one of the 10 best and original ideas of 2008. His comments and analysis have appeared in the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, the Times of London, the Financial Times, Associated Press, Reuters, Time magazine, US News and World Report, the Atlantic, 64 | Mount Aloysius College
the Economist, ABC news, CBS news, the Discovery Channel, MTV, and numerous other national and international media outlets. He acts as terrorism consultant for the NBC affiliate in Boston (WHDH, Ch 7), served as Iraq War analyst for WGBH (PBS, Boston), and regularly appears on Fox, CNN, NPR, and the BBC. His film credits include Testament (Paramount Pictures, 2004), Meltdown (FX channel, 2004), and Fortress Australia (Australia Broadcast Corporation, 2002). Dr. Walsh’s recent publications include “What to do about Iran?” with Thomas Pickering and Anthony Zinni, Chicago Tribune (2012); the chapter: “Egypt’s Nuclear Future: Proliferation or Restraint?” in Forecasting Proliferation, Stanford University Press (2010); Dangerous Myths: North Korea, the United States, and the Future of Asia, Yale University Press (forthcoming); “Sanctions Can’t be the Centerpiece,” in the New York Times (2009); “How to Deal with Iran” with Thoman Pickering and William Luers in the New York Review of Books (2009). He is also the author of “Learning from Past Success:
The NPT and the Future of Non-proliferation” for the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission chaired by Hans Blix (2006). Dr. Walsh also served as editor for the book series, Terrorism: Documents of International & Local Control and his writings have appeared in several scholarly journals including Political Science Quarterly, the Nonproliferation Review, International Studies Review, and Contemporary Security Policy. Before coming to MIT, Dr. Walsh was Executive Director of the Managing the Atom Project at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a visiting scholar at the Center for Global Security Research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He has taught at both Harvard University and MIT. Dr. Walsh received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Jim Walsh was awarded the honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters at the 2013 Mount Aloysius College Commencement.
Year of Hospitality | August, 2013
Mrs. Patricia R. Rooney Hospitality Capstone and Commencement Address May 11, 2013
Patricia Rooney’s Commencement Address served as a Capstone to the College’s yearlong theme of “Hospitality: Finding Home in a Changing World.” With a wealth of life-experience as a mother, teacher and wife of Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and former Ambassador to Ireland; Mrs. Rooney was the perfect choice to share her observations on hospitality with 412 Mount Aloysius graduates, their families and friends. She spoke directly to our yearlong theme of “Hospitality: Finding Home in a Changing World.” Mrs. Rooney spoke about hospitality as an element of her faith, as part of her ancestral heritage and as a fundamental part of her husband’s work as Ambassador to Ireland. Mrs. Rooney shared a few stories from her experience as the first American family of Ireland, where her husband
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Dan served as Ambassador for the last four years. She also spoke about the Mercy heritage in both of their families, and their ancestral connections to the founders of the Sisters of Mercy from their own roots.
Auxiliary of the Salvation Army and was one of the early volunteers of Project Bundle-Up, a highly successful Salvation Army program to provide winter clothing for needy children and the elderly.
In introducing Patricia Rooney, President Foley said these words:
“She served on the National Board of the Salvation Army and has served on the Boards of the Pittsburgh Symphony, the International Poetry Forum, the National Center for Learning Disabilities and The Rehabilitation Institute.
“Our Commencement speaker today is special—and there is no other way to put it. Patricia Rooney is a first generation American. Her parents hailed from a tiny community called Cloontia in County Mayo, Ireland— only a couple of hours from the home of Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy. Like many of us in this auditorium, Patricia is a firstgeneration college graduate. She is also the mother of nine children, grandmother of 18, a veteran of community engagement and a proponent of lifelong education—two themes central to our Mt Aloysius experience. “Patricia Rooney is founder of the Rooney international Visiting Scholars Program at Robert Morris University, where she both taught and served as a trustee. Mrs. Rooney’s other community interests are diversified and typical of her personal commitment to improving the quality of life in her community. She was instrumental in reviving the Women’s
“Patricia has been recognized for her commitment to community with the Carlow University Women of Spirit Award and the Salvation Army Catherine Booth Award—the highest honor bestowed by those two institutions. And Patricia was only the third recipient ever of one of the signal honors in the field of higher education, the Robert P. Casey Medal—which she received from the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Pennsylvania.” Reflecting upon the loving partnership that continues to shape the lives of Patricia and Dan Rooney, President Foley, addressing the special couple directly continued, “In your efforts to promote the common good, you have always focused on the defining values of what Pope John Paul II described as “authentic family humanism”: equality,
August, 2013 | Year of Hospitality
justice, well-being and dignity of person. You have promoted these values in your professional lives as well.” During our 2013 Commencement ceremonies, Dan and Patricia Rooney were honored, as a couple, with the Doctor of Social Justice degree, honoris causa. President Foley noted that “In honoring Patricia and Dan Rooney, we cite principled leadership, service to community and country, philanthropy and their deep commitment to excellence and ethics in athletics. “We also honor your efforts to promote peace, reconciliation and economic development in Ireland, home of your ancestors and spiritual home of the Religious Sisters of Mercy. Through the Ireland Fund, which you co-founded, millions of dollars have been raised to promote peace and support culture, education and community development. Your founding of the Newry/Pittsburgh Partnership, your service on the board of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, and the establishment of the Rooney Fellowships for education and career development have all provided additional avenues “Hospitality affirms the human dignity that each one of us deserves. Each of us deserves to be treated in a very special and caring way. “
of economic opportunity in Ireland and new pathways for reconciliation between the Catholic and Protestant communities. Finally, “he concluded, “We take delight in welcoming you both back from your just-completed duties as United States Ambassador to Ireland, and we thank you for your stellar service to our country.” Excerpts of Patricia Rooney’s capstone address follow: “Thank you, Dr. Foley. It’s an honor and a pleasure to be here with all of you. “When I taught at Robert Morris College, I always started by telling students that I am not from the MTV era, nor am I a YouTube kind of person. But I always promised to get them out of class as quickly as I can and I’ll do the same today. “I am aware of your collective focus this year on the virtue of hospitality and I commend you and the entire campus for that focus. Befitting that noble topic, I’ll take this wonderful opportunity to do a final summation on the Mercy core value of Hospitality. “Hospitality affirms the best in all of us. It gives us a good feeling; makes us stronger, gives us the confidence to go out and interact with our fellow man. Hospitality affirms the human dignity that each one of us deserves. Each of us deserves to be treated in a very special and caring
“If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts”—Psalms 95. And when we hear that voice, it doesn’t have to be Jesus coming down talking to us, or someone praying. It can be the voice of a child, a person who needs a hello, a person who really needs to be recognized. So when you hear that voice, listen and answer if you can.
way. Hospitality crosses through abundance too. It transcends poverty. Hospitality works not just when we’re dealing with the poor and indigent. Hospitality is active among all of us all of the time. “Through the aura of grace, we perform hospitable acts to favor others. The innate gift of hospitality rewards the welcomer and the guest. We are purpose-filled people. “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts”—Psalms 95. And when we hear that voice, it doesn’t have to be Jesus coming down talking to us, or someone praying. It can be the voice of a child, a person who needs a hello, a person who really needs to be recognized. So when you hear that voice, listen and answer if you can. “Ambassador Rooney and I have had many visits to Ireland and were truly honored with our four years of life at the Embassy. We have experienced hospitality there time and again. The Mount Aloysius College | 67
Year of Hospitality | August, 2013
Irish can do nothing wrong in terms of making you comfortable and at home. “Some 30 years ago, the Ambassador and I were asked to travel to Newry, Northern Ireland, which is his home county. We loved Ireland so much. And we were invited to go to a spot called Whitegates. At that time it was just a piece of land with a corrugated hut. The wonderful collection of men and women who lived in that community gathered to propose an idea for this piece of land. Their hospitality consisted, of course, of wonderful tea. They had gathered up the best china—they probably went door to door because they had beautiful pieces, cups, saucers, cream, sugar, spoons. Nothing matched, but it all was elegant. “Their warmth that day was as beautiful as their dream. And their dream was to get some help to build a community center. There was nowhere in that particular area for families or children to gather. “We have visited there every year for the past 30 years. Today they have their community center—a place of hospitality. They have a beautiful sport and recreational facility. They teach Irish dancing and have a place for babies to come while their mothers work. They have a computer room, a science room, all within this little space that we saw that day when they offered us so much Irish
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hospitality and a cup of tea. “Hospitality, warmth, sharing and people all came together that day. So this empty parcel of land has turned out to be a viable spot that benefits all of the community. “I leave you with a quote from Pope Francis. “Go out and share your testimony. Go out and interact with your brothers. Go out and share. Go out and ask. “And, finally, let me share a thought from the wisdom of Mother Theresa. She tells us that we do not have to go to Calcutta to help people. We have our own Calcutta here within us and around us. So look around and become part of your community. “Class of 2013, may some of your days be hospitable, may some of your dreams come true. Remember your degree from Mount Aloysius is your passport to hospitality… to reaching out and caring for the rest of the world. “I leave you with a quote from Pope Francis.” Go out and share your testimony. Go out and interact with your brothers. Go out and share. Go out and ask.”
“God bless you and thank you for having me.”
“Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.” Henri J.M. Nouwen, Reaching Out
Mount Aloysius College Est. 1853