Can one ever really be at home when you are considered an outsider? To what extent can you change your homeland before it changes you? King writes in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” that “we will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny.” He continues to point out how African Americans and Native Americans were here throughout the history of the United States. He refers to America as “our nation” and references the American dream and the founding fathers. King clearly shows an affinity for America which he identifies as his homeland, yet he has been repeatedly rejected from it. More than that, he has been oppressed by his homeland. So, why does King fight for his home?
There seems to be a discrepancy between the ideal and the real homeland. The homeland King is fighting for is one of democracy, equality, and justice for all. That was and still is the ideal America, yet it still remains unattained. Today racism still exists and there continues to be injustices in our society. This difference between the ideal and the real represent the perspectives of “what is America,” similar to Rushdie’s “broken mirror analogy.” Based on identity and perspective, some are very satisfied with the “real homeland” of America, the current state of our country and they do not desire much change. Others yearn for America to be different and better, creating this notion of an “ideal homeland” for Americans. The debate over what to change in America and to what extent has been debated in American politics since the founding of the nation. With every election and debate, we exercise “the great wells of democracy.” Politicians argue over what will benefit our homeland best, but rarely, if ever, are these decisions made unanimously.
This makes me wonder to what extent is our concept of home in our control and to what extent is our homeland determined by others. Kolvenbach discusses the ideal Jesuit University. Ideally, justice and faith should be intertwined and promoted equally to equip students academically, socially, and spiritually, to face the “gritty reality of this world.” For many college students Loyola or another Jesuit University is their home for the majority of the year. Therefore, does this “ideal Loyola” come to define us or do we settle for the “real Loyola,” one that is far more flawed than this ideal image? How much authority do we have in determining our own homeland? In both articles, King and Kolvenbach convey idyllic model of America and Jesuit institutions. What happens when the ideal clashes with the real? Are these goals realistically attainable to reach such a perfect homeland?
These questions are mostly debatable and completely subjective, but conflict is guaranteed to appear when the ideal and the real state of our homes collide. I suppose one can be content in their homeland if one sees the potential for change and improvement. One can be content if they still love their home just a little more than they dislike it. While King is frustrated and angry at his America, he evidently still sees potential for change or else he would have abandoned his homeland. Unlike Okonkwo who died because he lost his homeland, in a way King and Kolvenbach are fighting to find their ideal homelands.