Discover more from Cardijn Reflections
Have you seen Prudence lately?
Have you seen Prudence lately?
Joseph Cardijn, as we all know, made his mark in his social activism and worked to improve the lives of the working class. Today, in the age of emerging technology, we are all in the “working class” to some degree or another. The See-Judge-Act method is a pastoral method that involves reviewing a situation, judging/discerning the greater good based on principles, and deciding how to implement those principles. The technique has its roots in Aristotle and Eudaimonia and Thomas Aquinas' description of Prudence. When we think of the See-Judge-Act method, frame the analysis on Prudence. Prudence is a virtue that involves using practical reason to choose the right means to achieve a good end. It is one of the four cardinal virtues: justice, fortitude, and temperance. Prudence's three natures (memory, intelligence, and providence) are represented by a crowned face at different life stages.
Now think of how many women you know with Prudence or Temperance as their name. There may be something to the idea that women are born to lead. Think Old Testament here….Just saying. Prudence comes from the Latin prudentia, which means wisdom and foresight—the KEY to understanding why we use the See-Judge-Act method.
Over the years, the Cardijn method was enhanced and developed by the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) and various Catholic liberation theologians of South America—many with the initials “SJ” after their names. Remember where Pope Francis grew up and his “Sitz im Leben.”
The method has been used in Catholic Social Teaching and Service Learning for decades.
Prudence is often considered the "mother of all virtues" because it makes all others possible. It involves:
Counsel, or inquiry, discovery, and deliberation
Judgment, or consent and choice
Command, or use or application
Prudence can also mean being careful about your choices, stopping and thinking before acting. It can involve not taking unnecessary risks and not saying or doing things you might regret later.
The dynamism that surfaced in the Catholic Church in the first half of the 1960s (Vatican II) should be seen today as applicable to our current emerging technology situation, especially as we find ourselves amid societal phase change generated by Artificial Intelligence.
In the church during the era of Cardijn, during the Industrial Revolution at its peak, and in the 1960s, we saw a blossoming of movements for social justice and development. All to address the societal change that was occurring.
We saw various communities of young and old, married and single, come into existence as a collaboration to manage and address for the greater good the change. We experienced Prudence!
Although many movements had roots pre-dating the 1960s, Joseph Cardijn's 'Young Christian Workers' began in Belgium in the 1920s but saw a significant surge as the economic conditions supported the expansion of its work.
The church and the people who sat in those pews for years were beginning to become better educated. People had access to more information as the mass media grew. More children were in schools, and think about how many children shared their knowledge with their parents. Labor unions were getting stronger and provided education and collaboration for many workers and their families. In the US, think of the rise of the UAW and Walter Reuther. Young people, in particular, were the beneficiaries of structured catechetical programs that followed the call of Vatican II to educate the people.
Today, we are in the midst of the autonomous revolution and the emergence of Artificial Intelligence. Please think of the mindset and atmosphere toward the end of the 1960s as it grew increasingly curious and critical. Like today, people were looking for more existential and social dimensions of the church, society, and their local communities.
What does or should their faith mean in their daily, worldly life?
The question becomes important when faced with ethical concerns about emerging technology.
The See-Judge-Act method is foundational in the world of Gustavo Gutiérrez. In 1971, he published his Theology of Liberation, which presented a clear structure of how the movement might proceed. Liberation Theology as an “Ethic to live by” would take some time for the contributions of the 'liberation theologians' to permeate the fabric of Catholic moral theology because, initially, it was not exactly 'global' in the way we understand it today. Once liberation theology was integrated with the See-Judge-Act methods, we see an expanded tool for engaging social ethics, and this tool is most important as we confront the technology and the impact it will have on society.
The Cardijn scope of See-Judge-Act woven as a seamless garment of liberation theology is seen in the Vatican II document called Gaudium et Spes; think about this quote in relationship to our world, the role Artificial Intelligence is playing and the value of being a human being; here is a quote:
“True, all men are not alike from the point of view of varying physical power and the diversity of intellectual and moral resources. Nevertheless, with respect to the fundamental rights of the person, every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, color, social condition, language, or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's intent. For in truth, it must still be regretted that fundamental personal rights are still not being universally honored. Such is the case of a woman who is denied the right to choose a husband freely, to embrace a state of life or to acquire an education or cultural benefits equal to those recognized for men.” #29.
All the documents of Vatican II, where Joseph Cardijn and many others ensured that the method was woven into the records, have much value for us today in understanding our current environment. It may be time to dust off those documents off the shelf and think about the Prudence we can glean from them to know how to address our changing world.
The Documents are just like the parables of Jesus. They teach us about life and what we should be doing. Read the documents and think about justice. Where do you see Prudence?
What does Pope Francis teach us about people, the planet, purpose, and prosperity that applies to what we see happening with emerging technology, especially Artificial Intelligence?
When you think of People, Planet, Purpose, and Prosperity, using the See-Judge-Act methods, think of Prudence; what comes to mind first? Why do you think that resonated first? And how and where do you see similarities today with technology? Think wisdom here.
When judging and discerning, do we think about the ethical aspects? Or our past experiences with ethics, and can those apply today in discerning the world of technology? Do we struggle to understand what ethics is all about as we think of technology? How do we come to understand what is morally right? And why is that? What is it about our life experiences that direct our decision-making as we think and discover new emerging technology?
What to change? What to change to? And How do we make that change happen? We can’t do this alone. How do we organize groups to work collectively and collaborate to bring about the Prudence of change?
What do we need to do to sustain the change we implement?
When implementing change, how do we overcome obstacles people will present? How do we develop meaningful buy-in?
When we act, what role do Prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance play in our process?
Suggested Reading: Documents of Vatican II. Most especially Gaudium et Spes and Dignitatis Humanae (the most controversial)
Volume 1, Issue 2, Fall 2018
Till next week, enjoy being who you are, and remember, The Currency of human contact is stories! People remember what they “see” in their minds. Tell your story! But above all, be a Mensch!
Photo compliments of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.