My undergraduate honors thesis is dedicated to the least of these. There is at least a part of me that wanted to write this thesis so that those who read it would be convinced to help the distant destitute. Unfortunately, this motivation often seems to be overshadowed by other concerns: I want a pat on the back from my committee or…that’s basically it actually.
The motivational overshadowing that has occurred with this thesis is perhaps a reflection of what has happened (and has the potential to continue happening) in my study of philosophy. I began studying philosophy because it brought me closer to the Divine. In Plato’s words,
the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief…But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally, either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.
An interesting side note: Plato’s remarks about a “fixed” eye resemble remarks made by Jesus.
This post, then, is perhaps a chance to recenter my focus on why I do the things I do. This thesis is for the least of these, which means that it is for God. My major is so that I can get closer to God both by seeking the Divine in my studies and by ushering in the kingdom of heaven into the “towers of academia.”
A Wikipedia search on dedication reveals that it originally meant, “the act of consecrating an altar, temple, church or other sacred building.” It was a feast that began to celebrate the reconstruction of the temple under a ruler named Antiochus Epiphanes. Apparently, Psalms 30:1-12 was recited during the feast of dedication.
The chapter essentially contains a monologue about thanking God for his blessings and favor. It goes over how the author prayed and begged for God’s mercy, and eventually, he/she received it. Although in the original context, the author is referring to the construction of a temple, perhaps I can seize this text and take it to be a reminder of the potential joy of those who are saved by the life saving care that will be given as a result of my writing of this thesis. Not only will the thesis (hopefully) convince others to give, but it is also convincing me and providing me the tools necessary to stay dedicated to the cause of the least of these.
Hopefully this etymological exploration will also serve as a reminder whenever I see that the thesis is “dedicated” to the least of these.