Best of the Week 2018-2019: Excellence in College Prep


What is it that makes us human? Our desire to love was the focal point of Theology teacher Mr. Chris Merriman's Social Issues class this week. Students watched segments from "HUMAN," created by filmmaker and artist Yann Arthus-Bertrand who spent three years collecting real-life stories from 2,000 women and men in 60 countries. The film captured deeply personal and emotional accounts of love from people of all backgrounds, genders, races, cultures and religions. The underlying purpose of Mr. Merriman's lesson was to bring to light the social justice issues of our world that are entangled in what it means to love and that, despite all the differences that separate us, all humans can identify with our shared desire to love and be loved.

Throughout the video, individuals from various countries (Cuba, Brazil, France, Peru, Japan, Mexico, Senegal, Lebanon, South Africa, etc.) shared their personal love stories. As these stories unfolded, they began to touch upon the many social justice issues our world faces today and dove into different beliefs toward monogamy, polygamy, homosexuality, transgenderism, divorce and domestic violence to name a few. After listening to these testimonies about love, Mr. Merriman's class began their discussion, uncovering these examples of social justice issues and how people from all over the world seek love yet are faced with many difficult challenges. He brought to light how different countries, cultures and religions can enforce boundaries and limits on how people can love and who people can love and he addressed how time, location and technology can play a role in how people find love.

As a way to prepare them to think outside the box before heading to college and to be conscious of the social justice issues our world faces today, Mr. Merriman's lesson challenged his students to raise questions that test the justifications formed by societies and religions about love and to recognize that our limited sense of the world doesn't reflect the whole world with all of its complexity and diversity. We must learn to explain how and why we take justified stances on social issues that might be viewed as "normal" by some and "weird" by others, "right" by some and "wrong" by others. "The class was challenged to differentiate when a social issue is a matter of opinion and when it is more objectively expressing an issue of fundamental rights, justice, and freedom," says Mr. Merriman. "This is always done in the context of Catholic Social teaching which, in this unit's case, focuses on the meaning of love and its power to save."