Whereas in English engagement has as its synonym – commitment -, in Spanish it has a more ethical significance, as it is an obligation or word which has been given (DRAE). The etymology of commitment comes from Latin: compromissus, obliged together, from the cum: together and promissus, promise. This we will return to at the end of this presentation.
Fidelity, loyalty, constance, permanence, motivation, the involvement of feelings of belonging, are some of the consequences of engagement. These is much use of the terms consumer engagement, customer engagement, mobile advertising engagement, gaming as an instrument for engagement, user engagement, work engagement, shareholder engagement, engagement and virtual communities, audience engagement… Engagement is analysed, measured and applied, it transcends many different disciplines and is the object of various theses, research projects and articles.
Engagement is probably one of the new developing frontiers in communication of the twenty-first century.
In this issue, we appeal to you to reflect on engagement within different environments: corporate communication, marketing and advertising, journalistic communication, social, cultural, artistic and political communication, and finally the the most fruitful of environments – theological and spiritual.
To better understand these feelings that affect us, we offer as an example the film: Gran Torino (2008) by Clint Eastwood, a film replete with engagement.
Let us commence by looking at the tile of the film, which refers to the car, a “Ford Torino”, made between 1968 and 1976 by the Ford Motor Company, a company which the star worked in for his entire life. Walt Kowalski, of Polish decent, is extremely proud of his car. It is the pride felt not only for belonging to this company, but also a lifestyle. Walt believes that he has managed to own such a car thanks to dedication, effort and by maintaining values loyal to the company, working hard for many years. His car is a symbol of the American dream, the American way of life, followed with fervent belief, defending values which will leave their mark on the young Thao.
And then we have the young priest, a man that stays true to his promise, despite having the door closed in his face time and time again. Before dying, Kowalski’s wife had the priest promise to ensure that her husband confessed in order to rid himself of his tortured feelings of guilt.
Finally, commitment is also the path chosen by Kowalski/Clint Eastwood regarding his neighbours, said in more radical terms and in a very real sense: regarding those who are close to him. A commitment to his having “adopted” Thao in order to make him a strong and honest man, a commitment to his own life – facing up to his fears, forgiving and redeeming his guilt through the search for a new way of behaving in life, far removed from violence (forced and unforced, irrational) experienced by Kowalski in the Korean War.
A more recent film is Martin Scorsese’s film, Silence (2006), in which commitment is the pure and absolute dedication of martyrs which leads to the doubting and confusion of the apostates.
Just as occurred in Japanese society of the seventeenth century imagined by Shusaku Endo (1966), the commitment is as sought after as it is difficult to achieve in our present twenty-first century society and for this reason, engagement is one of the keys and the frontier of “New Communication”.
In our society, one open to all manner of relationships, as Jacques Philippe would say in La liberté interieure (2004), much like a supermarket in which everything is available, within reach, full of throwaway products, it is difficult to achieve a “Commitment”.
It is precisely this finding the keys that help stimulate engagement, analysing the obstacles in its way, discovering its benefits and consequences, that has instilled in us the desire to dedicate issue number 14 of our journal Comunicación y Hombre, to this topic.
We said at the beginning of this presentation that the etymology of “commitment” is that of a shared promise, an effort made towards compliance, but it is also faith that said promise will be kept and – and here we present our proposal – trust that this promise will be kept, is what really adheres us to this commitment. In other words, echoing those of San Ignacio de Loyola, A. Spadaro (26 April 2013) in his cyber-technology blog, in which he reminds us: “Man is always under construction, incomplete; better still: full of promise.”