REFLECTION: Openness, tolerance, patience PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 16 August 2014 11:47



IT is indeed very painful to learn that even now, when we seem to have progressed a lot in the area of culture, knowledge and technology, we still can witness massive cases of primitive misunderstanding and barbaric brutality in some parts of the world.

A case in point is what’s happening in some areas in Iraq. There today, ethnic cleansing is taking place where some people are eliminated simply by reason of their religion, where even babies are not spared from being beheaded.

We need to issue a big, loud and worldwide call for openness, tolerance and patience among ourselves. Pope Francis has spearheaded this call, and we should do all what we can to heed it, starting always with prayers and sacrifice before we think of whatever political and even military solutions may be needed for this unspeakable problem.

Yes, we have to learn how to coexist peacefully and fruitfully in spite of and even because of our unavoidable differences and conflicts. Especially since we cannot avoid getting a more complex and complicated world as we go along our collective life, we need to learn well the art and skills of openness, tolerance and patience.

We should learn to make our differences, conflicts, mistakes, failures, offenses, etc. an occasion to love each other more and more. They are actually privileged occasions for us to broaden and extend our capacity to love, and to know the more subtle aspects and dimensions of love. Even the worst scenarios can offer us precious lessons.

Love has to prevail, because after everything is said and done, it is love that contains the ultimate of truth and justice that usually are the reasons why we fight each other, even to the point of killing each other.

And love means we need to be open to one another, accepting each one the way he is, including his defects, weaknesses, mistakes, failures, not in the sense of approving what’s wrong with them, but in the sense that they are first and last our own brothers and sisters whom we need to love regardless of the different conditions and adverse positions they may have in life.

Anyway, what usually also happens is that what we consider as wrong in others are actually just matters of opinion, preferences and tastes. They are not actually wrong and bad in themselves. They are just different from ours.

And so we just have to learn to be open-minded, respectful, tolerant even as we try to expound our own opinions, preferences and taste too. We have know how to give space for each one. The world is big enough to accommodate all these differences.

And even when we think that what’s wrong in others are not simply matter of opinion and taste but of things essential, we still need to be open, tolerant and patient in an appropriate manner.

We have to be ready to be heroic in these cases, generous and magnanimous in our behavior and reactions, willing to suffer more than to win some victory if the ultimate value of love would be compromised when a certain course of action would be pursued.

In this, we have to follow closely the example of Christ himself who bore all the sins of men just to save us. He is the standard, the pattern and the power in our effort to be open, tolerant and patient with everybody else.

Of course, this is possible only when we have faith in God’s word and try to conform our ways to God’s ways. But we can start learning these indispensable traits by pursuing them in our unavoidable daily encounters and conflicts with others.

For example, when we express our political opinions or views related to anything social or cultural or even religious, we should try our best to be respectful with one another.

Even in our sharpest disagreements, we should see to it that we remain courteous, civil and friendly. We should learn how to disagree agreeably, without poisoning the air around and, much less, cutting the bonds of friendship and brotherhood.

To be avoided at all costs are inflammatory language, insults, ad hominems, all kinds of fallacies, sarcasm, ironies, etc. These do not advance our dialogues and exchanges. Rather, they hamper and undermine our conversations.

We should see to it that we have a good grip of our emotions, our temper, our tongue, and much more, our hand. Rather, let’s follow what St. Peter once said:

“If you are a speaker, speak in words which seem to come from God…so that in everything God may receive the glory…” (1 Pt4,10-11)