REFLECTION: Fighting bigotry PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 11:29

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

It’s an old problem we all have. It afflicts everyone. You now see it everywhere, especially in our public discourses. It’s not anymore only a matter of being a racist or a religious bigot. It has morphed to affect practically every aspect of our life, be it politics or whatever.

It used to be associated with those who are usually regarded as conservative people, the rightists, the traditionalists.

But I have also met those whom we usually brand as liberals, leftists or progressives, and I must say that they are just as bigoted as the former. It can be very vocal or very quiet, which is the more dangerous kind.

Bigotry is basically asserting what one considers as the truth but without charity. As such, it cannot help but have a narrow view of things in general, and held at that with so much passion of attachment. A bigot is a rigid and close-minded person.

Bigotry is a hybrid of so many uncorrected anomalies of perception, judgment and reasoning. It oozes with pride, conceit, arrogance, an almost invincible sense of self-righteousness. That’s why it looks like it has some built-in mechanism for blindness and insensitivity.

It expresses itself in rash judgments, sharp, inflammatory words, and views and opinions that are considered exclusively infallible while those of others are jammed with errors and flaws.

A bigot usually thinks he is all correct, while others are all wrong. Not even an iota of correctness can be found in them. Often they use grandiose words and arguments to sound credible.

What is worse is that bigotry is now mainstream and is playing big-time. It is actually like an epidemic left ignored if not practically stimulated. Just look at the social networks. There the freedom of speech and freedom itself are dragged to their worst state of abuse.

Many people nowadays, first of all, feel that they can make comments on just about anything. Never mind if they have little or practically no background knowledge about a certain subject. They just want to say something. To be opinionated seems to be trend today.

All of a sudden you see a profusion of experts in global warming, political and social sciences, arts and technologies, religion and church affairs, for example. You take a cursory look at their bio-data, and there’s hardly anything there that would suggest they are qualified.

Amateurs want to sound like professionals, transients like to appear as residents of a certain place. What is meant to be given only a casual consideration is given a pseudo-serious one instead. That’s why opinions are made to sound like dogmas, and what is of relative value is garbed in absolute terms.

What is worse is that they feel their comments are the most correct, if not the only correct comment in the field. Courtesy, civility, openness, tolerance, a sense of self-restraint and moderation appear to be strangers if not enemies to them. These have no room in the mind and heart of a bigot.

Bigots want to attract attention. They get hurt when they are unnoticed. They would do anything, even feign humility and goodness, if that would draw attention to themselves.

We have to learn to fight bigotry, first of all, by nipping it in the bud. We have to check our attitudes and dispositions regarding all kinds of people, including enemies, whom we have to love, and regarding all kinds of issues.

We have to learn to be open-minded and tolerant, eager to listen to both sides or to all parties involved in a discussion, no matter how different or opposed their views are to ours.

We need to check on our emotions, keeping them under proper supervision and away from points which can trigger their uncontrolled outbursts. We have to learn to accept unpleasant developments and other forms of contradictions calmly.

In this, what is most helpful is to meditate on the passion of Christ, including his trial before Pilate where he remained quiet even when asked, “What is the truth?” There we can get an idea of what truth is.

Truth is not simply a matter of being correct, of being honest to one’s feelings, or of having the info asked and telling it.

Truth goes much further than these levels. It can include being quiet and simply willing to suffer all kinds of weaknesses, errors and malice of men.

It’s in the passion, death and resurrection of Christ where we can see the perfect blend between truth and charity, justice and mercy. It’s there where we can overcome our tendency for bigotry.