REFLECTION: Our individuality and universality PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 11:53



I believeI these are aspects of our life that we need to be more aware of. The idea is to let ourselves be more conscious of their implications and consequences, especially the rights, duties and responsibilities we have because of them.

This is not to mention the many dangers that often beset us due to our ignorance, misunderstanding or confusion about them. Sad to say, these dangers are usually taken for granted, and so we suffer as a result, often unnecessarily. We have to learn to avoid them, if not nullify or, even better, to eliminate them.

It is a fact of life that we as human persons are composed of a material body and a spiritual soul. The materiality of our body cannot be denied. The spirituality of our soul can be proven by the fact that we can do the spiritual operations of thinking, knowing, reasoning, willing and loving.

It is also because of the spirituality of our soul that we have the capacity to receive the supernatural grace that God, our Creator, in whose image and likeness we are made, constantly supplies us. This is especially true of the actual grace, more than the sanctifying grace.

As such, we are both individuated and at the same time meant to enter into communion with others, starting with God. That we are individuals never means we are meant to be alone, isolated, indifferent to others. And that we are meant for communion with others neither means we are not individuals.

That’s just how the cookie crumbles for us. Because of our material body, we will always be an individual subject of many things, since matter is the very principle of individuation. We will always be subject to space and time. We cannot be in two places at the same time, unless we enjoy the supernatural gift of bilocation.

Whatever we have, including those elements that can and ought to be shared with others, like our feelings and emotions, our talents and aptitudes, our skills and even some special charisms that we may be privileged to have, will always be held by our individual selves. They can never be held collectively or communally without first being held individually and abidingly.

This is where we have to learn how to blend our individuality with our universality. Yes, there will be some tension

involved here, but it is going to be a healthy tension that will give verve and suspense to our life. Let’s just be game about this.

May it be that while we enrich our individuality as we should, we don’t become individualistic, isolated and indifferent to others. In the same way, while we try to enrich our universality as we should, we avoid becoming so universally minded that we trample on our individuality with the legitimate differences that we will always have.

These differences, we have to understand, are meant not to be divisive and destructive, but rather to unleash the dynamics of complementation and ultimately of love and mercy and compassion which, in the end, are what matter in our life.

And so all the channels for dialogue and for fostering family life and fraternity among ourselves should be made available, and ideally, made part of a living and working structure of the family, firms and companies, and the community and society in general.

We have to learn to respect our individual differences, being quick to identify both our individual strengths and weaknesses, so as to integrate them properly toward a working and productive order.

We have to avoid petty envies and jealousies, unfair and biased comparisons, indifference as well as greed, rash judgments, gossips and backbiting, laziness as well as pride and vanity, unreasonable impatience and intolerance, bigotry and discrimination.

Sad to say, my personal experience is that even among priests who ought to know better and have the obligation to be models and examples of what is proper to us all, these bad things are rampant.

All of us have to learn to be always mindful and thoughtful of others, trying to follow what St. Paul once said to be

“all things to all men to save all.” (1 Cor 9,22) Take note that the motive to be all things to all men should be that of Christ, that is, to save men. Absent this motive, we cannot go far.

This may not be easy, given our human limitations, but if we strive to be with Christ, we too can say together with St. Paul: “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” (Phil 4,13) So, let’s not be afraid and doubtful. Let’s just have faith, and see how Christ can work wonders in us!