Human and Christian consistency in politics PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 June 2015 08:53

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

Politics, of course, is an unavoidable concern for us. As social beings, we cannot help but get into politics. That’s simply because we have to organize ourselves as a people. And it’s a need that will always be an on-going affair.

We need laws to govern the way we live, we need peace and order, we need a working economy. We need leaders on whom we invest some authority. These and a lot more is what politics is all about.

In all of these, we have to find ways of how to meet them. That’s why we have elections, among many other others. Of course, the conduct of our elections is also subject to some agreed rules.

Now, with the elections coming up, the political fever is upon us, and the big challenge now is how to maintain our human and Christian consistency—some say, sanity—in politics.

What we are seeing now, even while quite early yet in the game, is a gathering storm of political attacks. There’s a lot of mudslinging, faultfinding and muckraking, reckless branding and stereotyping.

If not these, then they go to the other extreme of unmitigated praises and alleluias of personalities whom they practically portray as completely sinless, the savior of the world, while the opponents are pictured as the devil incarnate, the ultimate villain deserving instant death and hell.

Some say this is normal. I say it’s not. It’s inhuman, let alone, unchristian. There seems to be an unspoken understanding that when it comes to politics, we can behave like animals, fighting each other over ideas and opinions.

Some say we need not distinguish between the persons of the candidates, officials and supporters, and the different positions they hold. Everyone and everything is fair game. Killing can even be resorted.

We have to say that this cannot be. We are supposed to be ruled always by something indispensable even in our most contentious affairs.

Everyone seems to forget that charity is what keeps us human and Christian in politics as it is in every aspect of our life. But especially in politics where, by its nature, things can be messy and tricky. Precisely the complexity of politics makes charity most indispensable.

Charity is what enables us to respect and love one another in spite of our sharp differences and conflicts, thereby following Christ’s new commandment of loving one another “as I have loved you.” He even went to say that we have to love our enemies. For this love, Christ ultimately had to die on the cross. All these for the simple reason that first and last, we are brothers and sisters, creatures of the same God even if we call him by different names and describe him in a variety of ways.

Truth is we are all members of the same family. Whether we like it or not, we are obliged to love one another no matter what. This is a basic truth that we should never forget, especially when we do politics.

Some say that charity dilutes if not dissolves many important values like truth, justice, fairness, etc. That’s why many politicians do not give much attention to charity. At best, they render only some lip service to it.

But hardly anything can be farther than the truth, since charity, in fact, holds the highest standards insofar as these values are concerned. What is often conveniently forgotten is what while charity requires the most stringent criteria of truth, justice, fairness, etc., it goes much further to include mercy and compassion.

It’s charity that would enable us to have a certain openness to all views and positions, including those we do not agree or even consider as objectively wrong. It’s not so much because of the views that we are open as to the persons who hold them.

If, in the worst scenario, we believe that they are in error, we can try to correct them with utmost delicacy, strictly following due process that governs the proper resolution of issues.

We should avoid ad hominem attacks, rash judgments that often are a product of an orchestrated mob rule, assertions and accusations that hardly have any strong basis or are simply based on hearsay.

We should try to tame our passions that often blind us and push us to do uncharitable things. While we inevitably have our biases and preferences, let’s also be open and fair to those who differ from us.

In the end, we should be guided by a well-formed conscience, always attentive to God’s will and ways in doing politics, and especially when choosing our public officials.