Balancing tolerance and intolerance PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 21 September 2015 14:03




That may sound impossible, but in the world of man I believe we just have to try our best to achieve it. I believe there is actually a chance for this, a basis for its feasibility. Our spiritual nature, if grounded and nourished properly, is capable to fuse together what at first sight may look like a contradiction.

But there’s the rub. Many of us think little of our spiritual life. Thus, many of us do not know what it’s all about, how it is developed, where it is to be rooted and oriented, etc. We seem to be contented only with what we see, feel and think, or human acts that flow mainly from our material dimension rather than the spiritual.

In fact, any talk about spirituality is practically considered as taboo especially in public. If ever it has to be taken up, then it can only be done in private, and better in whispers. This is the underlying tragedy of our times. We seem averse to acknowledge the reality of our spiritual nature, its corresponding needs and our duties toward them.

This is unfortunate because with all the confusing things bombarding us today, we need to know how to cruise our life properly and safely, with the destination clearly identified and not compromised.

For example, there are now many billboards sprouting along our highways and main streets promoting all sorts of products but unavoidably also promoting values that are confusing if not outright wrong. While we have to be tolerant to our increasingly multi-layered culture, we should also be increasingly discerning of their harmful effects.

We can easily see the double effects—both good and bad—when it comes to some products like junk food, cigarettes, coal and others that have immediate harmful effects on health and ecology. But it’s the other products—beauty, recreation, toiletries, fashion, etc.—that pose a much trickier challenge.

In the ads of these products, one can readily discern vanity, arrogance, an invitation to be self-centered and frivolous, to exaggerated pleasure and comfort seeking, to greed, lust and unrestrained satisfaction of instincts, to pretension and hypocrisy, etc.

Worse, these erroneous values are now made the mainstream elements of society. They are considered the new normal. Their reciprocal virtues, like humility, meekness, discretion, modesty, moderation, etc., are now the new evil.

Consider a sampling of the slogans and taglines used: “Gotta have that body,” “Ask for more,” “Obey your thirst,” “What you want is what you get,” “For the pleasure of sensual living,” “When you’ve got it, flaunt it,” “Live richly,” etc.

Always set with titillating pictures, the slogans at least

have a double meaning that teases the viewers and makes them prone to some invasive impertinent and incontinent thoughts and feelings.

We’ll never know what goes inside the minds and hearts of people, but neither can we deny that many bad things pass by there. No state law can reach that part of our life to regulate things. We need to be ruled by a higher and spiritual law. And that’s why we need to strengthen our spiritual life.

When we are remiss of our duty to take care of our spiritual life, there’s no way to go but to further degeneration and decadence, even if such process can be made glossy and glamorous with a well-entrenched wrong ideology.

A liturgical prayer captures this need of ours and suggests a solution. It says: “Father, help us to seek the values that will bring us eternal joy in this changing world. In our desire for what you promise, make us one in mind and heart.”

We have to realize more deeply that for us to cruise properly and safely in these confusing times, we should not be afraid or ashamed to go to Christ, who is the perfecter of our humanity, the source of all goodness. We should disabuse ourselves from the idea that our perfection and goodness can come from somewhere else.

For this we need to pray and be familiar with God’s word that in the Letter to the Hebrews is described as “living and effectual, and more piercing than any two-edged sword, and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (4,12)

It is precisely when our spiritual life is nourished by the word of God, made alive in the Church through the liturgy and the direction of the hierarchy, that we can balance tolerance and intolerance in our environment today. It is in this happy balance that virtue is achieved.