The dangers of being correct PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 30 December 2015 15:48

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

The dangers of being wrong about something are quite obvious. We don’t have to waste time about that, though we have to remember that even in our mistakes and failures, something good can always come out if we just open ourselves to the ever wise and omnipotent providence of God.

The perfect example of this case would be St. Paul who in the middle of his persecution campaign against the early Christians had his most extraordinary conversion, and later became one of the most zealous apostles of Christ. From an intense hater of Christians, he became their most fiery lover and defender.

It’s rather the dangers of being right and correct that we need to expose, because they are more subtle and beguiling, and therefore harder to recognize and to avoid.

What brought this thought to mind was when other day a bunch of small Grade 1 girls in the school where I work approached me.

They were quarreling over something which I don’t remember now. But what struck my attention was that each one was citing what her mother or father or lola or teacher said to justify what they said or did.

I was actually amused more than anything else to see their little drama. Each one wanted to prove that she was right, and that, to me, was the real problem. No one wanted to be wrong, or to admit that the others also have a point even if their views were different and even contrary to that of each one of them.

And the thought came to me that what these little girls were doing is actually what is also taking place among much older people who ought to know much better. The latter can go through a lot of bashings and mudslingings, invoking all sorts of principles thatthey consider infallible, universal and absolute in scope.

Among the dangers of thinking that one is right in something is that he tends to become closed-minded and rigid. He finds it hard to consider the views of others, especially if they are different from his. He can get obsessive with an idea, a perfectionist sans charity.

With these dangers, it would be highly probable that one can become impatient, uncharitable, intolerant. He can end up always irritable and uptight. It would not be long before he isolates himself from others, and develops all kinds of eccentricities—what we usually describe as weird or strange.

Since he is prone to be judgmental, he is quick to brand and stereotype people and events, lazy to go any deeper in his knowledge of people and things, and so he can end up being simplistic.

What would worsen this is when he thinks he is always right and there’s nothing that can prove him wrong. The self-righteousness then becomes firm and even invincible. But there’s a certain bitterness that eats him. What drives him is not love but more of hatred, envy, insecurity.

The funny thing about all this is that this kind of attitude, mindset and lifestyle can be shared by a good number of people. It can become first as a subculture, and later on if not corrected, it can become a dominant and prevailing culture of the people.

There can be an apparent unity, more of a façade really, with hardly any genuine substance inside, But what they can have in common are mere show-offs of arrogance, pride, vanity and mutual envies.

We have to be ready to do battle against these dangers.

While it’s always good to be right, we have to make sure where that righteousness would come from. If it’s not based on God who is love with a love that was shown to us concretely in Christ, whatever goodness or righteousness we claim would always be suspicious, at best.

The righteousness that comes from God will always be open-minded, eager to listen and dialogue with everyone and to adapt to any situation. It is willing to be patient and to suffer when contradicted even as it proclaims and defends itself in season and out of season. It would know when to speak and when to keep quiet.

In our current political exchanges, it would be nice to remember these dangers of being right and to be guarded against them.

It would be nice if we learn how to be charitable in our arguments, avoiding insults. ad hominems, non-sequiturs and all kinds of  fallacies, sarcasm and ironies. This can only be the right way to arrive at a most fair appreciation of issues and personalities.

Let’s hope we can be mature and not childish in our discussions.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 January 2016 18:11