On expressing opinions PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 26 April 2016 11:27

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

I suppose it’s basic and commonsensical that when we express our opinions and engage among ourselves in some exchanges of our personal views, ideas and preferences, we always need to be courteous first of all and then always to be constructive and positive in our tack.

Upholding unity and living the requirements of charity rank far higher than simply wanting to be right or to score a point in any given contention. We should never forget this principle.

Especially in the area of politics, where opinions vary due to the immense variety of people’s preferences, we should see to it that the tone of our discourse is kept calm and respectful. Given the volatile character of politics, we should learn how to hold our horses, so as not to be carried away by our unbridled and intemperate passions and biases.

In the first place, we cannot be too strong or too sure about our political opinions because no matter how right we feel we are, we certainly do not have the exclusive right to possess all the truth. Everyone always has something valid to say, no matter how small.

And in the second place, there simply are just too many unknown factors that are at play. We cannot account for everything no matter how smart and diligent we are in building up our position.

And in the third place, we simply have to learn to live with imperfect persons and candidates, as well as imperfect systems and structures. We cannot be too simplistic as to paint our favoured candidate is entirely saintly, completely incapable of committing a mistake and our undesired candidate is entirely devious, completely incapable to doing anything good.

The least thing that we can do is not to be too attached to our ideas and our preferences. While it’s true that we somehow shape our destiny, that task is always a joint effort among ourselves and ultimately between God and us. Never ignore the indications of divine providence, the promptings of the Holy Spirit who is the Lord of history.

That is why, we can never have a political discourse that is fit for human beings, let alone, children of God, if it is not preceded, accompanied and followed up by prayer and sacrifice, together with due study and consultations.

Without these fundamental requirements we end up attackingeach other like cats and dogs. And that’s what’s happening these days.

In the heat of the political polemics, we are witnessing a lot of shooting from the hip, bullying, gloating, obsession to dominate, dogmatizing opinions, fault-finding, casuistry, mocking, mudslinging, etc. There’s a lot of tit-for-tat, the law of Talion reigning supreme.

As a consequence, the air gets polluted, proper thinking  and judging is hampered. Passions, tension and divisiveness escalate.

A perfect storm gathers.

Some people say that in politics, charity should not be the main consideration, but rather the truth, arrived at through gathering of facts and the strict use of reason and logic. But if we examine closely the allegations, we hardly find any truth that is not tarred by a litany of fallacies.

This is the real problem. When charity is set aside and is considered irrelevant in our political discussions, we are actually setting ourselves for a bigger trouble. It is precisely because of the peculiar character of politics, so vulnerable to deteriorate and to hit the skids, that charity should be the primary consideration as it should be in everything else in life.

We have to learn to be open-minded and tactful in our dialogues, motivated only by love for God and for everyone else, which is what the common good is all about in the end. We have to learn to be delicate in expressing our views as well as not to be too onion-skinned to receive the positions of others, especially the adverse ones.

We should try our best to listen most attentively to the others, get to know them very well and discern where they are coming from when they express their opinions. If they sound unreasonable or ridiculous and would even attack us, we should not feel provoked and tempted to mount some personal attacks. That would not help. Rather it will worsen things.

What we have to do is to help them see our point as calmly and as charitably as possible. If they do not accept it, then let it be. We have to learn to disagree without being disagreeable, always maintaining a healthy attitude towards everyone.

In the end, we should not forget that there is divineprovidence that will guide things to the proper end in spite of our blunders and stupidities.