REFLECTION: Call for sobriety and magnanimity PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 23 November 2011 14:19

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

I was just amused to notice certain differences in the behavior of our leaders and public officials when faced with issues and charges.

I remember that when a few months ago some bishops were falsely accused of misusing government money to buy Pajeros, the bishops immediately came forward to both apologize, which was not necessary, and explain the matter to the public.

They even went to the extent of returning the so-called Pajeros that turned out to be simple vans used for charity—again something that was not necessary. In fact, the embarrassed investigators asked them to keep the vehicles, but the bishops would not.

They were willing to face the taunters and the senators and earnestly showed the real score of the issue. The public were mainly supportive of the bishops, though there of course were some people who “spat and buffeted” them.

But when politicians are concerned, the reaction of everyone, both those involved and the public in general, takes a different, very ugly turn. It would seem that in this field, everyone has the right to do anything, including the unethical and the immoral, to save one’s face or to show one’s outrage.

There’s an open season for venting one’s anger, hatred, deceit, revenge, envy, and many other forms of vile, venom and malice. Restraint and moderation are discarded as passions and emotions are given free rein.

Gloating over one’s misfortunes, otherwise a taboo during normal times, becomes a standard practice in times of tension and crisis, and this can be done not only by ordinary people, but also by politicians with high and very honorable positions and substantial credentials.

This is really a shame on all of us. Are we still human? Are we still Christian? Does a mistake one can commit—no matter how serious and many times still to be investigated—warrant public lynching in the media and elsewhere? Does it authorize us to let go of our rule of law, no matter how imperfect it is?

I was reading the opinions of many people in the social networks, and though there were many valid points raised, it could not be denied that there was a prevalence of poor thinking and reasoning, rash judgments and knee-jerk reactions, poisoned partisan views that have already abandoned objectivity and fairness, pure bashings.

We all need to discipline ourselves when we are faced with exciting issues. We have to make sure that we have good control of our agitated feelings and emotions, and not only should we try to think rationally, but also to see to it that our thoughts and feelings are infused with charity.

Yes, charity should never be cast aside even as we try to pass through the trickiest stage of exacting justice on some persons. Charity is not an optional item. It is a basic, indispensable requirement in our human and Christian behavior.

We cannot say that just because we are dealing with politics, or we are dealing with a crook, etc., that we can be excused from charity, or that we can feel free to tear that person’s name if the not person himself to shreds.

Sad to say, this seems to be the prevalent mindset of many people. We really need to dismantle this mentality, because it is not human, much less Christian. It makes us insensitive to the real essence of righteousness and plunges us to a blinding self-righteousness.

We have to learn to be sober, allowing our thinking to be inspired by true love and compassion even as we also have to uphold justice. We need to broaden our perspectives so we can consider many other factors, taking us away from our biases and prejudices, and giving us a fuller picture of the situation.

We should feel uncomfortable when we find ourselves in some rage, and should do all to get out of that state as soon as we can. Our problem is sometimes we like to prolong that mood for as long as we can.

We have to be magnanimous, quick to forgive and to ask for forgiveness, focused more on what is constructive rather than dwelling on the distracting and destructive.

We should instead look for ways on how to heal wounds, to bring back those who strayed, to look for the lost, to strengthen the weak, to remedy what is defective in our systems. We have to look forward more than backward, the future more than the past.

Sobriety and magnanimity should not just be nice words. They have to be lived.