By Fr. Roy Cimagala
How can we be objective and fair in our discussions and exchanges when there will always be many angles, layers and spins in which any issue, whether it is an opinable matter or even a dogmatic one, a highly contentious political issue or a long-settled doctrine of faith, is talked about?
In fact, in any discussion, we should expect people to have not only different views but also conflicting ones. This should be no surprise to us. In fact, we should be ready for it and even be welcoming to it. Thus, it is important that we be open-minded, willing to listen to everyone even if we are quite convinced that one is clearly wrong or off the mark.
We have to know how to keep a tight grip on our emotions that usually are the first ones to react badly especially when we are contradicted. We should try our best to be rational, and more than rational, we have to be charitable, with the charity of Christ who even managed to just take it easy when he was insulted and mocked. (cfr. 1 Pt 2,23)
Let’s always keep in mind that everything is under God’s control and that there’s always a time for everything—“a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace…” (Ecc 3,7-8)
The important thing to keep in mind is simply to be with God in whatever state in our discussion we find ourselves in. With him, we would know how to make things, even the wrong ones, serve the common good, especially the ultimate and eternal common good.
Remember that part in the gospel where even Caiaphas, the high priest, proposed that Christ be put to death to save the Jewish nation. “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man dies for the people than that the whole nation perish,” he said. (Jn 11,50)
From that evil proposal, the divinely-inspired words of the gospel concluded that Caiaphas “did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children to bring them together and them one.” (Jn 11,51-52)
In other words, Caiaphas played along in the “game-plan” of God for the salvation of man. God is always in control of things. He knows how to draw good from evil. With him everything works for the good. (cfr. Rom 8,28)
The same can be said of the magnanimous Old Testament Joseph who told his guilt-stricken brothers who did evil to him: “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Gen 50,20)
Before the many different, confusing and even conflicting views in our discussions and exchanges, we should just be sport and be open-minded. Even if one is wrong, it does not entitle us to be uncharitable to him. We may correct, suggest, advise, clarify, etc. to him, but we should never fall into lack of charity.
It’s in charity that we become objective and fair in our discussions amid the many angles, layers and spins people put into them. Objectivity and fairness is not so much about who is right or more right in terms of being empirically or scientifically correct. It’s more about charity, the charity as shown by Christ, and commanded to us by him.
Besides, these many angles and layers can be a rich source of knowledge for us. They deepen and widen our understanding of things. If we have the proper spirit, if we have the charity of God, we can always learn something precious from all these angles and layers, including the wrong ones.
It is with this charity that we can follow what Christ once said—that we be “as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves.” (Mt 10,16)