WE have to play it cool when we discuss matters of
opinion. These, in the first place, are views that are hardly based on
absolute truths of faith and dogmas. They are more expressions of
one’s preferences and tastes, and therefore we should expect a wide
spectrum of differences, since things depend on people’s different
temperaments, backgrounds, cultures, etc.
Yes, we can have some exchanges and try to sort out these
different and even conflicting opinions if only to clarify things and
perhaps to eke out a most fair view with respect to a particular
issue. We can attempt to have a kind of consensus.
But all these should be done in an atmosphere of mutual
respect and utmost charity and delicacy. We have to avoid bitter zeal,
sarcasm, irony, insults, ad hominems, mockery, vulgarity, nitpicking,
fault-finding, one-upmanship, the crab mentality and the like.
In our discussions, let’s see to it that we try our best
to see and understand why the others have views that are different and
even conflicting to ours. We have to know where they are coming from.
Let’s be conscious of the most subtle trick to impose our
opinions on others by asking questions or clarifying based only on our
biases and preferences. I must say that in this regard, many people
fail to realize. This usually happens in the area of political issues.
And that’s why, very often the discussion turns into
wrangling, bashing and slamming. It becomes ugly and unproductive. We
have to learn the art of agreeing to disagree, and manage to leave the
hot discussion as friends and gentlemen. In this way, we can maintain
a certain unity among ourselves despite the wide diversity.
Even in matters of faith and dogma where our core and most
sacred beliefs are involved, we should not impose ourselves on others.
We can proclaim our beliefs and we can do it as forcefully as
possible, but still always in the context of charity.
We have to follow what St. Paul once said—that we have to
speak the truth in charity so that “we will in all things grow up into
Christ himself, who is the head of the body, the Church.” (Eph 4,15)
In the end, to be like Christ, “alter Christus,” if not “ipse
Christus,” is our ultimate goal.
And if we look closely at the example of Christ, he was
always open to anything even as he proclaimed the truth which is not
anymore a matter of opinion. He showed utmost fidelity to his mission
without twisting people’s arms, much less, spewing threats.
In the end, he accepted death which can only mean that he
bore all the sins, mistakes, faults, and all the other negatives of
men. He offered not only understanding but also forgiveness.
We have to learn how to be sport and cool in our exchanges
of opinions. We need to rein in our emotions and have a clear vision
of the ideal that we have to live in these discussions. Charity should
always prevail, because the truth, justice and all the other values we
are interested in would lose their essence if charity is absent.
And charity here can only come from the charity of God as
revealed to us and lived fully by Christ.