In matters of opinion
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.
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.