Let’s be good partisans
Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Philippine Star) - March 25, 2013 - 12:00am

Now that we are again into exercising our duties as citizens to elect our public officials, we need to remind ourselves to be good partisans.

To be partisan is unavoidable among us as we try to choose our options in our effort to organize ourselves as a people journeying in this world toward our ultimate goal in heaven.

This is nothing to be surprised about, and should not cause us some misplaced fear as long as we live that aspect of our life properly.

To be partisan is a consequence of our human condition. Since we cannot help but have different backgrounds, preferences, views, etc., neither can we help to avoid being partisan of what we think would serve our interests as well as those of the others, or in fact, what would serve our common good.

We need to be respectful though of the different and even conflicting opinions, and just try our best to settle or resolve our differences in ways that are fair and charitable.

To be fair and charitable while being partisan can mean many things. It can mean always trying to enter into dialogue instead of imposing one’s opinions on others. That is why we need to promote anything that can enhance dialogue. We need to hear all sides that have something to say about a certain issue.

It can also mean the effort to get a consensus when a variety of options is presented. As much as possible we have to agree to a certain device or mechanism to arrive at a consensus. In other words, the rules of the game should be set out and accepted by all parties as much as possible.

Underlying all this is the attitude of charity and understanding towards others. No matter how strong we feel about views, ours or those of others — and indeed we can be strong in our views in certain situations — we should never lose this attitude of charity and understanding.

To be Christian about it, what we need to do, more than just voicing out our views and positions, is to pray and offer sacrifices before, during and after expressing these views and positions. We need to understand that it’s not only reason, much less, passion, that should be mainly used in sorting out our differences.

We have to use the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, because these are what are truly proper to us in our discussions as persons and children of God. Reason and passion without these theological virtues can get us nowhere but spiraling tension and conflict.

We should see to it that our mind and heart be freed of any trace of resentment, anger and the like during and after the exchanges. We should try to avoid as much as possible illegitimate biases and prejudices, always keeping an open mind and the attitude of quickness to understand, disregard and forgive whenever some mistakes are committed by the parties involved.

What should ideally happen is that greater love and understanding is achieved after the discussion, and even after one’s position is outvoted or defeated. Especially when the differences are merely matters of opinion, we should not make a big fuss as to whether who wins or who loses. We just accept what the consensus says.

And even if the differences are serious matters of faith and morals, we should make sure that that such situation does not entitle us to go against the requirements of justice and charity.

While it’s true that we can employ certain techniques and tactics of persuasion that can also be strong and forceful, we should see to it that we don’t depart from the sphere of justice and charity.

In fact, whenever we have to assume a strong position we have to make sure that we also are stepping up our eagerness to be most fair and charitable, only using legitimate means even if they involve inconveniences.

In this regard, we have to realize more deeply that we need to be vitally identified with Christ. It’s the only way we can remain truly fair and charitable amid these sharp and painful differences.

Vital union with Christ would teach us how to be patient, how to see things in the context of eternity, far from a narrow and shallow view of things and from a knee-jerk reaction to issues. It would teach us how to be merciful even as we try to go ahead with a strong and clear vision of things and do our best to win our case.

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