When order becomes a disorder

- Fr. Roy Cimagala - The Freeman

Order, of course, is a great virtue. We have to do everything to develop and live it well. And also to spread it as widely as possible, making ourselves, if need be, its models and endorsers, especially when the prevalent culture is precisely lacking in it.

Many of our problems are caused because we do not live order as we should. We misplace things, so we have trouble finding them. We fail to take note of something, so we forget them. In the end, we waste time, effort and even money, since we may have to replace lost or broken items.

Things can even get worse, as when the lack of order becomes habitual, attitudinal, systemic and cultural in our life and society. We don't have the habit of making plans and schedules. Our sense of priority is a mess. We prefer to be guided by spontaneous impulses rather than by a sober assessment of things.

We like to delay doing things, and when we finally begin to work, we drag our feet. Tardiness becomes a norm to us. Aggravating things further is the advent of the multi-tasking culture that easily adds confusion to the mess.

To top it all, we can start to rationalize our lack of order as being human, as if to be human is not to live order, contradicting the abundant evidence of order in nature. We prefer simply to be at the mercy of the situation and the circumstances, however they may be.

Some ideologies have, in fact, been developed based on these notions. Relativism and situation ethics are samples and have been duly exposed as such by the Church magisterium.

At bottom, what they teach is an anything-goes, free-for-all lifestyle. Nothing can be held absolute. Everything is relative. Everything depends on us, however we take ourselves. We make ourselves our own God.

Obviously there's always something good and true in them, otherwise, these ideologies would not attract anyone. And for whatever good and true they have, we can take advantage in some way. But let's always be prudent.

That's because if looked at closely, what's actually followed are mere instincts, emotions at the moment, personal preferences and biases, fads and trends, and the mundane and self-seeking criteria of practicality, convenience, popularity, profitability and the like.

But there's a kind of 'order' that is actually a disorder. It is the kind that usually afflicts those who are generally regarded as 'good', 'intelligent' or even 'holy' people. It is the kind that converts order into an obsession, that makes one rigid and inflexible in his ways, and usually leads him to be judgmental, self-righteous, closed-minded.

It is an 'order' that is pursued with bitter zeal, and usually leaves one with a psychological illness called obsessive-compulsive syndrome. One becomes a controlling, calculating and manipulative agent.

He is often deaf and blind to the developments around, insensitive to the feelings and conditions of others. It's his ways, his criteria, his opinions that must be followed. He can hardly countenance deviations from what he expects from others.

He finds it hard to adjust to others, and to adapt to ways different from his. Any concession in this regard is merely token, assumed mainly for the sake of convenience, never of broadmindedness and charity.

Because of this attitude, he can worry a lot, suffer a lot of strain, much more than what can be considered normal. All this can leave a mark on his over-all appearance and behaviour. He can look always dour and snobbish.

His perfectionism is insensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. More than God's will which can also be gleaned from the developments around-the so-called signs of the times-it's his will that dominates.

Sad to say, while our common understanding of disorder is still rampant today, we can already see a growing number of those afflicted with the disorder of the so-called 'order' of the perfectionists.

We have many very opinionated people nowadays who try to impose a monolithic view of things when plurality and diversity of opinions is, in fact, most welcome and very healthy.

Even some church people exceed the limits of their teaching power of doctrine and dogmas to areas like politics, business, sociology, etc., where different and even conflicting opinions are not only allowable, but also are necessary.

We definitely have to do something about this, trying to nip it in the bud as soon as we notice its symptoms, especially among the young ones. Families and schools are the best venues to correct this disorder early enough.

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