Partisanship, openness, charity
- Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - November 30, 2015 - 9:00am

In our political discussions and exchanges, it's just fine to be partisan as long as we are open and respectful of all other views, including those that are different and opposed to ours. We should avoid any form of extremism by demonizing others who do not agree with us.

Partisanship is inevitable in our politics. And that's simply because we have different backgrounds and orientations, different preferences and priorities. Given our human condition, let alone, our weakness, mistakes and failures, we will always have differences among ourselves.

We should not be surprised by these, but rather learn to live with them as befits our human dignity. We should not allow that we be dragged by the dynamics of anger, animosity and hatred. Charity should always rule, even in our political choices as it should in all other aspects of our life.

Yes, we can be quite strong and fixed in our views, but this does not give us an excuse to let go of charity. In fact, these differences should be a good ground for charity to grow. Thus, the sharper the differences, the more intense should be our charity.

We have to avoid painting those who disagree with us as if they are the very personification of evil, completely incapable of doing anything good or saying anything true and worthwhile. This would be a simplistic and naïve way of looking at things, and as such, is fraught with potential dangers.

If we have to disagree, then let's disagree amicably, respecting each other and each other's position. No need for harsh words to be thrown, much less, uncharitable thoughts and bad intentions. Charity knows how to unite us even in our most hopeless and irreparable differences.

Sad to say, many of us today are behaving the opposite of what is proper to us. It starts with our political leaders and candidates down to the electorate and even to the general population, including children. We have to stop this.

We cannot paint a favorite candidate to be so perfect and saintly that we can observe no defect, mistake or fault in him.

Neither should we picture a disliked candidate to be so bad that we can find no saving grace in him.

Let's always remember that all the saints and the appointed patriarchs and prophets of old have their defects and mistakes too, even after their conversion. They were always struggling, because they know that their sanctity is always a work in progress. It is never completed in this life.  Also, even those who are generally considered as bad people are still capable of doing something good. I remember one  gospel episode where this possibility is illustrated. It's in the gospel of St. John:

"But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, 'You know nothing at all; you do not understand that it expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.'

"He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad." (11,49-52)

It is quite clear that even if by living charity, we may appear to be suffering a defeat according to human standards, God in his providence would know how to derive good from it.

We should not be afraid to suffer the consequences of human pride and worldly arrogance just because we try to be consistent with the requirements of charity. For those who love God and others, as St. Paul in his letter to the Romans would say, everything will always work out for the good.

Now that we are going through this delicate political process of electing our next leaders, we should try our best to avoid the pitfalls of emotional, knee-jerk reactions to the issues at hand.

Let us learn to be level-headed and to have a good grip of our emotions and passions. More than that, let us see to it that we follow the requirements of charity as strictly as possible. It is precisely in moments like this when charity is most needed.

Let's be careful with our words, and especially so with our thoughts and intentions. May they always be infused with charity, which is always the way to find the truth, to achieve justice and fairness proper to us. Charity is never a drag in our politics. It is what politics needs most of all! Charity is what leads us to the common good.


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