Person over ideas
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA
November 4, 2009
IN our dealings with
others, a daily, constant affair, we should pay a lot of attention to
the concrete circumstances and conditions of the persons rather than
just pursuing the abstract merits and demerits of our ideas, views and
We need to be personal
rather than just go ideological, simply because in the end it’s not
ideas we are actually interested in but rather the persons themselves.
The ideas are hollow without the persons who are their subjects or
targets, their sources and goals, their beginning and end.
Not that the ideas are
unimportant. They are indispensable. But we need to hew them according
to our actual grip of the who and how the persons we are dealing with
We should not allow
our ideas to have a life by themselves. They have to be made fit to
all the persons involved – us, others and ultimately and constantly
God. This is not just a theory. This is simply how things ought to be!
Without this conscious
effort to adapt ideas to the circumstances of persons, they can go
wild and extreme, absolutizing what is relative and vice-versa, and
easily deteriorating into biases, rash judgments, and other forms of
lack of charity.
That’s why our
Christian faith always admonishes us to put charity and truth
together, as well as mercy and justice. Truth and justice get spoiled
once they get detached from charity and mercy. These latter virtues
precisely lead us to treat others the way they should be treated – as
persons and ultimately as children of God.
In Pope Benedicts’s
third encyclical, Caritas in veritate (Charity in the truth),
the same point is reiterated when he said: “To defend the truth, to
articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it
in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity.”
He also said that it’s
when charity and truth are put together when meaningful and
substantial dialogue among different and even conflicting parties as
well as genuine integral human development can take place.
This, of course, will
be a very dynamic affair, for which a lot of patience is needed, a lot
of adjustments and adaptations made, an abiding monitoring of personal
and other circumstances done.
Of course, this
presumes the fundamental virtue of humility, since it’s only when one
humbles himself – that self-denial that Christ told us – can we be
patient and progress in our task of blending charity and truth
We need to develop the
necessary attitudes and the appropriate skills to comply with this
human requirement, because our tendency to go impersonal and to be led
simply by ideas is strong and sadly quite inherent in us.
We need to go through
a perpetual cycle of mutually relating theory and practice, doctrine
and experience, ideas and persons, study and work, isolation for
purposes of recollection and immersion through actual contact with
In our dealings with
others, we have to know when to move fast and when to go slow, when to
be demanding and when to be tolerant, when to be driven and when to
waste time with them.
We have to wary to
with our inclination to be indifferent to others, to consider only our
own preferences and views, to control or herd others according to our
schemes and plans.
We should find time to
really get to know others thoroughly. Thus, we have to invest time and
effort to improve our relationship with them, enhancing our friendship
and fraternity with them.
And in this, we have
to go all the way, down to the personal and even the intimate
spiritual and moral levels. We have to learn how to listen, and simply
to journey with them, but always trying to be a good friend, a help, a
We also have to be
wary of the alienating elements that are sprouting thick and fast in
our environment nowadays. These are the gadgets and other facilities
that worsen our self-absorption by putting up invisible walls that
separate us from others.
We need to continually
examine ourselves just to be more discerning, since we are now living
in a world where the line between good and evil is often blurred and
where the new things can trigger dormant weaknesses that can lead us
into a spiral of unhealthy obsessions.
Indeed, we need to
constantly focus our mind and heart first of all on God, then on
others before we think of ourselves and of our brilliant ideas.