Political genius or
January 26, 2013
As a priest, I of course do
not do politics, that is to say, I cannot run for public office, I
cannot take partisan positions in public, unless the issues involved
are clearly inhuman and unchristian. But I should follow it closely,
because politics is part of life and needs to be guided by the proper
spirit of Christ.
That’s the reason why there
is the social doctrine of the Church that also covers politics. While
it is the lay faithful who can take active and direct part of it, the
clergy should also see to it that the whole political life in all
levels of society is done properly.
Besides, the clergy is also
part of the citizenry, subject to the laws of the land. They are part
of the political life, obviously in a way proper to their state.
Everyone takes part of politics always in accordance to one’s state
and possibilities, the clerics in their own way, the lay also in their
This doctrine of the Church
has to be understood properly. It is that way because the priest’s
mission is eminently spiritual and supernatural in nature. It’s a
mission that is above but not exempt from the understandable
differences and conflicts of temporal affairs such as politics.
Thus the priest has to be
extremely discerning to do his part in the political life of the
country. He is not supposed to take a passive stance in it. He should
be disinterested, but not uninterested. At least he has to pray a lot,
offer a lot of sacrifices, do a lot of catechizing, etc. He has to be
keenly interested in it, but in a specific way.
Having said that preamble, I
must admit that I enjoy reading political developments here and
abroad. There is obviously the chance to get excited with all the
twists and turns of the political maneuverings politicians do. But at
the end of the day, I bring these political items to prayer, trying to
discern how things ought to go.
And I learn a lot from this
exercise, since it allows me to read between the lines, to somehow
read the minds of people, politicians especially, and to read the
signs of the times. While there is a lot of tentativeness in this
exercise, it actually gives me a lot of ideas and all sorts of
impulses that I need to tame and clarify.
As of now, I learn a lot
from certain moves of some politicians, both local and international.
There are instances when I think the move is stupid, but also many
instances when I am convinced the move is brilliant, is a
Since politicians are at the
forefront of the development of society, they cannot help but be
extremely cautious and smart in their actuations – their planning,
their speeches, their public appearances, etc.
But they cannot avoid
controversies and conflicts. And I must say that I admire how some of
them handle these situations well – how they explain their positions,
or defend them when attacked, how they have a good sense of timing and
of what to say to what kind of audience at a given time.
Some of them really have
excellent speaking talents, with sharp minds and witty tongues, and
very adept both in aggressive and defensive tactics. Obviously, there
are some who truly are political geniuses. But there sadly are others
who can only elicit the judgment, tentative at best, of being
political animals bereft of conscience.
Political developments are
actually good learning moments. They should not be wasted by tackling
it superficially as in simply giving knee-jerk reactions that tend to
exaggerate or oversimplify things and are prone to make negative
responses more than positive.
In short, politic
discussions and analyses should go beyond the level of the barbers.
Let’s pray that our political columnists really do their part well,
giving well-thought-out opinions and commentaries that should always
be characterized by charity and fairness.
Sad to say, there are
instances when some of these commentators are just out and out unfair,
painting their enemy-politicians as the devil incarnate while putting
their friend-politicians on a pedestal as if these are incapable of
sinning. That’s really over the top or way under the bottom.
We have to learn to hold our
horses when reacting to political issues. Let’s study them first,
weigh things disinterestedly. Better, bring them to our prayer and ask
God for light. We need to learn to relate political developments and
issues to God and to the common good.