From ignorance to
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
May 2, 2018
I WAS happy to read an
article recently about why we are increasingly unaware of our
ignorance and why it is a big problem. It caught my attention
because that is also my observation. In fact, in many of my columns,
I have expressed that fear at least implicitly.
The main argument of the
article is that we in our time are becoming so sure of our opinions
that they now become our convictions and our core beliefs, as if
other opinions are completely regarded as wrong.
In other words, opinions
now are considered to be absolute such that there cannot anymore be
a variety of legitimate and differing and even conflicting opinions.
A person’s opinions are now held as gospel truths.
The article went on to say
that opinions considered as gospel truths can obviously attract
like-minded people, and when they acquire a critical mass, that is
when these opinions become the absolute truths for them. That is
when ignorance of the absolute truth who is God becomes invincible
and can easily fall into arrogance.
We have to be most careful
about our opinions. We have to learn to distinguish between what
merely is an opinion that can never cover everything about a
particular issue and much less about the whole reality, and what is
a matter of absolute truth that can come only from God through our
faith, as revealed in full by Christ, and that touches on what is
truly essential in our life.
Especially these days when
we are bombarded with an increasing number of issues to tackle, a
profusion of data and information, and a growing number of means of
communication and exchanges of ideas, we need to have a good hold of
our horses so as to avoid mixing opinions with absolute and
We have to practice a
certain detachment from our opinions, no matter how strongly we feel
about them, so that we can give due attention to other opinions,
especially those that are not only different from ours but are also
opposed to ours.
In our exchanges and
discussions, let us always try to be civil and courteous. Opinions
are no absolute truths. They don’t deserve to be promoted and
defended at the expense of charity.
The usual problem we
encounter is that we tend to make our opinions the only position
that is right. This is outright wrong. We would be falling into what
St. Paul once said of those who are “ever learning but never able to
come to a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim 3,7) We can feel that we
have the truth because of the amount of data and information we
have, but we still would miss the point.
We have to be wary of what
looks like a common world trend now to assert our opinions to death.
And this is not only in the field of politics, but more so in the
area of faith and morals. We need to be protected from the subtle
and silent osmotic effect that this trend can come to us.
We have to know, for
example, how not to be quickly taken by the easy accessibility and
speed of the Internet in giving us data and information and in
sharing our views and opinions.
In this regard, we have to
strengthen our virtues of prudence and tact. But, alas, how many are
really thinking about these virtues today? In fact, in many talk
shows especially in the US, bashing and mudslinging have become a
standard practice. Disagreements are not anymore civil.
In homes and schools, let
us teach the young ones the true art of opinion-making and of civil
and charitable discussions. We need to teach the kids how to
distinguish between mere opinion and absolute truth, and where we
can have the former and where to find the latter.