PARADOXICAL

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

 

Unity in plurality


Unity in plurality

By Fr. Roy Cimagala
INQ7.net

Last updated 00:53am (Mla time) 08/19/2006

BECAUSE our society is getting increasingly pluralistic, it's good that we all learn how to keep a sense of unity and solidarity among ourselves as we deal with one another in all our diversity.

This necessity is a natural consequence of our human condition. It is due to our being at once both body and soul, spiritual and material, individual persons and social beings, living both in local and global, temporal and eternal, natural and supernatural orders.

But it's also a condition that we need to work on, to foster and even defend if need be. It doesn't come about automatically. We need to realize keenly and constantly that it's a duty incumbent on everyone to fulfill. Neglect in this duty can only spell disaster for all of us sooner or later.

For this purpose, we need to learn very well the art of dialogue and effective communication among ourselves in the different levels of our lives -- from the individual to the social and cultural, to the universal.

This dialogue has to be done always in the context of an abiding awareness of the requirements of our unity and our legitimate plurality and diversity among ourselves.
This can be achieved if we make an effort to know more deeply what makes us one. This is basically a matter of educating everyone in a sustained way about the common good, or what is truly good for all of us.

This way, we can have an idea of what are the permanent elements of this common good that should bind all of us, irrespective of race, culture, creed, gender, etc., as well as of the changeable elements that give rise to our legitimate differences.
These permanent elements can be the fact we are all creatures and children of God, we are all persons and not things deserving of unconditional love whatever may be our actuations and station in life.

These permanent elements can be that we have a universal moral law and set of basic human rights and duties to rule us, that we live in the same world, and that despite our differences we are actually responsible for one another.

With respect to the changeable elements, we would know which are legitimate and which are not, precisely when our knowledge of the common good goes all the way to the ultimate causes and goals of our life.

For this purpose, we need to go beyond our individualistic tendencies and parochial mentality, cultivating attitudes and habits that enable us to be flexible and to acquire a more universal outlook even if we continue to be defined by local conditions and factors.

Thus, we need to polish and refine our manners, always being open-minded, eager to listen to all, respectful of everyone regardless of social status, discerning of what are essential from what are not, willing to make sacrifices, etc.

We also need to have a certain detachment from our views and opinions, in order to facilitate a better consideration and discussion of issues. When opinions become dogmas, we have a formula for becoming divided.

We need to study the sciences, including philosophy and theology, to broaden our minds and hearts, and to attain a more sublime knowledge of the truth, goodness and beauty.

This will help us to see more things, and to see them more analytically. This will also help us to integrate and synthesize these things, thus leading us to capture the more universal values as we face an ocean of varying options and opinions, each one with its relative value.

Of course, what is even more basic and indispensable is when we pray, when we strive to dialogue always in the presence of God. This will infuse us with an uncanny sense of what will work and what will not work for a fruitful dialogue.

This is the challenge we face now. But I must say it concerns more our leaders, both in the Catholic Church and in society -- our priests and bishops, our parents and teachers, our public officials and politicians.

Fr. Roy Cimagala is chaplain of the Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise in Talamban, Cebu City. E-mail: roycimagala@hotmail.com


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