The Rule, Article 4

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


It is so easy to decide that everyone over fifty who forgets something is falling headlong into some variety of dementia. Now many have, some are, and several will be. But we must be careful of always generalizing others' situations. Mostly, we see ourselves and our situations as explainable and we see others as clinically significant.

Roughly, that translates into I'm OK, and You're not OK.

I'm reminded of all our politicians. We quickly justify the behaviors of all of those who happen to share the same opinion as we have on a specific issue. And just as quickly damn all those who have opinions we might not share.

For example, I tend to criticize everything that a politician says who is pro-abortion. I also tend to accept everything that a politician says who is pro-life. It has been brought to my attention that I might be wiser to read and study what each politician says about a specific issue. If a politician in my state is pro-abort, I will, vote against him (or her) in a general election for that very issue, but I might approve of him voting for a particular tax cut proposal.

I sometimes have chosen to contact such politicians and tell them how I approve of one of their positions but that my support does not go as far as wanting them to stay in office.

This is an effort to construct positions that are situationally specific. I could even imagine the existence of a President who was a phenomenal public speaker and apparently good father. Those are important characteristics for me. But I could imagine myself frightened about the continued existence of our country as a result of his actions.

An over-generalization would be to dislike everything he said or did or to like everything he said or did based on speaking skills or parenting style.

Prudence would be to respect the office the individual held and to develop opinions about the positions the official presented. And get him out of office as soon as possible.

As a Franciscan, I want to pray for my president or congressman. I want to love him with the love of God, but I don't want to agree with everything he does just because he is president.

Is there some similarity here when considering one's priest? How about husband? Supervisor at work? Bishop?

I'm not always certain how to do this without slipping into calumny or detraction. How do you do it?

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