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Politics, detraction, discretion

Fr. Roy Cimagala
Candidly Speaking


Fr. Roy CimagalaPolitics, of course, is indispensable in our life. It’s an integral part of our social nature. It aims to build, develop and keep us as a nation, as a people who, in spite of our differences, share the same identity and the same goals.

It is meant to work for our common good that covers endless aspects and levels—local, national, international, economic, social, cultural, peace and order, etc.
Though it is directly concerned with our temporal common good, it should be respectful of the freedom of religion and consciences, and should do all to foster rather than hinder such freedom that works directly toward our eternal common good.

To be effective, it should be governed by a clearly defined rule of law that in turn should be based on God’s eternal law and the objective natural law, both of which give us the universal moral law.

Politics should be governed by competent and honest officials. It should inspire everyone to participate in the country’s political life in the capacities and possibilities that everyone has. The leaders should inspire the followers to cooperate in the common endeavor of working for the common good.

To be avoided is, among many other things, excessive politicking and partisanship that often are due to pride, vanity, greed and self-interest. This excessive politicking and partisanship would compromise the common good and would be highly divisive, plunging the people into bitter acrimony among themselves.
This is where politicians and the rest of the people should know what to do to be responsible. We all have to know how to dialogue, consult and discuss issues in a constructive way with the view of achieving our common good.

We have to be respectful of one another in spite of our differences and even of our mistakes and failures. We should always be helpful of one another, constructive in our ways, etc. We have to understand that leadership and effectiveness in politics is mainly a matter of service, unstintingly rendered, and not of ambition, greed, avarice, lust for power, etc.

It goes without saying that everyone should have a good grasp of the moral law which our legal, judicial, police systems and institutions, etc. should uphold and defend.

And a basic moral principle is that the end does not justify the means. Both end and means should be good. If the intention is good, but the means used to pursue that intention is bad, then the whole political exercise as a human act is bad, is immoral.

With respect to ferreting certain truths and facts or expressing views and opinions in pursuit of our political exercises, one has to be most careful to observe decorum and charity. This is especially so if this activity is done in the public arena, involving the media, etc.

We have to be careful with what is called detraction, which is the sin of revealing the hidden faults of a person to others who have no right or reason to know them. If these hidden faults are mainly personal and private and have hardly any bearing on the public discussion of issues, then they should be left alone.
This is simply because if we are to reveal each other’s hidden faults, then we will get involved in an endless and useless exercise, since all of us have faults, mistakes and sins. All the skeletons would be brought out to the open.

We have to be extremely judicious and discreet in our assertions and views so we can truly focus on what is essential in our effort to achieve our common good.
This can get worse when those assertions and accusations are simply based on hearsay or rumors and gossips, if not on lies. That would make those assertions not simply as detractions but rather as calumnies that are a graver sin.

And things can still get worse, since one detraction or calumny can also generate another detraction or calumny until a vicious cycle of what is called the law of Talion—eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth law—is created.

Let’s recall the pertinent warning given in the Letter of St. James: “The tongue is a little member and boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell.” (James 3,5-6)

We need to instill our politics with charity that will always be respectful of morality.

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