Who of us has not felt the sting of hurt? I imagine the question is rhetorical, because the only person who cannot be hurt, is someone who has given up all personal rights. I am not that person.
We humans, have become very mean. I think meaner than I remember as a kid. We yell a lot. We pontificate a lot. We let others know how we feel about things, invited or uninvited. Sometimes we preface a story with our opinions and verdicts, to ensure that the person in front of us knows what verdict he is supposed to reach, “Let me tell you how ridiculous this person is. Today, …” or, “I can’t believe how corrupt these people are now. Let me tell you what happened!” or, “Don’t you think it’s messed up that…” We have decided our stance on things and so disallow room for the truth, or even a challenge to our perceptions.
In our effort to want our “own truth” (as is so popularly paraded today), we have forgotten real truth. The consequence is that we get hurt. We feel pain. Because when two “personal truths” collide, if they are the same “truth”, people are happy (they form clubs). If they are conflicting “truths”, they result in discord. I think we have, as a society, decided that ‘opinion’ and ‘truth’ are synonymous. This is a tragedy.
So, we say things. We tell one another that we care about how each feels, but oftentimes either we do not really care, or we care insofar as that my opinion prevails, or insofar that it is an issue in which I have decided compromise is possible. Or insofar that it is not me who is deemed to be in error. For example, I can grant that someone could have misunderstood me, so long as that person realises that I was actually right. It is difficult to accept that there was no misunderstanding and I was simply in error. I can grant a person to continue to be my friend, as long as it is asserted and maintained that that friend knows that he or she is mistaken on something. Sometimes someone is able to identify that he possibly fell short of perfection on something, but will then proceed to find reasons why he was totally justified in that falling short, “Sure, I might have gone overboard, but given that I was put in this situation, I really think that I was reasonable…”
So we live in a false unity. A unity that hinges on the human ability to pretend that there is agreement and pretend that there is unanimity, when in fact, there is not.
This is abundantly clear right now on national and international levels. Without politicising, it is sufficient to say that no country seems to be in real and total agreement about any policy, war, or mandate. When we discuss those things, people tend to become very upset. People start to apply labels on one another. Liberal. Conservative. Progressive. Democratic. Tyrant. Fascist. Charismatic. Then we rally under which one we agree with and fight for our label to win. I will not go there.
This is also true on a personal level. You may have a friend who is engaging in destructive behaviour. The friend tells you, ‘You’re my friend, you can be honest with me.” Yet, if you are honest and say, “I’m worried about you, I’m worried that this thing that is happening will…[insert worry here]”, the person doesn’t show they were as receptive as she claimed. Sometimes it’s not a potential worry, it’s something already happening. Yet, the same who said he values honesty, does not value honesty. Your honesty has shaken the security of being in the same club, because now there appears to be disagreement. Now, two who might have enjoyed bonds of friendship (or more), are now uncomfortable around one another, because the discord has become apparent. There is no longer a guise of unanimity because ‘truths’ collided.
The end result of such things, is usually pain. In the good situations like these, the two people come closer together. They identify the truths together. Those situations are less common now, but still exist. In the bad ones, it results in distance and pain. It results in being physically present together, but unreal to one another. It results in forced superficiality. It results in feeling restrained in conversation and companionship, choosing to do only those things together that are within the new bounds of unity, so as not to touch on those sticky points where we now find ourselves in discord. This hurts. In plain English, this translates to: I will treat someone differently because we disagreed. Or, I will behave differently around people with whom I have disagreed. Our disagreement hurt me, and so I will be different toward that person. Take that principle and escalate it up the ladder, and you start with personal pain and division, then familial, then communal, then national, then international. And yes, we have that much discord in the world.
All of this may seem so secular so far, and it is because, we have become so secular. If the bond of our relationship is absolute Truth, aka, GOD , then we would already have the boundaries of unity already set: righteousness. We would already agree with one another truly , rather than superficially. We would be able to hold one another to the standard of truth, while bearing one another with love when any of us and all of us fall short of that absolute perfection, because the Truth demands that very love of us to begin with! The common Truth would dictate all of our rights and wrongs, rather than ‘personal truth’.
Even in writing this, I would not be overcome by surprise if someone immediately decided to find either what is wrong with this, or a motive for this, or a reason for feeling the need to write about this. Some will love this, others might find it weird, others might be inquisitive, and once again, we’ll fit into our categories. But I’m not asking anyone to go out calling out every truth we see. I’m asking for each person to try and know the Truth, first of all. Second, is to live it . In this blog, I think I mean to ask to live it in a very specific way:
Do not treat people differently because of your disagreement with them. I am not saying you have to be friends with everyone. I am not saying that you have to pretend that the person is right. The only time where an action can be taken, is if there is an absolute truth on the table. If someone says, ‘Hey, let’s commit adultery!” I am not suggesting that you should say, “We differ on these truths, I prefer not to commit adultery but maybe we can chill.” There will be obvious changes in interactions with these things. What I do mean, is that if someone has a different opinion from you, and it is not an absolute truth, do not punish them for their disagreement with you. Do not punish them if one of you thinks the other mistaken in something. Pursue truth in love. If someone has spoken an absolute Truth against your subjective one, listen to that person, do not seek to attack that person or cut him off!
Here’s where I’ll turn it religious. Our Lord Incarnate didn’t just know the Truth, He is the Truth. In spite of being personally wounded by absolutely every single person in existence, He did not treat them unequally. He did not deal with those caught in fornication with indignation, even though He said that it’s one of the most grave mistakes that can be made. He did not cut off Peter after he messed up monumentally, many times. He did not give Thomas less apostolic gifts or dignity because of his doubt. He did nothing during his murder against his murderers, but in fact, prayed for and forgave them. He was meek. He allowed people to trample all over Him.
Are you defensive to hearing Truth? If you are, it means that you on some level in spite of what you may think, believe you are an absolute. Are you open to being mistaken? Are you kind to those who you believe are mistaken? Are you kind to those who you know are mistaken? Do you actually stop and ask yourself if you are mistaken? Have you cast off people near to you who have made mistakes either against your or against someone else? If the answer is yes to any of these, then you are hurting someone.
Let us be united in Truth, so that we can love like the Truth, and in so doing, the world can be saved, rather than those “…who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10)