Thursday, May 9, 2013

Deceiving Ourselves is always Possible

The desk columnist of the Catholic Times says he has always thought of himself as a calm person, not easily agitated by frustrating circumstances, and that he usually doesn't budge from a decision once made. He also considers himself more reflective than emotional, more interested in the thoughts and beliefs of others rather than in their appearance, and not at all interested in frivolous talk, liking to get right to the point in a discussion. And then at the end of this self-assessment, he tells us he has been deceiving himself all these years.

The reason he appears calm, he says, is that he dislikes moving the body about, and is also lazy. The reason he's not easily agitated is because he has slow reflexes and is not practiced in how to show  his emotions.  Because he's not perceptive, he doesn't notice details. He's able to control his anger because he's not strong enough to fight, with fists or with words, so the best thing to do, he discovered, is to remain silent. And the reason he stays with a decision he's made is that he doesn't have the creativity to see another possibility. If being tactless and simple are considered strong points, then at least he can say he has plenty of both.

Because of his torso, he says he has the patience to stay in the same place for some time. When his wife changes her hair style, he says he never notices it. And at a 'gag concert', he says he has difficulty in seeing the humor, the play on words and the wit, admitting to a very dry disposition. He confesses that only discussions with topics that interest him will keep his attention, otherwise he does not participate, and realizes this is a form of selfishness.

With life full of contradictions and conflict, he wonders about the possibility of achieving harmony and unity. He looks within himself and sees a great many contradictions, which he believes causes many to see him differently than he sees himself.

In the pre-modern society, stick-to-itiveness was considered a virtue; in the pluralist society of today, this has changed and the 'live and let live' is in vogue. Since we have difficultly understanding ourselves, he believes it's simply pride to think we can understand the other, which at times can become prejudicial thinking and discrimination.

The Catholic Church has great difficulty with the relativism of post-modernism but there is something positive in this viewpoint, he says. It encourages us to leave our narrow way of looking at life and accept or at least see the possible relevance of other points of view. We should not be too quick to judge another's intentions with our own measuring standards. Even if it's something we do not understand or agree with, it's a way of not closing the  possibility of dialogue, enabling us to relate more easily with others. Some skepticism is understandable but when it becomes cynicism the results can be lethal.