Especially in our public discourses regarding ticklish issues, we need to see to it that we are most aware of a persona-non-grata that is called pride. We should keep it at bay, exerting appropriate effort to resist its many strong impulses and urges.
Pride always spoils dialogue. It feeds on our self-interest to the point of making us deaf and blind to the points, let alone, the valid points, of the others. It usually sources its strength more from feelings than from reason, more from our own estimation of things than from faith that gives us the full picture of things and leads us to the common good.
Besides, pride usually has bad manners and employs bad language. It always tries to dominate the conversation, using bullying tactics. It is more interested in scoring more points than in earnestly looking for what is true and fair. Its logic clearly follows the path of selfishness. Charity is a complete stranger in pride. Suffering and humiliations play no positive role in pride.
When one, for example, is accused falsely of something, pride would lead him to react very badly, and even violently. He cannot stand being misjudged and mistreated. His pride-stained sense of justice would immediately give a knee-jerk response along the lines of the tooth-for-a-tooth law of the wild.
Pride leads one to see things superficially. There is no depth in its considerations. It gets entangled in the externals and in the appearances. Besides, it usually assumes a rigid attitude, unable to be flexible and to adapt to different circumstances. It makes a person one-track-minded. A proud person is always closed-minded.
Let’s remember what Christ said about new wine in new wineskins. It is a lesson about the need to adapt to different situations without forgetting that we have to put wine into wineskins, that is, without losing focus on what is essential and of absolute value. (cfr Lk 5, 33-39) There are things that need to change and things that have to remain unchanged. These days there is a need to know which is which.
Pride is notorious for its highly divisive effects. When pride dominates the discussion, it is possible that both parties can also be both wrong, missing the real point. They can dirty and destroy each other with no constructive result in the end.
We have to be extremely conscious of the workings of pride in us, because it is so embedded in our systems that we often would not know we are being victimized by it. A saint once said that pride is so strongly incorporated in our life that it would only disappear twenty four hours after our death.
The antidote to pride is, of course, the virtue of humility. In the context of our discussions, humility is lived when one is strongly motivated to find truth under God’s guidance. The search for what is true and fair in our discourses cannot and should not simply be guided by our own research and reasoning.
Allowing God to guide us, always asking for the light of the Holy Spirit, will help us to find truth and fairness in charity. With God, we would know how to react to any situation in the course of our dialogues, whether things go well or not. We would follow closely the example of Christ who is “the way, the truth and the life.”
With Christ, our motives will always be pure, and our ways prudent. With Christ, we would know how to react properly to anything in the course of our exchanges. We would be willing to suffer, and even to die, for the truth. The negative things that we can experience in our dialogues would not dampen our spirit, or the positive things spoil us.
This kind of humility should be earnestly pursued and developed to prevent pride from spoiling our discussions of any issue./WDJ