We have to learn when to get personal and when not to. Since we are all persons with a rational nature, we need to deal with each other properly as our nature and dignity demand.
To “get personal,” as an expression, has many connotations. But I am afraid that it is stuck more with the negative ones than with its original very positive value. Nowadays for example, to get personal mainly means to talk negatively about a person. It is more a hate speech as when people start to use someone’s gender, family or children, or any divisive issue to attack a person. In this case, to get personal is actually to get impersonal.
But originally, to get personal is to treat everyone as a person, and as such is one who is a child of God capable of knowing and loving God and everybody else. As persons we are meant to love one another in spite, and even, because of our differences and conflicts.
That we as persons can have different and even conflicting views, let alone the fact that we, too, can commit mistakes and offenses, does not and should not detract from the fundamental truth that we are all persons who deserve to be loved as God loves us.
As persons, we are meant for knowing each other as best as we could, and for loving each other with a love that knows no measure. We are actually wired and equipped for it. Even if as persons we are individuals, we are not meant to be individualistic. We are meant for others. In our relation with others, we have to give personalized attention as much as possible, not a generic, casual and, much less, stereotyped attention.
Besides, with God’s grace our love for others acquires a supernatural character that would enable us to love the way God loves all of us, that is, a love that goes all the way to offering one’s life for all of us. We would be willing to complicate our life for others.
We should treat each other as persons, and not just as a tool, a stepping stone, an object as in purely a sexual object, a partner. These latter categories can have their legitimate values as long as they do not compromise the essential nature of what and how person is.
In our dealings with one another, we cannot avoid using others for certain purposes. As long as we are not simply users of one another, but first and foremost are lovers of one another, then it is all right to use others. We have to use each other in love always.
This truth about ourselves should be spread more widely, explained and clarified more thoroughly. Concrete examples of how to treat others as persons and when we are not anymore treating each other as persons should be abundantly given so that all of us would know how to behave properly with one another. This is especially so with the young who learn more from concrete examples than from abstract theories and principles.
Of course, in trying to sort out our differences and conflicts, and in discussing issues, we should try not to be too personal as to end up hating a person just because of these differences, even in the cases where the differences are irreconcilable.
In these situations, we should try to be objective, weighing the merits of the arguments alone, and refraining from judging the motives which would already be making rash judgments. That’s simply because we would hardly know the inner world of the person.
And even if we are convinced that the person is wrong and deserves some penalty, we still have to love that person. In fact, we have to show greater love for him if we want to follow the example of Christ who is our ultimate model. That is how we have to behave, how we can be personal and not too personal./WDJ