The hysterical shouting matches at town hall meetings to discuss health care in the United States have demonstrated once again that there is no shortage of people who honestly believe they alone have access to the truth and all others have gone astray. To the contrary, the Gospel suggests that we might find wisdom in listening to the perspective of others, even when they disagree with us. Truth is usually discovered in community.
We live in communities at various levels – family, church, society. Our everyday lives are inevitably intertwined. Yet few of us appreciate being told what to do by members of our family, church authorities, or civil statutes. "Mind your own business," is a standard rejoinder that crosses the mind when we are corrected. The individual ego typically has a strong sense of self-determination with little tolerance for being chided.
Abiding within the wisdom of the community does not mean mindless conformity. Rather, a healthy community is the wise product of people striving together, the strength of many helping each other, the real freedom of people able to listen to each other. Listening to another is not weakness, but a sign of humility and intelligence. In dialogue with other members of the community we have a better chance of discovering the truth.
Fr. Joe Mitchell, CP is the director of the Passionist Earth & Spirit Center in Louisville, KY.
See his website: www.earthandspiritcenter.org