Today I was asked about Catholic teaching on a number of touchy topics; subjects for which the Church’s teaching is considered “backwards”, ignorant, out-of-touch, by people for whom the man in the collar “would have those answers”. When I had given a clear explanation and kept to a loving side of the discussion, I was called a fascist for supporting the Church and it’s teaching.
I recognise that the person hurling this insult likely did not understand the meaning of what was being thrown at me. And more than probably did not know or understand any of the teachings I was speaking of. Being called names is not new to me, and since the scandals that have plagued the Church in recent years, the name calling then was worse.
But in all of this I recognise that we, at some point, have moments when it is easier to put up fronts or retreat to the “laager” rather than make some effort to calmly seek to understand the “other” and come to a better, more rational way of expressing our disagreement. We may not express ourselves on the level that this gentleman did to me. But we may demonstrate our internal thoughts or feelings in our composer or facial expressions.
We all need to be willing to work towards being the person with the broader shoulders. I walked away hurt and angry. I thought I would not be willing to enter into a conversation like that again. But that won’t help in the long run. And after spending time reflecting on what I experienced, I knew I would have to face the same again one day. And would just have to find kinder means and thicker skin on behalf of the truth. Better to show kindness in the face of insults and win an argument in ways that are unexpected. Name-calling demonstrates a lack of knowledge and inability to properly illustrate an argument.
We should, we must, be better than that. Despite all that is thrown at us we can be the people that, as St Josemaria Escriva said, “light up the pathways of the earth with faith and love”.