Thursday, September 6, 2012
The Wisdom Of Father Buckley
Everyone has an idea of truth -- from their religions, from their families, from their friends, from their cultures. And if your idea of truth comes from your religion, well that can be pretty powerful. If you are convinced through faith, and also through reason, that your idea of truth is....well....true.... how do you make room for the ideas of others? How do you make room in your life for those with differing views?
When my husband was in college, he had a wonderful priest as both a teacher and mentor. This priest presided at our wedding and has kept in touch with us over the years. And he is now a chaplain at the college from which my younger daughter graduated this past May. His name is Fr. Buckley -- or, Fr. B.
As a student, my husband wrote papers for Fr. B. Now, my husband is a very intelligent person, with a very high IQ, and this gives him some confidence (deservedly so). He told me the following anecdote when we were dating, and we have discussed it at key points in our married life over these past 25 years. He explained to me how he was taken aback one day when Fr. B. returned one of his papers to him -- a paper of which he was quite proud. Not only did he get a "B" on said paper (a grade he was not used to receiving), but Fr. B. had written the following comment next to the disappointing grade: "You should always leave some room, in a discussion, for the other person to be right." Wow.... And I think this is one of the most important lessons my husband learned in college, as he will admit. My dear spouse loves to discuss and debate different issues, and he always has his position backed up by copious facts, making him very convincing. But, this old advice from Fr. B. reminds him to be a bit gentle on the other or others involved in the discussion, listening openly and respectfully to their opinions.
I hope it does not sound like I am disrespectfully telling stories on my spouse. That is not my intention. And I will be the first to admit that I, too, need to very often remember Fr. B.'s advice. I can be quite headstrong and stubborn in a discussion, even if I don't have very many actual facts to back up my position. Sometimes, I just shoot from the hip.
So, in this season of The Election of 2012, perhaps those of us with strong religious convictions -- those of us who firmly believe that our faith instructs us correctly in the area of morality -- can reflect on and apply Fr. B.'s wisdom in our lives and interactions. After all, there are many different kinds of people in this great country. And I believe most of them to be of good-will, wanting what is truly best for all, actually interested in the common good. So, let's be a little humble in our discussions, leaving some room for The Other to be right. Maybe then we can actually "advance the plot." (fabulous expression per Summer of "O.C." fame)