Fr. Roy Cimagala .
BOTH of them may share a lot of similarities. They can share some common ground. But they too have a lot of differences, and sharp and radical differences at that!
We have to be keenly aware of these similarities and differences as much as possible so that we can be properly guided in our life. We cannot deny that nowadays many people just go by what they see around—the fads and trends—without checking on the basis and orientations of these fads and trends.
The similarities between political correctness, and for that matter, any idea or sense of correctness, on the one hand, and moral correctness on the other, stem from the fact that the basic truths about man cannot be denied.
Everyone wants to know the truth and to pursue what is good and beautiful. That common, universal desire can put political correctness and moral correctness on the same footing. It’s when knowing what is true and what is genuinely good and beautiful when differences start to appear. And the differences can be sharp and radical.
The main source of their sharp differences is none other than that political correctness is based only on some political consensus that perhaps at the start and for a while can coincide with moral correctness, but it can stray from it to the point of contradicting God’s laws. Sad to say, we are seeing this trend in many places.
The idea of political correctness often regards God’s laws as not the primary consideration to make. What is considered of primary importance is what people want. And when they gather enough consensus, it can happen that God’s laws end up marginalized, then ignored, and then contradicted and rejected. Thus, some countries have now legalized abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, etc.
In many countries nowadays, to refer to God’s laws in the discussion of social and political issues, for example, is considered a violation of political correctness. Nowadays in many places, to practice charity and mercy in politics is often deemed anathema.
In the understanding of many people about political correctness, one can be brutal and even violent in defending his position and views. They believe that is the only way truth and justice can be ferreted out from the many options placed on the table.
Part of the mistaken assumption behind this attitude is the belief that there is supposed to be separation between Church and state, and therefore anything that has reference to the Church, to God, to religion and faith, should not be made part of any political and social discussion.
Moral correctness, on the other hand, is based on God’s laws that are interpreted by the Church and by the individual consciences of persons. It covers the entire scope of our moral life.
It is, of course, a very dynamic thing, for it requires nothing less than a vital identification with Christ that can and should take place in all aspects and levels of our life.
It involves a lot of things or requirements—study of the faith, development of one spiritual life, recourse to the spiritual and supernatural means made available by Christ in the Church, development of virtues, especially prudence and justice, etc.
Moral correctness is not rigidity or blind adherence to unbending principles. There definitely is something absolute, essential, immutable and universal in it, but because its fundamental principle is charity, justice and mercy, it would also know how to adapt itself to changing circumstances. It would know how to flow with the times, updating itself constantly as new developments emerge.
We have to strive our best to aim at moral correctness, and not just political, or social, cultural correctness. Better said, our political, social, cultural correctness, etc. should be inspired by moral correctness.
Always giving good example. We need to realize that it is a duty of ours, as Christians, to always give good example to others. Not that we have to flaunt whatever good thing we have or do, for Christ clearly said also that we should not show off our good deed before men, to be seen by them, lest we lose our reward in heaven. (cfr. Mt 6,1)
We have to be aware that we always have to give good example to others for the sole purpose of leading others to God. It is to edify others, to encourage them to be holy and to pursue the path of sanctity in an abiding way.
This duty, therefore, should be carried out deliberately. It should somehow be planned and aimed at. It should not just be something incidental or something optional. Of course, this duty should not be done out of pride or vanity, but out of obedience to the will of God who wants to save all men. (cfr. 1 Tim 2,4)
Thus, Christ warns us never to scandalize others, especially the “little ones,” who can be interpreted not only as children but also as any person whose spiritual life is not yet that well established and strong, and therefore can easily be misled.
“It is inevitable that temptations will come,” Christ said, “but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be thrown into the sea than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” (Lk 17,1-2)
To avoid scandalizing others or causing them to sin, we should focus more on giving good example. That way, we would be most sensitive to our duty not to scandalize others. We would be aware that we are following Christ’s command and will, and not just pursuing our own agenda in life.
Let us hope that we can echo sincerely in our heart what St. Paul once said: “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ.” (1 Cor 11,1) This should be the motive and the attitude we have in desiring to give good example to others. It is to imitate Christ, to have his mind, to identify ourselves with his will and ways.
Everyday, we have to come out with a concrete detail to fulfill this duty of giving good example to others. It may just be as little as smiling, or reacting calmly when some disappointment comes our way, or saying something nice about somebody whose faults and mistakes are obvious, or showing compassion to those in difficulty and offering mercy to those who may have done wrong, etc.
Part of our sense of accountability at the end of the day should be to present to God in our examination of conscience the concrete things we have done to give good example to others.
This will surely help us in keeping ourselves in the loop of God’s providence, and away from the erratic dynamics of our wounded flesh, the sinful world and the wiles of the devil. This will sustain our apostolic concern which is an integral part of Christian life.
This duty of giving good example to others should be systematically taught and spread to people as early as when they are still children. Hopefully in time we can have a culture that organically includes this duty that is carried out with the proper motives.
At the moment, we all know that what we have are cases of self-indulgence, pride, vanity and narcissism, as when people show off their good looks, their accomplishments, the places they have visited, the food they are eating, etc.
Let’s hope that this trend is reversed because it is truly corrupting. It is like a sweet poison.