Arguments and Disagreements

It seems that most people have an opinion on what I would say has been the most sensational Royal interview of my lifetime, and I still remember Diana’s ‘Queen of Hearts’ interview! The feud dividing the families makes EastEnders look tame but I think the Royal situation shines a light on Jesus command to us to love our enemies (Mt 5:44). I believe this is one of the most difficult parts of our faith to live. Our often-weak human nature can seek to blame and exact revenge while we know we are called to live by a higher standard. Each of us has arguments and disagreements and I thought I would share some lessons I have learned from mine that might help you.

The Blame Game: When we are hurt by someone or accused of something it is very easy to begin the blame game. It is exactly what Adam and Eve did in the garden of Eden (Gn 3:12-13) when God saw that they had sinned against Him. They both said ‘don’t blame me’: Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent, and we have been doing it ever since.

Playing the Victim: When we blame, we are playing the victim, and I know this because I have been very good at playing that role. When we blame others, we are looking at what we perceive to be their faults but we are not looking at our own. This means we are not taking responsibility for our words or actions that have contributed to the argument.

It Takes Two to Tango:  In most (not all) arguments both sides share some blame, it might be 50/50 or 70/30 or even 5/95 but we always have some part in it and if we blame and accuse another we are blinding ourselves to our own wrong doing. When we do this we can respond in a very destructive way. Many families are riddled with members who no longer speak to one another. Once communication breaks down it can be very hard to restore it.

We Are Not God: If we truly love our enemies, we do not want to seek revenge or inflict pain or hurt on them. If we make accusations against others publicly we are not seeking to love them but wanting others to take our side. It is so easy to do, especially when we feel we have been wronged or that we are right. At best, this behaviour is seeking reassurance for our fragile egos but at worst we are seeking to harm the other. We are making ourselves a judge over them, and as St Paul says (Rm 14:10) no one but God can judge another human being.

Humility Helps: If we truly seek unity and forgiveness, we will apologise to the other party for our wrongdoing. This is an act of humility. We can do it in the self-interested way of expecting them to reciprocate but if we are genuine we will apologise and expect nothing in return, hoping that our words will bring peace to the other whom we have wronged or who feels wronged by us.

Practice makes Perfect: I feel I have been around the block enough to have played the victim and the blame game many times. I have sometimes been the 80 in the 80/20 situations and needed to apologise and sometimes I have been the 5 in the 95/5 situations but still needed to apologise for my wrongdoing because what I want is to live in honesty and peace. Self-reflection and humility are, in my experience, not easy qualities to live and I am still not great at them but I have found they make for a far better way of living than the alternative.

Live By Example: As we look on hungrily at the Royal fracas, feeding off of the intrigue and accusation, we may do well as Christians to remember the words of our Lord, that we are called to love our enemies (Lk 6:35). As we try in our human way to do that by seeking the Grace of humility and self-reflection that may not come easily to us, we can remember that at all times we are called to live by example: that is the difference we are going to make in the world.

Fr Tom

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