Friday, February 19, 2016

The ‘no-perfect’ excuse

ALL of a sudden, we are nowadays hearing a lot of people invoking the “no-perfect” alibi to rationalize their views. There’s no perfect father, no perfect mother, no perfect child, no perfect family, no perfect etcetera.

And now that we are getting into the usually hot political season, we are also hearing such excuses as no perfect politician, no perfect candidate. And from there, people pontificate or dogmatize their political preferences and opinions.

While that excuse has a certain validity, we have to remember that it comes with a lot of other things that need also to be considered seriously, like instructions, contraindications, alternative options, and many other opinions.

While it’s true that we have to make do with whatever we have or whatever is available, that is, a wonderful call for patience and understanding, it does not mean that we won’t make the effort to look for better options or some improvement of the situation.

In other words, that excuse should not be made to stop in itself, making one fully contented with a certain status quo. It has to contend with what are the views of others, let alone, the standard and criteria of what is considered as the ideal. We need to keep on trying to polish our understanding of things and improve on our performance.

What can worsen this “no-perfect” excuse is when people use it to dogmatize their positions and demonize those of the others who disagree with them. Sad to say, this is what is happening these days in the political scene.

We hear reasoning like “better a killer than a criminal,” “better a curser than a robber,” etc. At the very least, these reasoning make the gravity of the different evils subject only to the opinions and consensus of people, a product of the I’m-ok-you’re-ok mentality. There’s no more objective basis.

Murder can have equal weight as stealing, or can even be considered as the lesser evil, when in fact the former does not admit of parvity of matter, (meaning it is always grave), while the latter does, (meaning it may or may not be grave).

I know that in heated political discussions where passions run high and a lot of bashings and mudslinging are done, considerations like this get lost. But it’s important that we give due attention to these important points, otherwise we will be setting ourselves for a graver problem and crisis later on.

Knowing how political systems work, what is usually done at the top, whether right or wrong, moral or immoral, somehow filters down to the lower rungs until it becomes part of the system. If the leader is honest, most likely, the followers will also be honest. If the leader is a murderer and flaunts it, most likely the followers will also be the same.

Thus, we have to consider whether murders and illegal executions of perceived wrongdoers that become part of our system are a lesser evil compared to some systematized corruption. Of course, we have bad options to choose from, but just the same we have to be careful that we don’t jump from the frying pan into the fire.

This is where we have to use the “no-perfect” excuse prudently. We cannot help but to make do with some forms of evil. But we have to make sure which evil is lesser and more tolerable. And in an unavoidable evil, we also have to make sure that our cooperation in it would at least be passive, not active, and with firm intention to correct it.

We have to distinguish between what is already a formal and active cooperation of an evil, which means that one knowingly and freely participates in the evil, and what is mere material and passive toleration of evil, since he cannot avoid it, at least, for the moment.

Formal cooperation is always sinful and should be avoided. Material cooperation may be tolerated, but under certain conditions and precautions. Among these conditions are:

(1)  The cooperating act must be, in itself, good or at least indifferent morally. (2) The intention of the one cooperating should be good. (3) There must be a just cause. (4) And the good effect desired in that cooperation
should not be the consequence of the bad effect.

To be realistic with the way our political life is, we need to be clear and firm with these moral principles. For this, we need to intensify our prayers, have recourse to the sacraments, deepen our doctrinal formation and develop virtues.

We should always try, in whatever way we can, to transform
evil into good.

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