Sunday, September 20, 2009

On the Courage of Conviction and Humility

On the Courage of Conviction and Humility
(posted for

When Kruschev pronounced his famous denunciation of the Stalin era, someone in the crowd at the Congress Hall hollered; "Where were you Comrade Krushchev, when all these people were being slaughtered?"

Kruschev stopped, looked around the hall, and said: "Will the man who said that kindly stand up!!!".

Tension mounted in the hall. No one stood up.

Then Kruschev said: "Well, you have your answer now, whoever you are. I was in exactly the same position then as you are now".

A Catholic politician in the Philippines has actively supported a pending legislation that would require the government to promote contraceptives and heavily subsidize them out of public funds. Now he has suddenly been thrust into the limelight as presidential timber in the coming elections. The Bishops have admonished him to reconsider and renounce his support of anti-life legislation. On the other hand, his pro-choice liberal supporters strongly urge him to ignore the clergy and stand fast to his principle. If he heeds the Bishops, he could lose face among his liberal supporters and be accused of not standing up for his convictions to gain political expediency. Either way, he could lose face. But what does his conscience tell him?

Major decisions always carry serious consequences. In Kruschev’s era, lives may be at stake. In today’s political arena, projection of public reputations leading to outcomes of elections may be at stake. If a public figure exhibits inconsistencies, then his political ambitions may be lost. But “for what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mk 8:36). Would one rather protect his reputation before the public but lose his reputation before God? How should one’s inconsistencies be viewed? Shouldn’t one rather be inconsistent with ones self rather than be inconsistent with the Truth?

That is why the courage of conviction comes with humility. Today’s Gospel (Mk 9:30-37) is a precise lesson in humility. The Apostles were arguing among themselves who was the greatest. They have preached the kingdom of God, performed miraculous cures, and have expelled demons. Yet they still lack the most important quality of all: humility.

One can never have the courage of conviction without humility. External appearances do not have any bearing with true courage and conviction, rather: “the things that come out from within are what defile.” (Mk 7:23). We must face the truth with courage and humility that comes from the inside.

A story is told of Abraham Lincoln who was then accused of being two-faced. Lincoln indicated his very plain, homely face and replied: “If I had another face, do you think I’d wear this one?”


John-D Borra said...

Good point once again, Willy. And it's especially illuminating when framed in the context of last Sunday's mass readings. Perhaps this presidential candidate you speak of, who carries the hopes of many Filipinos on his shoulders, could assume the humility that all truly great men remind themselves of. He certainly needs better advisors on this issue.

John-D Borra said...

Oops, I meant yesterday's readings! Sorry. I've been fielding RH bill questions on my blog and on Facebook intermittently throughout the long weekend. Lost myself in time. :P

WillyJ said...

Thanks John-D.

sunnyday said...

Did that anecdote involving Kruschev really happen? Interesting.

Thanks for the reminder about humility in conviction, Willy :-)

WillyJ said...

The anecdote went the rounds, although its true Kruschev did receive some heckling during his time.

Heads up on HB5043...I just received information that the Committee
on Rules will be meeting today, Tuesday, Sept. 22..Plenary voting is expected to happen tomorrow.