"There are two words, at the beginning of the questions, which struck me, and they are words that one lives in everyday life, both in society and in the family. The words are “tension” and “conflict”. Magat Diop spoke of “tension” in family relationships, and Gregorius Hanzel talked about “conflicts”. Conflict. Let us think, what would a society, a family, a group of friends be like without tension and conflict? Do you know what it would be? A cemetery. Because only in dead things are there no tensions and no conflicts. When there is life, there is tension and there is conflict."
"To clarify this better: first, do not be afraid of tensions, because they make us grow; second, resolve tensions through dialogue, because dialogue unites, whether in the family or in a group of friends, and the path will be found to go on together, without losing one’s own identity..."
("Pope Francis' Dialogue and Address With Eucharistic Youth Movement")
I love this passage! In my home, we talk about the hard things. We disagree, and occasionally raise our voices. We are trying, day by day, to keep the dialogue going. We are also trying, dialogue by dialogue, to learn how to be more empathetic and kind.
I have six children. One of my children has five children of his own. For now, four of my six children are living under my roof, including the son with five children and a wife. Sometimes, conflicts arise. At that time, dialogue is vital. Sweeping things under the rug only leads to lumpy rugs and rocky relationships.
I love the idea that dialogue can unite us while letting us keep our own identity.
My children are very diverse. Steve and I have taught them to think for themselves and to question everything.
Sometimes they questioned us. Sometimes they questioned their teachers. Sometimes they questioned the scriptures.
Sometimes I get defensive when they question me or the scriptures. Father Peter, my priest, has been such a great example of being unflappable about such things. He likes that people bring him their questioning thoughts; he says that he is glad that they are thinking. He, quoting another member of St. Mary's, says that the questions are more important than the answers.
I just finished a book by Rob Bell entitled, What We Talk About When We Talk About God. One quote that stuck with me is that “Take faith, for example. For many people in our world, the opposite of faith is doubt. The goal, then, within this understanding, is to eliminate doubt. But faith and doubt aren't opposites. Doubt is often a sign that your faith has a pulse, that it's alive and well and exploring and searching. Faith and doubt aren't opposites, they are, it turns out, excellent dance partners.”
It's true. Doubt makes you take your truths out and re-examine them from time to time. It makes you think about them. Faith should be alive, evolving, changing - adding and keeping what works and has proven good and discarding what doesn't and hasn't.
And yes, often we will hold contradictory beliefs at exactly the same time, because we are "large; [we] contain multitudes."
It is interesting to read books where the good guy only does and says good things and is never "bad". The bad guy, likewise, is BAD, and never good. The problem with that is that it doesn't give a realistic view of people. People are a mixture of bad and good. No one is entirely good, just as no one is entirely bad. We will hold conflicting ideologies in our head - it is just a given.
And as family, friends, and society, we will disagree with choices that our loved ones and our less-than-loved ones make. If we care about the relationship, we will have the dialogue.
So let's keep on talking, debating, disagreeing, and respecting each other in spite of and because we are different, and varied, and unique, and thinking.
Thank God that we are not all the same, seeing the world the exact same way, thinking and believing the same exact way. Thank God for new ways to look at things. It is what makes the world a bright and shiny place to live.