In yesterday’s Union Tribune, I ran across an article by Steven P. Dinkin, who is president of the National Conflict Resolution Center in San Diego. While the focus of the article centered around the topic of vaccine mandates, the overarching message was A Path Forward. In addition to the vaccine mandates, Dinkin identified other issues facing society today that seem to have no hint of compromise, including abortion, border security, and gun safety. So many disagreements have become a “Clash of the Absolutes” where proponents on both sides of the issue seem to have their heels dug in, unwilling to consider the opposing view, with no hopes of finding middle ground. This is concerning on many levels, because without compromise, we as a community and as a country become further divided. Anger, blame, and name-calling set in, and the chasm continues to grow.
One possible path forward for parents who oppose the vaccine mandate for school children is presented here. This statement has been prepared, in consultation with Bishop McElroy, by John Galvan, Director for the Office for Schools, and Kevin Eckery, Diocese of San Diego Director of Communications.
Today is the Feast of All Saints, a day when we recognize and take comfort in knowing that we are not alone in facing our struggles on Earth. In addition to God and the Holy Family, we are watched over by a “Communion of Saints” – those holy men and women who have gone before us, each of whom had struggles of his/her own, but who overcame hardship on a path to holiness. They were ordinary men and women, just like each of us, yet they were able to look beyond the difficulties they faced, and they kept their eyes focused on trying to live in the image and likeness of God – to be kind, patient, forgiving, and selfless.
Our Church and our nation have faced innumerable obstacles in the past. Think back to the days of the Early Church, when St. Peter and St. Paul disagreed about whether or not Gentiles could become Christians. Many discussions and no doubt heated arguments eventually resulted in the doctrine that we take for granted today, including teachings on the Trinity and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Certainly, the early Doctors of the Church were caught up in a “Clash of the Absolutes,” yet they persevered until common ground was met. The decision for our nation to go to war against Britain for Independence was highly contested between the Loyalists and the Patriots; and the formation of a new government saw another “Clash of the Absolutes” between Hamilton and Jefferson. Ultimately, compromise was reached and our nation moved forward.
Education is a key component in A Path Forward. It is necessary for our students to learn about all sides of an argument or issue and try to appreciate and respect an opposing view. There is no value in demonizing or ridiculing people who disagree with us, yet that seems to be the primary tactic today. There should always be an effort to try to compromise, if possible, but if not, we must teach our children to be civil. To do that, we only need to look to the Communion of Saints, and emulate their kind, patient, forgiving, and selfless qualities. The alternative is not a desirable one.