Nobody wins an argument

WAY BACK when I was a child in the 1950s, religious “debates” at our plaza were in vogue – usually between ministers of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) and those of other Christian sects. I still remember that one pitting an INC minister against a layman of the Iglesia Filipino Independiente (IFI) or Aglipayan Church. Their exchanges of views, the audience feared, could end in a fist fight.

To our relief, after an hour, they agreed on only one thing: that their founders – Felix Manalo of the INC and Gregorio Aglipay of IFFI – had done right in abandoning Roman Catholicism.

In a past column on religious diversity, I cited a home debate between  my late father and one of his friends over Jesus Christ.  My dad, a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, disputed his friend’s argument that Jesus, though “the son of God,” was not God.

“That’s like saying that an animal born to a dog is not a dog,” Tatay debunked him.

Nobody gave in to the other, but their friendship remained intact for the rest of their lives.

I have since then followed their example in disagreeing with others without being disagreeable because, to quote the late American inspirational author Dale Carnegie, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

Simply put, what’s right to one person is wrong to another.

But a right person may occasionally yield to the wrong one as a “peace-keeping” measure. I did so when I boarded an airplane and found an obviously older woman seated in my assigned seat. I showed her my boarding pass to prove she was occupying my aisle seat. But when she begged for “understanding” on the pretext of kidney problem that necessitated frequent walks to the CR, I took her seat next to mine.

I was falling in line at the senior citizens’ lane in a pharmacy when a woman walked over and beat me to the cashier, announcing, “I feel bad. I have to take medicine now.”

In both the airplane and pharmacy scenes, I could have asserted my “priority right” at the risk of being adjudged contravida by eyewitnesses.

Eventually I realized I had done right in allowing myself to be “wronged” for their sake and mine, too. A hypertensive like me must keep cool all the time; harboring anger could be fatal.

We all have heard of Rolito Go, who languished in jail for killing another man over a traffic altercation.

As in a game of basketball, the broader game of life is ideally played by obedience to rules and regulations which, unfortunately, are often bent to suit the prevailing norms. In theology, for instance, one sect interprets monotheism as praying to only one God; another group prays to “one in three persons”; and a third group merely “venerates” Mama Mary and Church-canonized saints in answer to charges of idolatry.

A believer believes what he has been made to believe or what his senses tell. There are color-blind drivers who could not distinguish red from green and so are prone to beating the red light unknowingly.

Millions of Germans hailed Adolf Hitler for killing six million Jews as the “right” way to propagate Nazism.

To quote the Dalai Lama, “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.”

Methinks only the “laws of nature” like gravity, heredity and chemistry are right all the time.  We always fall down, never “up”.

We also fall, not rise, in love. ([email protected]/PN)

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