Last night on Facebook I saw a post by a much loved friend asking that those people who discover that his name or likeness has been used as a 'meme' keep the information to themselves. His request is a reasonable one. After all, there is nothing he can do about it and all the information does is cause him pain.
This followed a lively discussion among his followers as to whether or not his reaction and post were worthy of a devout Catholic. After all, shouldn't he expect to be maligned because of the rather tough line stance he has taken against the support of a particular presidential candidate?
As always, the discussion degenerated to name calling. In particular, one person called another poster an assh*le. I responded, suggesting that the poster could have found a better way to express themselves. They took offense, and went to great lengths to prove to me they did not care what I thought about them and claiming that their use of foul language (while childish and immature, in my opinion) was not immoral. The poster continued to prove how they did not care what I thought by going on and on and on and on about it.
I don't know how it ended. I stopped participating. I thought it better to let the poster win by no longer responding because my experience is one is unable to gauge the mental stability of others that participate on Facebook. I didn't want to end up with some sort of nut case tracking me down and showing up at my house, leaving a dead rabbit in a pot of hot water on my front porch. Or worse.
Their insistence that using foul language is just fine and dandy, however, got me thinking about how one interprets the Catholic understanding of honoring the Dignity of the Human Person.
The Church teaches:
2479 Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one's neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.
While I am hardly the judge of any Catholic in terms of the state of their immortal soul, I believe calling someone an assh*le is a form of detraction. It is hardly a term of endearment, unless one is a member of some sort of hardy brigade of revolutionaries or tough soldiers or guerillas fighting against oppression. I do understand that, under those circumstances, calling each other awful names is a way to keep their spirits up and distract themselves from the horror of combat.
This, however, is supposed to be a group of people who all support the same guy and I find it difficult to believe the gentleman in question appreciates one of his followers behaving like a thug.
This particular teaching of Holy Mother Church is one that is often overlooked. What is amazing to me, however, is the number of people who hold to it when it comes to their own personal dignity without extending that same care outward to others. We have road rage incidents, stalking on social media, bullying and outright physical attacks because someone perceives themselves as being 'disrespected' by a 'hard look'. These same people, willing to physically harm another human being because of a raised eyebrow or a frown thrown in their direction, will scream obscenities at them and justify that behavior with a variation of "he started it", just like your average 4 year old.
Try to use humor or just plain common sense to calm things down and these same people will attack you.
What I know today is my worth does not depend upon some random wacko on Facebook. I took a chance and tried to calm a situation and the person became highly incensed that someone would not think they were wonderful. The fact that they do not think I am wonderful, however, doesn't upset me. It gets me thinking. I allows me to look at the bigger picture and makes me search our Faith Teachings for something that will guide me in future actions, but it does not upset me. I truly do not care. I care only about the opinion of God.
I took a chance, and the result was I got to share a little with the person that was called that name. I got to make a suggestion as to a theologian they might find enlightening. I got to urge them to not judge The Church by the behavior of Her members.
If that is all I got to do? That is more than enough - and worth every slight.
On Saturday, I was received as a life member into the Lay Dominicans.
By Sunday night, I got to act like one.
How blessed am I?