November 19-20, 2016

Friends, 

As I mentioned in my homily last weekend after the election results became known, the country, the Church, and the world seem to have a lot in common when it comes to ideologies. It seems like extremism is rampant in all three. We always talk about the gap between the poor and the rich, we call that middle class. The numbers in each of those categories is debatable. Some see the middle class diminishing and both the poor and the rich categories expanding. Others see it differently. 

More concerning to me is the numbers of people in the Church, the country and around the world who champion extreme views; politically, socially and religiously. We now have those who hold views to the extreme right and those who hold views to the extreme left. It seems that the number of those in the middle (known as moderates) are shrinking very fast. That scares me, because I am a person who believes in conversation, dialogue and compromise. It seems today like the only ones open to that approach are those holding moderate views. 

In today's society when social media has become the main source of conversation, the art of communicating civilly has taken a turn for the worse. Just as parents learn very early that they don't want to cease communication with their children, especially during adolescence because it leads to an impasse, so it is true in the greater society. I believe President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and their cabinet are aware that the last thing they want to do is cut off communication with other world leaders. Just as it can cause long-time rifts within families, so too among nations. 

Those in the Church, the country and the world who hold extremist views are much less apt to value the art of communication. 

Once you believe that your extremist views are the only views and there is no need to revisit your thought process or your decision, you can give yourself permission to cease listening and learning. This can lead, and often does lead to isolation and alienation. We become the only ones with the truth which we then want to enforce throughout the Church, the country and the world. 

Everything today is volatile and vulnerable. Authority no longer is looked upon as absolute anywhere and protests can be organized nationwide and worldwide in a matter of seconds. Extremist views can lead to chaos in the country, the Church and the world. 

I cannot speak for anyone else, but I remember the turbulent days of the 60's that left me hope-filled. For some reason I don't feel the same about this turbulence. However, I am trying to Enjoy Life! 

Fr Coyne

 

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