Intellectual Pride

4 September 2008 Thursday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 3, 18-23 Intellectual Pride

We have said in yesterday’s homily that Paul believes that authentic faith is expressed in our relationship with each other in community. For Paul, that community is the Church, the Temple of God. If community is about fostering unity, then dissent and divisiveness will ruin it. What characterizes a community is the members’ love for each other.

The community at Corinth glorified the intellectual. To them, the measure of greatness was knowledge. They were proud of what they knew, so they easily judged a person by rhetorical technique, delivery, audience impact, but did not focus on the content of the speech. They easily criticized and, like ferocious predators, they were always on the look out for another person’s mistake.

We can take the cue from here. We are an intellectual community --- we are university personnel. Many of us are educated. In fact, our training background is impressive. We take pride in the very fact that as UP people, we are scholars. We let people know that we are intelligent: matatalino (intelligent), matatapang (courageous), walang kinatatakutan (unafraid) are our battle-cries when we compete with other schools.

What makes this pride divisive of community life? First, it is naturally argumentative. Let us put it this way: we cannot take it when there are opinions that contradict us. We will prove that we are right, no matter what. We will use philosophical arguments, even twisting some of it out of context. We must always talk and criticize, but never to sit down side by side with someone other than those who agree with us. We are not humble enough to learn.

Second, intellectual pride naturally segregates us from others. It looks down on the uneducated, or who has a lower educational attainment as us. If the person graduated in a school lower in standards than UP, we would not lend our ears to them. In our advocacies, our stance when we help the powerless is this: we are their saviors! All who do not agree with us are always wrong. We judge people by the prefixes or suffixes of their names: Dr, Eng, Arch, Mayor, Fr., or SJ, DD, RN. And our heart yearns to be with them, we think that we belong there. There is a certain status that makes us feel greater when we are with these friends.

Thus, it prevents us from real listening. We will not be able to listen to other people’s opinions. We will find it hard to accept that we do not monopolize the truth. Moreover, we will not be able to listen to other people’s hearts: we have ready answers to their questions. We will find it hard to accept that some of life’s questions do not have answers. And the more challenging is the acceptance that we don’t know. But even Socrates will affirm that to know that we do not know is the first step in wisdom. Furthermore, we will not be able to listen to God’s voice in our hearts. We have been too accustomed to noise and talking, that to simply quiet down and listen to the voice of God becomes a great challenge. God cannot compete with our shouting. Simple: How many times have we intellectualized our love life or our vocations? But moved by our insistent, restless and nagging hearts, we resolve to pursue them. Only to realize it is too late.

Sometimes the heart, as they say, have reasons we cannot seem to understand. Nevertheless, it is reasonable.

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