Self-respect vs. letting it go

Started by Aethel, November 25, 2022, 08:38:18 PM

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Aethel

I wanted to know what the Catholic perspective is on this.

Say you know a guy, and he's a jerk. Goes out of your way to sabotage your reputation, insult you, starts fights, etc. Maybe you're in a relationship and he sleeps with your girl. Maybe he gets you fired.

What is the appropriate Catholic response - is it to bear your cross appropriately and let it go to mitigate a maximum of suffering, or to stand up for yourself from your own dignity?

On the one hand, Catholic theology seems to teach that such destructive behaviors / competitiveness / lack of harmony is a product of the Fallen World, and to engage in it means to engage in fallen nature behaviors. In this way I guess you could say this is what Christ meant by "turning the other cheek"

On the other hand, God demands Justice. An eye for an eye. When there's a hornet, sometimes you gotta swat it - it's in the hornet's nature to sting. Not to mention God's glorious wrath in the Old Testament. Moreover, I don't think Christ wants us to be a doormat.

So what's the traditional Catholic response here? I can tell you over the course of my life I've definitely turned the other cheek quite a bit with a lot of people, and all that seems to happen is that they get glory and prestige while I suffer on my own. However, often when I stand up for myself, it often creates a catch-22 cycle of MAD that ends with both people just hurt, which - perhaps as a major character flaw of mine, I'm way too empathetic to people (as I would like people to be empathetic to me) - only makes me feel like garbage because at the end of the day suffering seems to be an inherent quality of life and I know in the macrocosmic scheme of things our individual drama mean very little, God or not.
Cogito, ergo sum

Vox Clara

I recommend this article, St. Francis de Sales' advice for defending your reputation, which I posted here last January. Some discussion followed which you might also find helpful.

Cosmas

#2
I think the following Catholic principles apply:

1.  You keep forgiving, meaning holding no resentment or grudge.

2.  You don't forget in general what they did, but you forget all the nitty gritty details lest it makes you resentful.  You remember generally what they did to know how much distance to put between them and you, and what safeguards to take.

3.  You first try fraternal correction: a) Christ said to go "have it out" with your brother in a dispute, whether it's more you needing to make amends, or to get them to make amends b) if they won't listen bring in another person to try and reason with them, c) if it's still a no go, take it to the elders who ever they might be in the situation, d) if it's still not resolved shake the dust from your sandals and avoid them completely unless you work or live in the same house keep your distance.

4.  But keep turning the other cheek, which doesn't mean keep letting them abuse you, but you maintain your humility and meekness rather than return tit for tat when they are able to get in jabs.

5.  If they continue to harass, slander, or otherwise be a menace, per Deuteronomy (which Christ did not nullify), you exact a tooth for a tooth, that is restore the injustice, but by licit means.   Paraphrasing from memory "When you are falsely accused in public, bring your accuser before the judges, and ask them to do to the false accuser by legal means what they are trying to do to you be illegal means."  (ex: Johnny Depp vs The Lying She-Devil).

6. I think the above applies when you determine the injustice is a serious threat either to your health, life, livelihood, vocation, or family life, otherwise generally you'd let God collect the debt owed, and let bygones be bygones.  Some people (some, not all), are "just not worth it."

7. When you do confront your enemy, imitate how Christ nobly confronted the temple priests after they arrested him by being frank and direct, using just a few simple words to ask them to produce evidence/reasons to justify what they're doing.

8. Take comfort in the truth "vengeance is mine saith the Lord."   Pray the imprecatory psalms for God's justice against the enemies in your life, but also for your peace.  Take peace in knowing God is already punishing them.

9. Secular advise:  If the person is very proud and vain, shows no empathy or concern for your rights, gaslights, spin doctors the conflict to make them look innocent and you the aggressor, you're dealing with narcissistic personality traits which are very common today, almost a social epidemic.  a) avoid them if you can, b) otherwise ignore them, c) or give short answers not engaging them back ("yeah," "nah," "not sure," "hard to say," etc. d) or just make small talk about the weather, e) but never engage their argumentation, they're trying to get you to say something perhaps too defensive, which they'll spin (lie) to others as aggression painting you as the "crazy one," so that ultimately you are cast out of the group, whether it's the family, social circle, or even your job.

I work on all these every day, often falling short, dealing with the same dilemma/paradox, dealing with some very dark people in this world. But you sound like someone who has probably been put through some serious hell with people, struggling to know when you can exact justice for yourself, and not merely forgive.   If they are tearing you down, don't treat your enemy as if they're your friend  even if they act like they still are, but confront them fraternally, then ignore, then take licit action when it's seriously affecting your life.  You'd have every right (and responsibility) to exact justice by licit means, if they refuse to stop. 

10.  But priority # 1 is maintaining your peace which comes from praying for your enemy daily by name.

Elizabeth

I think if the jerk sleeps with your girl, you've got two reputations to worry about now.  The guy needs a Corporal Act of Mercy, Instruction of the Ignorant, a good beatdown.  Am I wrong?   

Cosmas

#4
I would first dump the girlfriend and let him have her.  They'll be their own punishment.  Likely end up with an STD, failed marriage, and a life of misery.  The consequences of grave sin being their own punishment.  Then if you have friends with enough fortitude to join you, calmly plan it out beforehand, pay the guy a visit and warn him not to ever screw over another man that way again or you'll be paying him another visit to have another talk. He can infer whatever he wants, but you never threaten violence and leave when he asks. If he acts in even one threatening way such as yelling to "go f yourself" that's aggression that requires a defensive response.  Then teach him a lesson he'll never forget. Give your lawyer a call before you head over to make sure your actions are entirely within the law, and record the whole thing.  And have 911 on speed dial so you're the first to call and explain you responded in self defense.  Personally I would let it go if it was my girlfriend, but I'd consider this approach had she been my fiancĂ© or wife. Considering the cheating to be an affront to the Sacrament of Marriage. 

Miriam_M

Quote from: Vox Clara on November 25, 2022, 09:01:00 PM
I recommend this article, St. Francis de Sales' advice for defending your reputation, which I posted here last January. Some discussion followed which you might also find helpful.

I will read that, given that I could use similar advice.  :)

Julio

To me there is just the process to do it. In terms of ruining the reputation, one has the option to file criminal charges like for oral defamation or libel. In the case of sleeping with ones woman, if married then file a case in court for adultery and that is at least true in the Philippine jurisdiction. Authority after  all is of God.

It is different when the act of disrespect is being done before my face and under my nose like slapping me because that means that man is giving me the right to break his bones. Classic example is the Battle of Lepanto. It is very Catholic.

Polymath

Quote from: Julio on November 27, 2022, 10:24:04 PM
In the case of sleeping with ones woman, if married then file a case in court for adultery and that is at least true in the Philippine jurisdiction.

Wow.

That's no longer true in the United States.  I think that tells you everything you need to know about this country.

Julio

Quote from: Polymath on December 01, 2022, 07:00:56 PM

Wow.

That's no longer true in the United States.  I think that tells you everything you need to know about this country.
I know that it is has been decriminalized in the U.S. and all Western nations I think. But I am so sure about the U.S., but in the Philippines we still have that penal provision. Here, almost all laws however are in favor of women because we also have that "Violence Against Women" law that if a man has another woman and this matter reaches the wife, the penalty is so severe because it is called "emotional abuse" and that is on top of "concubinage" under the Revised Penal Code.

Polymath

Quote from: Julio on December 01, 2022, 07:25:08 PM
Quote from: Polymath on December 01, 2022, 07:00:56 PM

Wow.

That's no longer true in the United States.  I think that tells you everything you need to know about this country.
I know that it is has been decriminalized in the U.S. and all Western nations I think. But I am so sure about the U.S., but in the Philippines we still have that penal provision. Here, almost all laws however are in favor of women because we also have that "Violence Against Women" law that if a man has another woman and this matter reaches the wife, the penalty is so severe because it is called "emotional abuse" and that is on top of "concubinage" under the Revised Penal Code.

Again, wow.  If God hadn't called me to stay in the US, I'd seriously consider moving to the Philippines.

You might like my anti-modern-West poem "The Great Satan" (second one at this link): https://classicalpoets.org/2022/08/27/a-villanelle-for-robert-hoogland-by-joshua-c-frank/

The Great Satan

We've taught the China folk to snack
To sell them our potato chips;
We stabbed their culture in the back
With words of treasures on our lips.
Thus now we teach the world to sin
To sell them poisons for their faith:
More time with trinkets, less with kin,
And no regrets till it's too late.

Colonialism is okay
As long as churches are suppressed.
Exporting devils every day,
That's the mission of the West.
The West once shone atop a hill,
But now it's Satan's global shill.