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Principle of NON-Contradiction

刊登日期: 2013.10.13
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父  

 The second topic on Truth is called the “Principle of Non-Contradiction” and it goes like this:
Something cannot BE and NOT BE at the same time from the same point of view. This is simple enough. Therefore truth cannot be true and false (not true) at the same time from the same point of view. Mathematically, 2 is not 3 and vice versa. But, can 2 be 10 at the same time? Sure, if you view it as a binary number. See, 10 is now ONE, ZERO and not TEN anymore. (If you do not understand this, it is okay. Ask a mathematics teacher.)
So, in our life experiences, it is very possible for us to be in a conversation and disagree with each other on the same thought because we are looking at it differently. But the truth remains the truth.
If two people approach an elephant from two d i ff e re n t e n d s , t h e i r experiences will tell them different things. Both would be right, to a degree, but they might think the other is wrong. What they need is to experience the elephant from the same point of view.
Interestingly enough, that is where most arguments begin. Most people do not know that they only differ because of from where they stand.
Take for example the word "tomato". Americans pronounce to (MAY) to and the British would say to (MA) to. Americans pronounce tomato the first way and the British the second. Both speak the same language yet words are pronounced differently. Dealing with regional accents, a conversation can get very interesting. I have a Chinese friend who also went to the University of Nebraska. His parents just recently emigrated to Nebraska to be closer to their son. When I met them the first time I said, “You came from ShunDe(順德)!” He said, “How do you know?” “Because my grandfather came from there and you have the same accent.” We can tell where people came from by how they speak. I am sure you can do the same thing regarding people from Australia or Britain.
If only our misunderstandings in conversations could be so simple! In most cases, we do not pay enough attention to the differences, then jump to conclusions and insist that other party is wrong in what we are talking about. This happens in politics as well as in just plain everyday relationships.
The main problem with situations like these is pride. We are more concerned with being right than of making sure we understand each other. At Pentecost, St. Peter was heard even though people came from different parts of the world. That is the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of Truth! It is in this same Spirit that we need to begin every conversation. If we find ourselves in a disagreement, we need to stop for a moment and pray, asking God that we may be humble enough to seek the truth. Then restart the conversation keeping in mind that all God wants is the truth, His Truth, so that we may grow together through Him, with Him and in Him. That is the mission of Jesus here on earth, that we may live in the harmony, peace and unity of His Truth. In so doing may we give witness to Him.
There is a prayer I begin with at every gathering:
Direct, O Lord, our actions
by Your holy inspiration
and carry them on by your gracious
assistance,
that every word and work of ours
may begin in You
and by You be happily ended.
Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

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