Pope says ‘silence’ is the best response to ‘people lacking good will’

…In his homily, Pope Francis said the reading should help Christians “reflect on how to act in daily life when there are misunderstandings,” but also to understand “how the father of lies, the accuser, the devil acts to destroy the unity of a family, of a people”.

According to a Vatican News report on the homily, Pope Francis said that it was with his silence that Jesus defeated the “wild dogs”, the devil, who “had sown lies in the hearts”. (Source)

Edit 9/16/18: FWIW, while I find it interesting that the Pope has said the devil uses accusations as a weapon against good people and while I find this idea worth considering, I doubt its application in today’s context is entirely pristine. That said, false accusations are very common, very destructive, and very much worth analyzing before reacting emotionally to them.

As for using “silence” to deal with false accusations or “people lacking good will,” this fails as do so many general religious rules. Christianity in particular suffers from too many decent but overly simplified heuristics not being subject enough to human valuation and wisdom.

Silence is good when dealing with narcissists and others in some situations, but not in all situations. When we decide on our own—or even with the help of the Pope—that someone is “lacking good will” and deserves the silent treatment, we run the risk of cowering behind false “virtue,” to say nothing of the possibility that we may also be engaging in a false accusation ourselves even if that accusation is kept silent.

Buddhism is not immune to the same problem. For example, Buddhists are frequently counseled to be careful about what they say but rarely counseled to be careful about what they hear or how they hear in general. Many bad ideas can form in the mind through simply mishearing or misunderstanding what someone has said.

Traditional religions, as with most belief systems, contain too many simple ideas that absolutely must be analyzed in each context before they can be wisely applied. ABN

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