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An old-school approach to a modern challenge

An old-school approach to a modern challenge

Some wise words from St. Ignatius on 'dealing with others' might be just the advice we need in today's polarized society

In a letter to fellow Jesuits before the Council of Trent written all the way back in 1546, St. Ignatius offered some sage advice on "dealing with others"—particularly those who hold different opinions. Some of these tips from Ignatius still hold true, and following them could do much to improve our present-day conversations:

• Be slow to speak. Be considerate and kind, especially when it comes to deciding on matters under discussion . . . Be slow to speak, and only after having first listened quietly, so that you may understand the meaning, leanings, and wishes of those who do speak. Thus you will better know when to speak and when to be silent.

• When these or other matters are under discussion, I should consider the reasons on both sides without showing any attachment to my own opinion, and try to avoid bringing dissatisfaction to anyone.

• I should not cite anyone as supporting my opinion, especially if they are persons of importance, unless this has been thoroughly arranged beforehand. And I would deal with everyone on an equal basis, never taking sides with anyone.

• If the matters being discussed are of such a nature that you cannot or ought not to be silent, then give your opinion with the greatest possible humility and sincerity, and always end with the words salvo meliori iudicio—with due respect for a better opinion.”

Read more about Loyola's efforts to improve civil discourse