This year, the summer season saw temperatures rising to its highest at 58 degrees celsius in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. People were hoping that the heat would drastically slow down the rate of viral infection. However, much to the dismay of everyone, the virus continued with its onslaught of infections. Summer is quickly fading away albeit failing to “flatten the curve.”
With governments imposing home isolation, an interesting phenomenon began to take shape across the globe. I refer to the rising cases of domestic or family violence, as reported by Ms. Amanda Taub of the New York Times. Apparently, the strict confinement of couples for long durations in cramped spaces have fomented enmity rather than intimacy. Again, we see an apparent failure to “flatten the curve” of yet another problem – “intimate” violence, a new term for domestic violence coined by Ms. Taub.
More often than not, the root cause of such a problem may be traced to weakness in character. It could be that being together 24 hours for prolonged period could induce friction between spouses. This, in turn, could spark arguments, criticisms or vehement complaints, which could inflame the passion of anger. Left unchecked, anger seeks its object, giving rise to violence.
How do we “flatten the curve” of domestic abuse?
St. Josemaria Escriva brings to the fore a simple remedy, as shown below:
Point no. 10
Never reprimand anyone while you feel provoked over a fault that has been committed. Wait until the next day, or even longer. Then make your remonstrance calmly and with a purified intention. You’ll gain more with an affectionate word than you ever would from three hours of quarreling. Control your temper.St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way
Control Your Temper
As may be gleaned from the above, the secret sauce to domestic peace lies in the ability to control one’s temper. The reality, however, is that it is easier said than done. The underlying reason is that such a virtue is not embedded in the human DNA. Because of the sin of our first parents, all of mankind are born into this world with a corrupted human nature. This human frailty is evident based on the preponderance of evil seen in present day society.
Use of Intellect or Reason
To put it bluntly, a person’s inability to control one’s temper manifests a weakness of character, more particularly, intemperance, St. Thomas Aquinas would refer to it as a childish vice. As parents, we know from experience that a child, if left to himself, say, in a toy store, would literally “go bananas” wanting to bring home all the toys he likes. In this example, if left unchecked, the child becomes spoiled. Hence, to prevent such a situation, it becomes vital to control the emotional impulse of wanting to have the toys. And, the only way to restrain the urge to possess the object is by the use of reason, which the parents are supposed to teach their children. In essence, the working principle boils down to the use of reason or rational thinking in order to control or moderate the inordinate desire or passion burning at hand.
Practice of Self-Restraint
In addition to the above, the practice of self-restraint is also essential to the emotional development of the human person. This necessitates the use of the will. By definition, will is the faculty of the mind that selects, at the moment of decision, a desire among the various desires present. Here, one would see the cooperation of human reason and will, wherein, the former identifies the nuances of various desires and the latter selects & decides on the proper choice and acts upon it. This power of self-restraint requires habitual practice in order for it to become a virtue. If done repeatedly, one eventually acquires self mastery – the pinnacle of human character.
Need for Gentleness
As a final note, it is important to integrate the virtue of meekness or gentleness in emotional development in order to foster harmony in the domestic home. As St. Thomas writes: “Wherefore meekness above all makes a man self-possessed.” Because anger is impetuous, gentleness enables the person to quickly transcend the self during difficult moments through more accurate assessment of the situation. In the end, gentleness may even pave the way for a more intimate and loving relationship between couples.