Sunday, April 5, 2015

“Wounds that cannot heal”

“For three years the ceasefire held—for three years, beleaguered families and communities experienced a sense of normalcy, planting their crops and harvesting them, enrolling their 10-year-olds in first grade, buying pots and pans and new clothes, daring to dream for their children’s future. Deaths we can count. Budgets we can figure out. Injuries we can treat. But there are wounds that cannot heal.” [‘The Bangsamoro story is also the Filipino’s’, Rina Jimenez-David, At Large, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1st Apr 2015]

Wounds that cannot heal . . . “The Pope was shot and wounded by Mehmet Ali Ağca  Turkey in June 2000.” [Wikipedia]

“Following the shooting, Pope John Paul II asked people to ‘pray for my brother [Ağca] ... whom I have sincerely forgiven.’ In 1983, he and Ağca met and spoke privately at the prison . . . Ağca reportedly kissed the Pope's ring at the conclusion of their visit. The Pope was also in touch with Ağca's family over the years . . . Although Ağca was quoted as saying that ‘to me [the Pope] was the incarnation of all that is capitalism,’ and attempted to murder him, Ağca developed a friendship with the pontiff. In early February 2005, during the Pope's illness, Ağca sent a letter to the Pope wishing him well.

“Several theories exist concerning Mehmet Ali Ağca's assassination attempt. One . . . among others, is that the assassination attempt had originated from Moscow and that the KGB  Bulgarian and East German secret services to carry out the mission . . . because of [Pope John Paul II’s] support of Poland's Solidarity movement, seeing it as one of the most significant threats to Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe.”

As some would know, I am an Eastern European card-bearing resident (beyond the two passports I carry) and have spent most of the last 12 years in that part of the world. I thought these people were different when my wife and I first arrived. Like I did the Lutherans and INC members when I attended their services at the invitation of relatives. And the Maryknoll sisters as well when I first visited my sister at their convent. So I thought . . .

But I've worked in different parts of the world the last 30 years . . . and if there’s something that is different, it’s that these experiences transformed me . . . I’ve become a citizen of the world . . . despite my once confined life where my waking hours revolved mostly around our parish. My siblings and I all went to our parochial school and on weekends were active in parish activity like our parents and cousins and uncles and aunts. We were the quintessential parochial Filipino family. The parish ground, surrounded by its high walls, was also our playground, where we learned to play basketball and softball. And it was where I had my first camping experience as a Boy Scout.

Not surprisingly, it is about the Philippines that I write about religiously for my twice weekly blog postings. And after 6 years I probably still sound like an odd ball? Given we're an expatriate family, ours is not like the ones my wife and I grew up in. And with our daughter in a mixed marriage, family gatherings to us mean a diverse extended family – Catholics, Protestants and Jews – sharing family celebrations. And for Easter this year, it's my daughter and son-in-law's turn to play hosts.

“Indeed, we are an archipelago, and therefore diverse. We are two peoples, no, we are a tripeople—Christian, Muslim, lumad—separated by creed, culture, history. Yet we have shared space and time. We have fought the invader, we have paid with our lives. Let us celebrate our diversity, honor our differences and affirm our commonalities. We pray to the same God (Allah for Muslims)—a God of peace, justice, love and compassion.” [Jimenez-David, op. cit.]

And I quote from my sister-nun’s Easter message: “To have faith does not mean, however, to dwell in the shadow of old ideas conceived by prophets and sages, to live off an inherited estate of doctrines and dogmas. In the realm of spirit only he [she] who is a pioneer is able to be an heir,” Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.   
Wounds that cannot heal . . . “America’s business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business. At Apple, we are in business to empower and enrich our customers’ lives. We strive to do business in a way that is just and fair. That’s why, on behalf of Apple, I’m standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges. I’m writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement. From North Carolina to Nevada, these bills under consideration truly will hurt jobs, growth and the economic vibrancy of parts of the country where a 21st-century economy was once welcomed with open arms.” [Tim Cook: Pro-discrimination ‘religious freedom’ laws are dangerous, Tim Cook, The Washington Post, 29th Mar 2015; Tim Cook is chief executive of Apple]

“I have great reverence for religious freedom. As a child, I was baptized in a Baptist church, and faith has always been an important part of my life. I was never taught, nor do I believe, that religion should be used as an excuse to discriminate.

“I remember what it was like to grow up in the South in the 1960s and 1970s. Discrimination isn’t something that’s easy to oppose. It doesn’t always stare you in the face. It moves in the shadows. And sometimes it shrouds itself within the very laws meant to protect us.

“Our message, to people around the country and around the world, is this: Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. Regardless of what the law might allow in Indiana or Arkansas, we will never tolerate discrimination.

“Men and women have fought and died fighting to protect our country’s founding principles of freedom and equality. We owe it to them, to each other and to our future to continue to fight with our words and our actions to make sure we protect those ideals. The days of segregation and discrimination marked by ‘Whites Only’ signs on shop doors, water fountains and restrooms must remain deep in our past. We must never return to any semblance of that time. America must be a land of opportunity for everyone.

“This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings. Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous.”

Because of wounds that cannot heal . . . we Filipinos cannot pull together as one people and one nation and we are always on the ready to put up excuses – why we can’t? Because of the human condition, hypocrisy is in abundance in nation after nation while Filipino social scientists have raised the ambivalence in our traits and values as being at the root of our inability to be one people? Our colonizers may be a convenient excuse yet as our historians would point out, even before they came, we were already who we are?

“The first fault line, divide if you will, is ‘them vs. us,’ the second is ‘north vs. south’ . . . ‘Them vs. us’ bespeaks of a deep-seated dualism cemented by culture and history. It relates to the Crusades in Europe that waged war against the Muslim Moors to reclaim the Holy Land. When the Spaniards came to the Philippines, Moors would be transmuted into the Moros of the south. Spanish colonial Catholicism then painted Muslims as the ‘other’—the heathen, the infidel.” [‘Dualism’ in Christian views on Moros, Rina Jimenez-David, At Large, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 31st Mar 2015]

“This ‘dualism’ . . . resurfaced in the wake of Mamasapano, in phrases, used even in the halls of Congress and the Senate, like ‘Traydor ang Muslim (Muslims are traitors),’ ‘Hindi pwedeng pagkatiwalaan ang Moro (Moros cannot be trusted).’ ‘And the unspoken’ . . . Let the BBL pay the price.’”

Wounds that cannot heal? What if we own up to our reality? And find our place in the sun?

My family joins me in wishing one and all Happy Easter!

No comments:

Post a Comment