Pain

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IT’S FINALLY OVER – I’m referring to the national canvass, of course. Can we stop now as well? I mean the deliberate, consistent pumping of the enmity that divides us. Can we have an end of this please?

I am writing from a place of pain, you see. This election season has been the most vitriolic I’ve ever experienced. But more than the slander that erupted daily on my newsfeed, I was grieved by stealthier demons.

DISILLUSIONMENT

As a Christian and a teacher of scripture and church history, I held to biblical standards in my choice of candidates. This is why I had a very narrow field. Were it not for Leni Robredo, I probably would not have voted at all. I preferred to abstain than to endorse someone my conscience could not abide.

Serious Christians hold a high view of scripture and are usually guided by its light. This is why I was severely disillusioned to learn that several of my friends – pastors, academicians, full-time ministers, church layleaders – voted along merely regional or partisan lines. Or if not, they voted for the self-styled new messiah who promised miracle solutions in the flash of an eye.

These are folks who in their private lives are so conservative that they would be aghast at hearing a cuss word. Yet these elections had them supporting the irreverent, the despotic, the criminal, the false.

I cannot see how any hope of progress might justify this. I am not applying our Christian standards to those of other persuasions, but for us, scripture is clear and it is binding. How can we stand before our God and explain this? I do not know. We are called to be salt and light, to be countercultural and, by our imitation of Christ’s example, to effectively transform culture one person at a time. I would have thought this was clear to those among us desperately seeking change. But it was not.

DISAPPOINTMENT

As a “martial law baby” I witnessed the debacle of the nation. That I survived the dictatorship is a blessing; many others did not. I know what I saw and endured, and I expect it to be accepted because it is part of our historical record. This is axiomatic.

Instead, I have lived to see my own past reduced to a footnote and at times trivialized, at times negated; my testimony and that of others, nullified, as if our experience does not matter. The historical gunk that fills social media today is based on no more than the imagination of modern propagandists, no doubt funded by the same nefarious family that injured my generation.

My contemporaries and I matured early because we experienced constraints millennials cannot even imagine. And yet when we tell the youth “never again!”, they pooh-pooh us. They sarcastically label us “bitter” and lecture us on coping. They tell us to forgive and forget. They say, “move on.”

I could probably do that if I felt they truly understood and were prepared to acknowledge the facts. And yet, many of them are readier to swallow the falsehoods ladled out by Marcos revisionists. How disappointing.

When I was a youth, it hurt to have no voice; now that I have one, it hurts more intensely to be dismissed. I fought then to be heard; I am fighting now to be believed.

DISGUST

Scripture reveals that earthly authority emanates from God, and so I must respect His sovereign choice. I don’t pretend to like it but I will submit to His will in these elections. Scripture also says that when God acts, it is always for good. I believe that, and so I’ll wait for His purpose to unfold. There is more to this than I can possibly know.

I admit, though, I can’t see any good in burying Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. I heard Mayor Duterte’s reason for it – he was candid enough to admit that Marcos is no hero. But to say that he deserves a plot merely because “he was a Filipino soldier” disrespects those legitimately interred there and insults those who died at Marcos’s command. They were heroes.

Duterte says this move will unite and heal the country. I doubt it. You cannot treat a gaping wound with a band aid. And giving Marcos a hero’s burial to satisfy the loyalists without addressing the issues of injustice and plunder that remain after 30 years, that is a band aid. It is a disgusting remedy.

So far, as I see it, the change being offered is merely a return to the past: pardon the guilty and sanitize them, disregard cries for justice, employ strongman rule to end criminality and corruption, promise orange-colored skies. This is what I grew up with. Perhaps for the millennials this is change. For me it is nothing new. In fact, it is very old.

What I fought for on the streets when I was their age, facing tear gas and water cannons and possible arrest, this hardly matters now because the young people want change.

I want to cry out and make people listen, but I know the more I do the less they will hear. So I will be quiet for a while and deal with this pain. God’s in heaven and there’s hope. I will trust Him.

   He said, “Go and tell this people:

  “`Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
    be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’

  Make the heart of this people calloused;
    make their ears dull
    and close their eyes.
  Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts,
  and turn and be healed.”

– Isaiah 6:9-10

 

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