Thursday, March 02, 2006

So Let the Pain Remain, Kababayan

So Let the Pain Remain

I’m on a roll… I have a million things to do but I can’t stop thinking about the desecration of our freedoms of speech, of the press, of peaceful assembly, etc., as found in our Bill of Rights, i.e., Article III of the 1987 Constitution.

So these are words you wouldn’t find in the Supreme Court Resolution that would be released regarding the petitions questioning the validity of PP 1017 (if I’m talking Greek, please read my recent posts first, thanks).

One of my favorite authors, Philip Yancey, wrote in his award-winning book “Where is God When It Hurts?” that pain is God’s way of protecting the body from danger. I remembered this when I concluded my previous entry with a reference to the Filipino’s sense of humor. It had tided us over scandals, calamities, and exposé’s because we had learned to find the most humorous things in the midst of the worst scenarios.

Because of our propensity to send text messages, we cascade jokes in real time – like recently, jokes about how GMA’s voice on the cellphone while talking to champion boxer Manny Paquiao in Las Vegas sounded just like the voice in the notorious “Hello Garci” tapes – minutes after the incident was shown on national television.

We have learned to laugh at our own defeats, and we have chosen to forget the tragedies that have befallen us. We have come up with coping mechanisms to shield ourselves from pain. Thus, time and again have opportunistic politicians, just like the shrewd colonizers before them, plundered us of our wealth and mired us deeper into the sinking sand that is poverty.

What clicked in my head and prompted me to write this blog is the way our eroding sense of pain has allowed us to forgive too easily (forgiveness in the Christian sense is not in issue here, suffice to say that we must love the sinner, yes, but still hate the sin) and to never learn from our mistakes.

The premise of Mr. Yancey’s book is that God is with us when it hurts, and we should thank Him for the pain, because without it we would be dead. Without pain, we would not be aware of the dangers that are surrounding us, and we would not come up with the protective shields that God has laid out for us. Before we know it, we would be lifeless. We could probably live with the pain, in a sense, but what a life that would be – not a “life to the full”, as Jesus promised, but one that is wrapped around cancers that could slowly kill us, without us noticing them.

Mr. Yancey consulted a famous doctor while doing his research on pain. Dr. Paul Brand’s landmark work on leprosy led to the conclusion that this disease does not directly cause the destruction of tissue, but what it does to the patients is just to muffle their protective warnings of pain, so that they would not be aware, for example, that their grip on the cleaning mop, was too tight that their fingers were already being cut off one by one, or that their hands were being burned by a hot surface, losing the said appendage in the process. Lepers thus lose fingers, hands, arms, and legs not directly through their disease but through the dangers that they willingly walk into as a result of their numbness from any kind of pain.

This could be what we have been going through as a people. We have leprosy, a disease that is slowly causing us to lose our sense of pain, and is making us “forgive-and-forget” politicians when we should be voting them out of our government; making us laugh when we should be standing up for our rights; making us go to the mall and watch escapist movies when we should be watching the news and letting our voices heard; and making us prefer to idolize a boxing champion just because at least for one afternoon, we were united and triumphant at something big.

I will not discuss at length Mr. Yancey’s insights, as I recommend that you all read the book (and his other magnificent works), but I would like to apply his theory on why God allows suffering to us Filipinos. God allows suffering, just like he provided built-in sensors to pain in our bodies to protect us from injury, in order to point us to a direction that He wants us to take, to preserve life, not just existence, and to have it to the full.

Apathy, ignorance, and indifference to the beatings that our laws have taken from the Arroyo administration would just embolden them to take further transgressions upon our rights. Let us open our eyes and be vigilant. We may think that our suffering is meaningless, but we cannot deny that there is injustice all around us, and we should stop pretending like nothing is wrong and that our economy is improving.

I sat-in tonight at one Adult Catechesis class at the Loyola School of Theology, and in it Dr. Jake Yap quoted Peter Kreeft, who wrote “Making Sense Out of Suffering”, when he said that Jesus “came, all the way, right into the cry” of the people. I like that. God therefore does not watch us while we suffer away, He is able, through His Son, to walk into our very pain, and to take it away, in His time.

Let us try to slowly bury our penchant to dismiss the wrongs that are committed against us. They happened for a reason and we must be attuned to what our hearts are crying out. We should fight for our freedom, or else we could lose it by the mere fact of our acquiescence.

The pain that we suffer now is there to show us that we are already in danger, and that we stand to damage our country further. Simply to laugh it off or to escape from it would not do the trick anymore. We could lose so much more than we have ever imagined.

Leprosy is the oldest recorded disease. Jesus was able to heal scores of lepers in His lifetime, and He could heal us now of our political leprosy. But first we have to recognize that we are sick, and that we need His help. And if He chooses not to wave away all our problems, let us appreciate the pain, and welcome it, because they would show us the way to produce genuine statesmen among us, and to finally become a strong nation.

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