Tuesday, January 29, 2008

“Reform Yourselves…” (Mark 1:15)

“We as a people are still devoid of a real social conscience…” (CBCP STATEMENT 27 January 2008)

On the occasion of its First Plenary Assembly for the year 2008, the Permanent Council of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines together with other Bishops, had an honest to goodness dialogue with different representative groups from the “Civil Society” of the country. The encounter was courteous yet courageous, gentle but firm. In addition to what the Episcopal Conference already well knew regarding the so many adverse socio-political realities having plagued the country for years with very disturbing immoral dimensions, the said groups brought to its attention many more sad and saddening socio-ethical liabilities with their causal authorship coming from certain infamous national and local government public officials in the land.

The CBCP Statement mentioned the more salient and serious long since oppressing and depressing social factors felt by Filipinos all over the land according to its own sources—plus those distinctly brought to its attention by the Civil Society. And the list of the combined political and economic disasters with their attendant social and moral devastations is both sadly rather long and truly pitiful. The truth is only the blind, the deaf and dumb would not know and feel such disgusting blatant degradation of human life and dignity, gross violation of human rights and legitimate aspirations. The victims have always been the same, viz., the common people, the helpless and the poor—with the consistent victors occupying the halls of power and influence while wallowing on the wealth of the nation and living lavishly on public funds principally coming form the direct and indirect taxes of the people from birth to death.

The three more signal over-all manifestations of all such markedly serious ethical aberrations and downright grave moral reversals in governance specially during the reign of the present administration , are the following: First, the common good and general welfare of the Filipinos are subordinated to the personal interests and dynastic concerns of those in tenure of exalted and enriching public offices. Second, millions of citizens are made to work abroad even under slavery conditions or in constant danger of death, primarily in order to keep the Country somehow economically still afloat. Third, the ruling administration is bent at any and all costs in selling the national patrimony to exploitative and destructive foreign capitals under the nauseating guise of promoting development and of assuring the future of the Country.

The key and incisive question poised by the CBCP is expressed and clear enough: Why? How come we have such a long standing and corrupt and corrupting government? How come such dishonest, detestable and distrusted leading public officials now have and continue to hold high elective public offices? How come the leading character in all this composite national catastrophe plus its loyal cohorts and subservient minions afford to continue acting the grand master of the Country—with many people cowering in fear, keeping silent, staying still? Why? Something is fundamentally wrong when a supposedly democratic form of government is patently not of the people, neither from the people, nor for the people—but exactly the other way around? Something must be basically wrong with us—the people—who allow such basically anti-people government to continue and rule. Something must be wherefore done by us too—the people—eventually for the purpose of putting moral order—truth, justice and peace—in our dear Philippine society precisely by big lies, glaring injustice and profound disharmony.

That is precisely why the CBCP echoed the challenging call of the Gospel: “REFORM YOURSELVES”. It is not right that we just keep blaming the infamous trio of lying, cheating and stealing by those in government. It is neither enough that we merely complain about the poverty, misery and sickness in many parts of the country as primarily caused by huge, continuous and vulgar government graft and corruption done as a matter of fact. Much less is it about giving in to frustration and despair, to just give up and keep off, to curse or leave the country.

That is specifically why the CBCP made the disconcerting but awakening conclusion: “WE AS A PEOPLE ARE STILL DEVOID OF A REAL SOCIAL CONSCIENCE.” Among other things, this means that we do not really care for our suffering neighbors, our impoverished communities, our divided nation. Reason: We are too preoccupied with our own selves—our private good, our domestic design, our dynastic design.

That is concretely why we are reminded by the CBCP not only to reform ourselves, viz., to repent for the evil we have individually done and the good we personally left undone. In other words, we merely have the errant public officials we unworthily elected into office just as we have the government we deserve for practically doing nothing to convert and renew it, to correct and make it upright—or finally to dismiss and do away with it when every effort and all endeavor to cleanse it of its moral garbage and ethical rubbish ultimately prove vain and futile.

The CBCP plan of action could be wherefore thus spelled in three main stages: 1st. Reform our own selves. 2nd Form our social conscience. 3rd. Act for the common good.

29 January 2008