December 27, 2011

Hope floats

THIS is the best editorial I've read so far this year. It captures the essence of who we are as Filipinos in a time of tragedy - how we all come together, and give hope to others. It is the Christmas story all over again.
EDITORIAL: Rejoice for a nation reborn
InterAksyon, Dec. 25, 2011

We have heard the good news reprised in various ways, and each story, we have on good account, is true:

The child was found floating on a raft of debris. He was saved by a dog. She clung to a pig until some higher power calmed the seas. He lost his wife and son and daughter and ended up saving, and being saved by, a stranger. Oh, the selflessness and the courage, the triumphant spirituality and enduring faith: The survivors are too busy saving each other to grieve for themselves.

We have heard of the miracles as well as of more numerous tragedies that engulf but all the more give them brilliance, and like wisened men now understanding why every star is surrounded but never denied by the larger night, we know that both light and darkness exist to help us navigate to wherever it is we need to go – and, should we choose to do so, to find our way home.

And so as we had gone, we now come from all corners of the world. Carpenters, sailors, teachers, engineers, nurses, lawyers, farmers, entrepreneurs, doctors, students, mothers, fathers – babes and wise men simultaneously, us all – bearing gifts for every child lifted from carnage.

The pilgrimage for Filipinos this Christmas is to Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, and though God knows we are weary of uniting over grief, the nation embraces (yet again) the call to help sift through mud, trash, and logs. We embrace, yet again, the chance to help rebuild lives and homes, with as much zeal as we would curse out the evils that buried, and continue to bury, our compatriots. The corruption, ineptitude and apathy we decry. And then we put even our most jaded side aside to roll up our sleeves for the immediate tasks at hand, which include:

Donating in the face of corruption, working with the notoriously inept, and believing that this time around, nobody is apathetic.

How do we do it? How do we come back again and again, to say there is no hope, and then to show the hope to be as common as a loving parent, as a volunteer from every barangay, as an OFW in every home, as a Facebook account and a cellphone number that’s given up for spreading all things to #HelpCDO? How do we come to be our own best refutation of our most cynical selves?

Perhaps we look to CDO and Iligan as we did to Ormoc and Payatas and every town that drowned with every Ondoy and Pepeng and Ruping. Which is to say, here, all over here, there are as much children and whole families to be rescued and given room in our selfish lives, as there are seeds of hope to be planted in our own hearts. We are tired as a nation, and yet we know that in every tragedy, salvation is not the gift we bring for others, it is the miracle we hope to find for ourselves.

In the end, the wise men of the east got so much more than what they thought they were gifting the child in swaddling clothes. They received license to go home with vision and purpose, to rebuild cities on compassion, selflessness, sacrifice, and dreams shared with others. They received blessing to be reborn as simpler and humbler persons, but more worthy of their own nations, if not of their place in a Kingdom in heaven.

We are stubborn for the opportunity to see our nation reborn, with greater values of vigilance but also sacrifice, compassion, and united purpose. Tragedy that brings us home makes us both the wise men bearing gifts and the babe for which we would like to build a home. We are out to rescue ourselves.

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