Love your enemy


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On Jet Wings

As a boy, I heard a couple of times my Nanay mention what she said was a prophecy.

She explained that the prophecy was made a long long time ago when the idea of an airplane or a ship was something the human mind could not yet wrap around. It prophesied of a time when puthaw manglutaw ug manglupad na. Nanay never came around to tell me whether the prophecy was Biblical or by Nostradamus.

As a country boy in Malitbog, Leyte, I watched in nonchalance the ships sailing Sogod Bay and the planes infrequently streaking through the sky, no iota of an idea that the prophecy had already come to pass.

Now I am getting the experience on my air travel from Sydney to Manila, and my inter-island sortie back in the Philippines.

The experience is hugely awesome especially when you are the wings of a jetplane. I soar to a height of around 35,000 feet above sea level far beyond an eagle or a seagull can fly. I jettison through airspace at ground speed which peaks as fast as 1000 km per hour. I cover the 6269 km distance from Sydney to Manila in less than eight hours.

I do it on wings of man’s technology which, at this point in time, also gives me the quality of being omnipresent with the advent of cyberspace that gives me access to my e-mail address anywhere in the world.

Given a GPS in my mobile, I can drive my car to personally unknown cities and streets like I have an eye in the sky, like I am the eye in the sky.

Will man, one day, storm the heavens relying on his own power and ingenuity? Will techno-man succeed where his great, great forefathers miserably failed in attempting a stairway to heaven by building the Tower of Babel?

Matter of the Heart

While there is a sea-change in man’s lifestyle brought about by advanced technology, nothing much changes when it comes to the matter of his heart. You and I have remained spiritually-challenged.

We still want to avenge where there is a need to forgive. We hate more than we love our fellowmen. The old self still reigns supreme. Nothing is new.

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth banners our human mantra of vengeance is mine. Foolishly following the human marching tune of turning ourselves into a community or nation of blind and toothless human beings.

Apart from Jesus, the old self remains. We are helplessly self-driven. With Jesus, we are set apart to be purpose-driven in God’s name. Our old self is set apart to be new. Free from the penalty of sin, though not free from its power and influence.

But now we have choice to be a curse or a blessing to our fellowmen after Jesus has restored us from the Fall to the righteous love relationship with our Father in Heaven.

The Alienation

In our fellowship with each other, we have the power to choose either to be a curse or a blessing. It is in this context that I recall my recent visit to Dumaguete.

I arrived Saturday with the festive air of Silliman’s 109th Founders Day filling the City’s atmosphere. The following day, I went with Alex Pal to Manjuyod to cover the launching of the Bio Mechanical Goat jointly pushed by former Gov. Jose Petit Baldado and Foundation University.

I was happy to be back with my mutual friends again. It refreshed moments of my heydays as a working journalist back then. The three of us had some fun talking about the disputed White Sandbar as having great potential as a tourism spot for Manjuyod. Petit and Alex were on talking terms all right.

But I felt a cold undercurrent, if not a total estrangement, between my two close friends. I learned later from both of them separately the heart of the matter. It was a news item Alex wrote in the Dumaguete Metropost which stereotyped Petit as a man “saying one thing, and doing another” with regards to the death of the winning candidate in the recent election and the rule on succession.

Easy to be Hard

To Petit’s assertion that it would have been all right if it was written as an opinion and not as a news item, it is very easy for a journalist to claim that such is the trend in news-writing in a national newspaper like the Philippine Daily Inquirer. It is easy for oneself to stand firm as a journalist, and proclaim that the public deserves to know.

Such was the conceit assumed by the journalists in the Manila hostage-taking crisis that resulted in the death of eight Hongkong nationals. It was convenient for them to forget the journalist’s aphorism that no story is worth a life. The rating game was foremost in their minds. When news scoop becomes the ultimate, it is very easy for a journalist to forget the sensibility and sensitivity of the news object. The vulnerability of the news subject. It is all very easy…very easy to be hard.

I have watched Petit’s political fortune rise from Mayor to Vice Governor. Once I wrote a news item about him as the Manjuyod Mayor who was concerned more of building the character of his people rather than infrastructure. His kind of local governance earned him a pat in the back from his former law professor, the dean of the SU College of Law.

Together with the late Provincial Atty. Wilfredo Salmin, his fellow Development Academy of the Philippines trained youth leader under the New Society, we talked of the days when the young would take over the provincial reins from the political fogies. It was not to be. He had to run the gauntlet. Now he was facing certain defeat except for a slim hope on a hazy rule of succession.

It is very hard to face one’s first political setback. It is very easy, therefore, to make someone snuffing out that glimmer of hope as a villain. It easy to see malice from anyone. It is easy to indulge in a blame game. Easier to find a scapegoat. Blame everybody else except oneself. Easiest to be very very hard.

The Enemy is Us

I can see where both of my friends are coming from. I can empathize with Petit’s anger and self righteous indignation.

As a journalist, I understand Alex’s haughty nonchalance. Both are acting from the disadvantaged point of human weakness.

I, too, am prone to such lame human reactions — to be unforgiving and vain. In every conflict, we demand to resolve the issues always on our respective selfish terms, not on the objective truth, never on God’s truth.

We pray the Lord’s Prayer almost daily. But what have we done to hallow his name? What have we done to make His Kingdom come here on Earth?

We mouth the grace of forgiveness, but we embrace in our hearts the idea of getting even all the time. We pray to be delivered from the Evil One, yet we are full of evil schemes against our perceived enemies. Plainly and simply, the enemy is us.

Overcoming Evil with Love

I tried to explain to Petit that he is a loser many times over if he keeps harboring the resentment. In pointing to an open door of spiritual healing, I argued that the news item ought to hurt him only once, on the day that he read it. Though the bitterness remains, it ought not hurt him again a day after.

By choice, we can treat it as a curse or blessing. Taking it as a curse will make ourselves as the enemy. Then maybe, it is easier to forgive that enemy as we can easily love ourselves. Easier to do good to those who hate you, easier to bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you.

Easy to love the enemy, just love thyself in Jesus’ name. Absolutely not on Techno man’s name.

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