Retrieving compassion

By: Jason A. Baguia September 09,2016 - 09:46 PM

If social media is a clue to the quality of our neighborliness, we have much reason for disillusionment, especially if we examine the discourse in the aftermath of the blasts that killed 14 and injured scores of other people in Davao City on Sept. 2.

Comments in reference to the news could be divided into two types. First, there were conspiratorial ones from critics who theorized that the blast may have been perpetrated by government architects eager to lay the groundwork for the declaration of martial law. (This may be somewhat understandable considering Philippine history in which Juan Ponce Enrile once confessed that a supposed ambush attempt on him was faked to justify Ferdinand Marcos’ martial rule). Second, there were angry rejoinders to the conspiracy theorists.

In the succeeding days, posts hinting at impending acts of terror elsewhere in the country surfaced, only to be met with reassurances from the police and other instrumentalities of the government that public order remains the general status quo.

With virtual discourse showing something of the quality of our actual communion, we must prepare ourselves and be willing to work for individual and social transformation.

In his apostolic visit to the country in 2015, Pope Francis conveyed to our youth that they must in effect relearn how to cry. His message remains timely. The hours after the Davao City explosions, illustrated how so many among us have lost our ability to grieve and settled for the convenience of being clinical spectators who would rather speculate about the politics surrounding bloodshed than be touched by the pain of sudden loss of life. In the same vein, the energy with which some among us immersed ourselves in the task of lecturing the heart-numb speculators highlighted our willingness to be distracted from the sorrow that was the order of the day.

The lives of 14 people were snuffed out. Others have been injured, perhaps for life, and while Inang Bayan cradles corpses or gasps for breath, we dare shout at one another above the situation, with nary a teardrop, or we unwittingly serve the purpose of terrorists, sowing fear by sharing baseless warnings of further attacks.

Where has our sense of compassion gone?

Picture yourself in a night market, just like the one that rocked Davao City. You go there at the end of a long day at work or school, or to help in the small family business, selling pre-loved clothing, inexpensive imports, barbecue or halo-halo.  Or you go simply for a walk, to take in the unique pleasure of roaming through a roofless mall as if it were your own patio or living room. You go there with death and injury being the last thing on your mind, then the worst happens.

By providence, you manage to survive, but somewhere you read the names of victims.

Jerome. Jay. Jeramil. Myrna. Joel. Annie Lee. Princess. Samuel. Mary Grace. Their names are not just items on a list of victims. They are persons who were conceived from the breath and laughter of the Almighty, grown in the dew and sunshine of families and friends, under the rainbows of life’s meaningful twists and turns, only to be cut down by the cruel.

What are strangers but friends you have yet to meet? What are people seen from a distance but members of your one human family in the greater scheme of things?

Let us allow this season of lamentation to bring us back to reality. Dare we see, in light of the bloodshed, more reasons to paint one another as enemies? How different does doing so make us in comparison to terrorists who have made a God in the image and likeness of their desolation, belligerence and blood-lust?

Whosoever be the culprits, they have drunk their own damnation. If individuals hungry for a police state, they will one day be haunted to their grave by the ghosts of their devilry. If terrorists, as terrorists have claimed, they have done as they do, blazing a straight street to Hades, where weeping and gnashing of teeth await them.

Our task is the softening of our hearts, to be, in our own patches of earth, in solidarity with the bereaved, to mourn those who fell, to do all that we possibly can, armed with prayer, to eliminate the conditions that turn people into terrorists or totalitarian fanatics.

Mourning. Suffering the loss. Acts of peace and reconciliation. Pulling one another out of the shadows. Believing in with calm prudence and supporting the best in one another, regardless of our political persuasions. These works unfold off the soapboxes that are our Facebook status fields.

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TAGS: attack, attacks, Davao, Davao City, Enrile, Ferdinand Marcos, Marcos, martial law
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