Thursday, October 31, 2019

Crisis after crisis

As most Filipinos celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day as early as today and in the coming days, it behooves us to observe the solemnity of the feasts and honor the saintly lives of those who had left their mark on this world and also our own beloved departed in many different ways.
And more than that, to contemplate the state of the woebegone country and the planet that we, the living, inhabit and will eventually leave to future generations. We are deep in a stinky pit and we know it.
 If it is the Western-style Halloween horror that you prefer, well, there is probably a lot of horror anyway in our everyday lives these days. But we must seek ways to end them — with prayer and action. Ora et labora, our Benedictine mantra, urges us. And now, we even take it to another level with ora et laban (fight).
Name it, we have it. In keeping with the solemnity of the undas weekend ahead, we pray our own personal, unofficial “Oratio Imperata” and hope to be delivered from the deadly pestilences and disasters — mainly and mostly human-caused — that plague our nation.

From out of the depths, we say, deliver us.
From the water crisis in Metro Manila brought about by the dwindling water level at the sources and because of lack of human foresight, deliver us.

And even as we wait to be quenched and drenched, we say, from the sudden torrents of rain and flooding that could again sweep away homes and farms in these times of intense weather changes, deliver us.
From the rice crisis affecting rice farmers and consumers because of the so-called newly passed “deceptive” rice tariffication/liberalization law, deliver us.
From the traffic and transportation crises in the overpopulated cities, crises that stress out millions of daily commuters and gravely affect every aspect of urban life, deliver us.
From the African swine fever sweeping the hog-raising industry and causing the death (and death by culling) of thousands of pigs, deliver us.
From the polio virus suddenly resurrecting long after it had been declared nonexistent in the country, deliver us.

From the dramatic rise in HIV cases, deliver us.
From the dengue-carrying mosquitoes that continue to afflict thousands of Filipinos, children mostly, and cause overcrowding in hospitals, deliver us.
From strong earthquakes (another strong one in Mindanao) and other natural disasters, deliver us.
From gun-wielding, motorcycle-riding assassins and hired extrajudicial killers who take orders from the powerful, deliver us.
From drug lords who flood the country with prohibited substances but who remain untouchable and scot-free, deliver us.
From liars, falsifiers, rumormongers and fork-tongued purveyors of untruths, deliver us.
And there is our collective crisis of faith in our government institutions and officials, who break the rules in the book and continue to walk free and with impunity.
Is there deliverance?
Related to this season’s main topic of life and death, let me share something from the book “The Death of Life,” by environmentalist, theologian and author of many books Fr. Sean McDonagh, where he honors several persons, three of them (Catholic priests) killed in Mindanao because they were protecting the environment. (McDonagh, an Irish Columban, had lived in Mindanao and spent time with the T’bolis of South Cotabato).
He shares something not widely known: “In 1942, at the height of World War II, the German army laid siege to the city of St. Petersburg (then named Leningrad) and cut off the food supply. It was a horrendous few months during which 600,000 died from hunger, starvation and disease. During the siege, hungry Russian scientists remained at the Institute protecting the vast collection of seeds from rats and the elements. In all, 14 scientists died of starvation surrounded by these bags of seeds. They could have eaten the seeds to save their lives. Instead, they were willing to sacrifice their lives so that rare seeds would be available to future generations. We must honor their memory by doing everything we can to preserve different species around the globe.” (Sourced from “Biodiversity and the Trinity” by Belden C. Lane, America, 17 December 2001). #