In a season of hope, let’s start with the truth
HIGH GROUND By William M. Esposo 2004-12-20
Christmas is the Season of Hope. Celebrating the birth of Christ, we also celebrate the renewal of newfound hope that mankind may rise from the depths of despair. But, the perception of what is ‘hope’ unfortunately can take on as many twists and turns as man’s own whimsical nature.
In 2004, Filipinos found themselves in similar dire straits as the Jews in Christ’s time: both finding themselves weighed down by oppressive conditions – the Roman imperial yoke in the case of the Jews – and in the case of Filipinos, the burden of a Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo presidency.

Like Filipinos eternally awaiting the fruition of their hopes, the Jews had waited and waited for their messiah to come, expecting this to happen with all the thunder and lightning accompanying a horde of heavenly angels. They have created a mental picture of what their messiah should be like and what he is expected to do. Having lost discernment, they looked for things that glitter, those that would gratify and fill up the yawning gaps of their mundane existence. When the Messiah came, He spoke strange messages and threatened comfort zones. He could not be the Messiah that they were hoping for so they crucified him. Rejected by His own, Christ’s message and His work took root in Rome which ironically became the seat of the Catholic religion.

Christ’s Truth delivers one from the bondage of sin. It does not assure one of wealth or social standing or imperial glory. It does not exist for the sake of political exigency. It is Truth that liberates and allows one to stand above pride and conceit and the flitting pleasures of earthly life. It is Truth that is impervious to one’s stature, wealth and circumstance. Obviously, this kind of Truth did not sit well with the puppet kings installed by the Romans and the hierarchy of Pharisees who were consumed by their own bigotry.

How little things have changed since 2000 years ago! We continue to be plagued by generations upon generations of puppet leaders who only serve vested interests and false prophets who have reduced Christianity to such ridiculous acts as the waving of ‘magical’ handkerchiefs while princes of the Catholic Church coddle them for the money they bring to the Church coffers.

Like the Jews of 2,000 years ago, our people do not know how they can be emancipated from the bonds of poverty and they become attracted to personalities who peddle false hopes. Like the Jews of 2,000 years ago, we too do not believe our leaders and are losing faith in our Pharisees. Like the Jews that followed after Christ, our people are forced by economic necessities to a Diaspora – millions of Filipinos now have to work overseas simply because they have no jobs here. While a pressing economic need is served by overseas employment, there are social costs that their families have to pay.

For us to have hope, we must first know and accept the truth. The Filipino will forever be hopeless if he is not aware just who exactly is keeping him poor and by what mechanism of political power he is being exploited. Just like the human body, there is hardly any hope for effective healing if the root cause of the disease is not known.

The truth shall set us free – we have heard that said too often. But little do our people realize that truth indeed is what will set us free. Until our people get a clear picture of the social conditions and what created these conditions, we will always be diverted into falling prey to false messiahs masquerading as ‘the people’s champions’.

Truth is the light that will show us the way out of the pit we are in. Truth is the light that will allow our people to identify who are the real leaders who will faithfully serve and who are the pretenders who will exploit them.

We have an educational system that guarantees free education up to high school level. We have an abundance of print and broadcast media with both national and local scopes of operations. Yet most of our people – tragically those who are the worst exploited – are hardly aware of the power structures and the players behind these power structures that exist to exploit them.

Many decry that Filipinos do not have a sense of country. How can a people have a sense of country when they do not even have a grasp of their history? The best physician cannot address an ailment unless he knows the patient’s medical history that led to that problem. If there is an infection, was it caused by external contamination or the result of a diabetic’s exceedingly high blood sugar? Each root cause requires a different medical prescription.

The same situation exists in our failed democracy. The few political leaders who may be able to turn our country around – many from the local government units who serve with distinction and have not lost their moorings – are hardly recognized outside of their local spheres. Instead, our people who are now disillusioned with the traditional politicians are finding ‘alternatives’ in showbiz personalities, many of them professionally unqualified for the job, some of them morally unfit to be public officials.

After an election where showbiz personalities won highly sensitive public offices, the more knowledgeable members of society talked about the urgent need to educate the electorate. Six months after, all that talk remained just that – talk. After the May 1, 2001 assault in Malacanang by the Erap masses, many of the Makati Business Club members talked about effecting a more equitable distribution of wealth in the country. Three months later, when it appeared that the government had pre-empted future similar threats, all that talk again remained just that – talk.

Today the country is in its worst crisis where extreme grinding poverty, failed corrupt leadership, fiscal deficit, and cynicism achieved a confluence that threatens not just the leadership but the very system itself. Unable to accept the developing dreaded scenario, many are in denial and still delude themselves into thinking that a reform here and there will solve the festering problem. They are no different from people who cannot accept being struck by cancer and delude themselves into thinking that a “Band-Aid” will solve their problem.

We are where we are because we refused to learn and accept the truth. The people in this country who had the benefit of quality education and have the means to effect change failed to make the difference because they opted to see only the ‘truth’ that they feel comfortable with. They are worse than the exploited masses who are misled into taking the wrong options because they simply did not know better.

I wish you a blessed Christmas. May our nation be guided by the whole truth and nothing but the truth as we seek the means by which we can emancipate our people from poverty. May we be spared of having to endure history’s sorry episodes of bloody political upheavals.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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