Let me be the first to admit it – the very popular singing group, The Black Eyed Peas, do not perform my kind of music. After the 1980s, very few musical performers ever appealed to me anymore.
However, my Filipino-Australian friend Jose “Peting” Respall was deeply touched by my column last Sunday about the greater crisis of the Catholic Church and called my attention to the song UNION, which I believe was co-written with Sting, and performed by The Black Eyed Peas. Peting called my attention to the powerful message of the lyrics of UNION.
When I looked up the song on Google, I was able to get both the lyrics and the YouTube performance of the song itself. Following is the lyrics of UNION as well as the YouTube link where you can view the music video.
By The Black Eyed Peas
(One for all, one for all)
(It’s all it’s all for one)
Let’s start a union, calling every human
It’s one for all and all for one
Let’s live in unison, calling every citizen
It’s one for all and all for one
We don’t want war- can’t take no more
It’s drastic time for sure
We need a antidote and a cure
Coz do you really think Mohammed got a problem with Jehovah
We don’t want war – imagine if any prophet was alive
In current days amongst you and I
You think they would view life like you and I do
Or would they sit and contemplate on why
Do we live this way, act and behave this way
We still livin’ primitive today
’Cause the peace in the destination of war can’t be the way
There’s no way, so people just be a woman, be a man
Realise that you can change the world by changing yourself
And understand that we’re all just the same
So when I count to three let’s change
Got no time for grand philosophy
I barely keep my head above the tide
I got this mortgage, got three kids at school
What you’re saying is the truth that really troubles me inside
I’d change the world if I could change my mind
If I could live beyond my fears
Exchanging unity for all my insecurity
Exchanging laughter for my tears
I don’t know, y’all, we in a real deposition
In the midst of all this negative condition
Divided by beliefs, differences and religion
Why do we keep missing the point on our mission?
Why do we keep killing each other, what’s the reason?
God made us all equal in his vision
I wish that I could make music as a religion
Then we could harmonise together in this mission
Listen, I know it’s really hard to make changes
But two of us could help rearrange this curse
Utilising all the power in our voices
Together we will unite and make the right choice
And fight for education, save the next generation
Come together as one
I don’t understand why it’s never been done
So let’s change on the count of one
It takes one, just one
And then one follows the other one
And then another follows another one
Next thing you know you got a billion
People doing some wonderful things
People doing some powerful things
Let’s change and do some powerful things
Unity could be a wonderful thing
You can listen to the UNION by logging on to this link: http://www.youtube. com/watch?v=rT_-Ln7eWpw
After viewing YouTube, I still could not relate to the music no matter how relevant the lyrics of the song are to our present problems. But I was really stirred by its powerful message of unity and shared the lyrics and the YouTube link with friends and kin.
One of those who received my email was my cousin in South Africa, Andrew Macgregor. Andrew’s grandfather Robert and my grandfather Ian were brothers. They were born to a well-to-do family and raised in Scotland but both of them, typical of Scots, sought their fortunes overseas.
Robert Macgregor went to South Africa where he occupied a key position during World War II in the Munitions Office of the British Army. Robert died shortly after the war, in 1951.
My grandfather Ian came here to be part of the management team that built the railway link from Manila to Legaspi. He joined the Smith Bell Company and later the pioneering team that setup the Del Monte Plantation in Bukidnon. Ian became the 1919 and 1920 Philippine Open Golf Champion and perished in the 1945 Battle of Manila along with over 100,000 civilians.
Like me, Andrew found the Black Eyed Peas message in the UNION lyrics quite moving. By no coincidence, both Philippine and South African societies are suffering from a problem of national unity.
Over here, we are psychologically in a state of civil war. Our hungry masses have been driven to such desperation that at any given time we could experience the have-nots attacking the haves in our society – a social explosion. But other than a looming class war, we are plagued with conflicts that can also easily drag the entire nation into civil war.
We have Filipino Christians at war with Filipino Muslims. Then there are Christians at war with fellow Christians – feuding over political and economic spoils. There is the silent war between the PDSP of Norberto Gonzales and Fr. Archie Intengan, SJ against the forces of Jose Maria Sison who was once mentored by another Jesuit, Fr. Jose Blanco, SJ. Even our AFP is divided into pro and anti Gloria Macapagal Arroyo factions.
The Catholic Church – the one institution that should be leading the way towards reconciliation and dialogue – is itself undergoing turmoil right within the CBCP. There are Bishops who are fighting the evil in the land while other Bishops are seen protecting that evil.
My cousin Andrew is witnessing violent Xenophobia happening in his native South Africa. South African Blacks are assaulting and killing refugees (called Amakwerekwere) from troubled neighboring States like Zimbabwe who are seen as competing for the few jobs available. It is the classic case of the hungry, angry man envying the other man with a piece of bread.
Two cousins, living in two continents, but both feel threatened by the failure of unity in their respective society.