Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Only Love Is Holy - Lorna N. Figueroa

As the Lenten Season comes closer, may we remember to make this a season for reflection.

I would like to share with you this poem that tells us simply but eloquently about God’s love.

God’s love is unconditional. He is not a jealous and punishing Father because “punishment brings satisfaction only to twisted minds”. Our Father wants us to lovingly communicate with Him simply like a child to a father not so much with “ holy words” because “words are not holy; only love is holy.” He does not make bargains with us; does not give us more blessings in exchange for spending more hours in church or reciting holy words. He blesses us with more gifts in life because He wants to and He knows we derserve more.

God’s love is also merciful. At times when we forget that we are merely His creation, when we turn away from Him, “misunderstand or even disobey His words”, He is there, just waiting for us to run back to Him, talk to Him once more, ask for mercy and forgiveness. He is waiting with open arms to welcome us back again.


Dick Summer

First, God lived alone and God was magic. But there was nothing to care that he was God.
And magic isn’t magic to the magician.

So God used His magic. He struck light and planets into time. And they were good because they were God's. But they were so much less than God.They couldn't care for Him. And the great God was still alone.

Then God used His magic to make living things that could swim and walk and fly.
They obeyed every word God spoke… for they were His. They never questioned Him.
But magic grows on questions that magicians never answer.
So God still hungered for a creature who could care

Then with majestic humor, God made a Mardi Gras king. God shared His own magic with a
muddy ape … Who came to call himself Man.

Like all creatures, man was God’s. But unlike all the rest some of God was man’s.
And God’s laughter thunders as man pretends to be more magic than he is mud.
Only God knows the measure of magic in each man.
God measures each man separately. Man must do no less for God.

If God has done so much to have a creature who can believe in Him …
When I believe, I satisfy God. God could not be satisfied if He did not believe in me.
And so I may call Him my God.

My God doesn’t listen for holy words. Words aren’t holy … Only love is holy.
He doesn't send hunger, sickness, and bad luck to warn me away from some hell.

My God has balanced the world so that it neither gives nor takes.
Clouds become rain, becomes ocean, becomes clouds …
For the arctic, there is the tropic … for man … woman …for harvest, hunger … for life, death.

Eternal hell would be out of balance for a handful of years spent on such a limited heaven
as this earth.

The only hell I know is my own guilt. My God never calls me guilty because He needs me for His
satisfaction. And punishment brings satisfaction only to twisted minds.

I sometimes call myself guilty, because I’m not as loving as my God.

My God doesn’t swap me a better job for an hour of singing and collection baskets every
Saturday or Sunday. He doesn’t have to make bargains.

My God has seen my hands in many different kinds of cookie jars.
But He’s also seen them break lunches in half for hungry friends to share.
And my God understands what it means to be hungry.

He’s seen my hands on other women. But He’s also seen me hold my woman...loving...sleeping through the night.
And my God understands what it means to be lonely.

My God, You’ve let Yourself need me and without Your will I would not be.
It is sometimes hard to live with one who needs you.
Hurts are so much deeper than between those who only partly care.

When I misunderstand, or even disobey Your word …
Please remember You made me this way, so You wouldn’t be alone.

Then have mercy, Magic God.

Magic God, a poem by Dick Summer, Lovin Touch III, Bantam Books, 1974, USA

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Revisiting Idealism - Jenny

The mind is the great source of most of the material things and experiences man had and continues to acquire, good or bad. We marvel at how much really is in there, such that science has not stopped exploring it. Even this process starts with or goes back to the thinking mind. The heart (emotions) is the mind’s collaborator. Both have something to do with ingenuity from which standards to live by, inventions, arts and masterpieces are generated. Mind and heart never stop unraveling what may be of use to man; so, we have a continuous flow of ideas, which subconsciously or not, is also a spillover of the desire for perfection, of the quest for idealism personified. Take the car for example; the retouching and modifying never stops and what better manifestation than the annual auto shows. The array of cars is impressive. The concept cars alone never cease to amaze. The ingenuity of man! Surely, auto makers assemble highly skilled people whose total dedication is expected to deliver the car of superb performance which is aimed not only for the present, but also, for the future. It does not come easy. As always, there are odds to overcome, and just like any parallel undertaking, sacrifices to make. So, the engineer may have to work on the design or a concept late into the night, while foregoing the warmth and comfort of home, just would a virtuoso in rehearsal, for the sake of excellence. They remain unwavering, they stick to their ideas, which sometimes don’t work, but, they don’t give up, one probable reason why car companies have been around for so long. (Competition? Oh, yes, that too; but, let’s leave it out for another day.)

The making of a car has many intricacies with distinct forces that should all come together to form the reality perceived or the semblance of it. The design, quality materials, engine layout, cylinders, the horsepower, the rpm, distribution of torque, the turbine, its capacity for fuel economy and low emissions, the total weight of the car, the need for 4-wheel drive perhaps, or seats that would hold one’s body more like in rally cars, enhanced overall balance, hardened steel cage, and many more---all combined in harmony by man’s wisdom, dedication and determination to pursue that one refinement and power of a car. It is akin to an opus, a symphony; where timing and precision deliver an enjoyable experience, exemplary finesse and prowess, a masterpiece that leaves an impression of the mind and heart. The impressions they make is the reality they shape. Thus, we see highly manufactured or meticulously made cars with exceptional rhythm and performance, remarkable geometry, aerodynamics and safety features yet to be surpassed. What a product of a pursuit of perfection! Close to perfection. Some flaws: seats not pleasing to those who do not watch their diet, and interior spaces of which a leggy Ichabod Crane would be annoyed. And we could sigh for the price this kind of cars command and sweat with frustration on a luggage compartment that just welcomes a bucket of snacks. Objectively, however, the dedicated effort was for that remarkable refinement and power of a car. Purchase prices for a select few, seating and compartments, only for certain sizes---these are products of calculated subjectivity and issues foregone in aiming for the utmost symmetry demanded by an uncorrupted objectivity. What really stand out are the imbuing benefits and quality to be treasured and enjoyed for long. So are the blueprints of good standards that will usher sensitive, responsible creativity to the future.

Life demands similar idealism. It is one conceived and fostered as the principles of proper survival and responsible living are defined and examined. This exercise is as complex and intricate as the variables that characterize mankind and its environment. Objectively, and in the greater scheme of things, idealism is the consciousness or belief and/or pursuit of perfection or something close to it, carefully envisioned with a fine perception of what ought to be, measured fundamentally and traditionally by the expected results of common harmony and well-being. It is strengthened by disciplines, spiritual beliefs and by the realization of an all-knowing Supreme Being (regardless of how each one perceives this to be), whose preaching apart from the love and respect for Him, all comes down to just loving one’s neighbour. And when we think of perfection, regardless of how elusive it can be, what come to mind almost instantly are things beautiful both physical and spiritual, good and endearing, and things to live for openly for a long time; certainly not the perfect crime or the perfect illicit relationship or the perfect invasion (home or country) or more chillingly, the perfect strategy for ethnic cleansing.

It is an argument that idealism remains only in our conscious mind, far from turning into reality. Nevertheless, we see reality exist because of the idealism formed by the deliverers of reality. In most cases, the reality obtained from the idealism introduced is not the exact representation of the ideals formed. For idealism to at least enter the realm of reality, it requires fortitude, wisdom, dedication, sacrifice and discipline, and if it is encompassing, effective dissemination, perhaps calling for examples and role models. This process requires specific goals and never ceases to be daunting since idealism is a labyrinth of paths representing other ideals, each one branching out from another, oftentimes, slowly, yet invaluably loosening the grasp on objectivity. In essence, it is subjective because we humans interact, have different needs, endeavours and aspirations, be they communal or personal, prompting us to form different ideals, to establish our own concepts of perfection and how to achieve it. As such, idealism swings anywhere between good, distorted and bad.

Caught in the web of ideas/ideals is how we affect each other, whether we comprehend this or not; no matter how remotely indirect these things that impact us are. The idealism behind varying human activity can objectively integrate; therefore, elevating congruity, unity, better communication and cooperation; or it can subjectively clash, be aggressively intercepted and can be polarizing. Given this, idealism can inspire, at the very least, to move us to strive towards near-perfection of what is good for almost everybody, or, it can poison our minds and character towards the ultimate destruction of most of humanity.

Idealism is the force on which our freedoms were predicated. Freedom begets rights and more creativity. Creativity begets responsibility and accountability, which beget laws, moral standards, regulations, and governance. This goes on as more human and environmental categories are identified; thus, again, the labyrinth of ideals. One would like to think that as humanity discovers its God-given talents, creativity and advancement of all kinds would be better utilized overwhelmingly by the more fortunate who have easy access to them, towards mutual understanding and collaboration while overshadowing iconoclastic attitudes--such that whatever immorality, suffering and chaos would be reduced to a level where most of us would be able to secure a certain kind of assurance that it is a remote case; that it is contained and the chances of it happening again is slim and would not be as grave or gruesome as previously experienced; that there are reliable individuals looking after each one’s well-being. What a disappointment! More alarming are the emergence of more questionable idealism and/or the replication of what had been dysfunctional ages ago. And this is very welcoming to marginalized unguided minds and dispositions. So, we see a labyrinth of insidious and destructive idealism similarly opened. Paranoia seeps in and defense mechanisms of every kind are activated. It is equally challenging to see this kind of idealism unfold despite awareness and clamour for justice and order, despite the desire to help others, despite various studies on behavioral patterns. It appears that every effort to help and cooperate is met by an opposite idealism not wanting in cynicism and skepticism.

As was in the old ages and perhaps more increasingly now, humanitarian and egalitarian idealism is frowned upon as it clashes with materialistic, power-driven societal structure and the pragmatism conceived as business palates are shamelessly described by greed and as the race to be ahead of anyone, everyone, becomes intense, every minute, every hour. We see the thriving of plutocratic tendencies, of insensitive elitism aimed to demean instead of vouching more focused innovations towards uplifting mankind’s overall status, of varied rebellion and crimes, of an environment catering to catastrophes and mutations of diseases, of blatant gaucheries, of parenting go awry, of relationships broken, of entertainment trivializing human dignity and integrity, of pretenses and charades in every form. These are even happening in societies asserting a dominant religion that preaches the love of God and a faith never lacking in proprieties and ascetic principles.

To some undiscerning individuals, absorbed in finding the easy way out, intellectual dishonesty is the solution of choice. Never mind eliminating or cutting the causes of a problem, just match it with what seems to be a balancing effect—a new philosophy of survival it seems. Thus, we see dignity proclaimed by material lavishness, by unnecessary bellicose stances, by arrogance masked by a supposedly required assertiveness, by trees planted to address environmental issues without abiding by the more serious requirements of the Kyoto protocol---these, amidst citizenry wallowing in poverty, amidst daily life accentuated with graft and corruption in every move, amidst politicians of glaring incompetence and shady backgrounds and citizens taking advantage of the excesses they provide during election, amidst bleak infrastructure, amidst abhorrent pretentious service, amidst disasters, and diseases. What idealism!

Over the years, individuals, societies, communities and countries have undergone a certain socioeconomic programming, which if comprehensively explored, is actually self-defeating. It also unbelievably generates an acceptance that just perpetuates character degeneration. It has almost become the norm of daily life. This is incomprehensible with the advent of more research and discovery of every kind and of more precise definition and understanding of variables and statistical analysis. Almost everyone is in a loop with barely a solution, with ultra-flexible idealism that conforms not to the tenets which prolong decent living and survival, but with distorted idealism that only serves the immediate needs with no regard for decorum or glorifies fleeting whims, to an extent that there seems to be a contagious complacency (or self-denial perhaps). These are circumstances of negligence and/or intended choices lacking the foresight of an idealism that could spare the heavy costs on the future of our children.

Fortunately, order is still the choice of the majority, a sign of wisdom and intellect; and man is not born evil, an endowment that with proper handling can go a long way to sustain an idealism this world needs. The challenges are matching, the tasks, complex.

A footnote: An old movie, “Das Boot”, depicted a seemingly doomed U-boat and its crew during World War ll. All essential devices appeared irreparable after it was bombed and it sunk beyond its limit. It was apparent that everybody had to give his best to alleviate the predicament and ultimately get out of it. One crew kept praying without lifting a finger. Somebody had to address him effectively in order to understand the situation. Meanwhile, obscured, was a nervous member doing his task while softly entreating God’s help. Everyone provided the utmost assistance needed by the overworked engineer. However, one wrecked part was followed by another and another. Oxygen was running out and almost everybody gave up hope, but with the unstoppable engineer, they were still driven to continue the struggle to fix things up, narrowed down to just the more vital parts and devices. At the end, the U-boat started to lift, much to the relief of everyone. The captain murmured, “All it needed was good people”.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Highlights - Diane D. Garcia

Mayor Benito Doma of Prieto-Diaz, Sorsogon said that he and farmer Leoncio Detablan of Lupi of this town who made contact with a heron suspected of being a carrier of the avian flu remained in good health and showed no symptoms of the dreaded disease. Detablan had earlier caught the bird that had a stainless steel tag labeled Tokyo, Japan and he subsequently brought the bird to Mayor Doma. After some examinations, he ordered it buried. Result was not infected after all. And that's the good news.
Migratory birds for its vast mangrove forest are frequenting Prieto-Diaz. The town is included in the bird-flu watch list.
This prompted the World Health Organization to visit Prieto-Diaz to check on the report.
Meanwhile, Sorsogon Gov. Raul Lee called for all municipal mayors and health officials in the province and discussed the proper monitoring activities to prevent entry of suspected bird-flu carriers.

Twelve opposition bets top the recent nationwide survey conducted by the research group, IBON Foundation. Top runners are: Loren Legarda, Sorsogon Rep. Francis Escudero, Taguig-Pateros Alan Peter Cayetano, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Sen. Manny Villar, Sen.
Francis Pangilinan, Sen. Gringo Honasan, San Juan Mayor Joseph "JV" Ejercito and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) reported that their equipment for monitoring Mount Bulusan in Sorosogn has been stolen. Thieves also stole copper wire phone cables at their Legaspi City observatory, in a separate incident.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources lifted the suspension on Australian company Lafayette Philippines Inc.'s mining operations in Rapu-Rapu Island, Albay. The operations was suspended last Nov. 2005 after the site was plagued by mining tailings which brought health hazard to the coastal communities and reported fish kill in the nearby river.
The decision is good for Lafayette but a grim one for the communities within and around Rapu-Rapu Island.

Ref: Philippine Daily Inquirer & Channel 7 News