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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, July 26, 2016
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Rock and Refuge
with Fr. Roy Cimagala
OPINIONS

Rock & Refuge

Our life in public


            We need to give due attention to this aspect of our life. Our life in public is an integral and unavoidable part of us.

            In the first place, to be born we need to have parents and a family, then a community, a school, a market, a church, etc. We can never be alone. Our life is at once private, individually ours, and public, always with others, if not physically then at least intentionally.

            Thus we need to know the purpose of our life in public, what it involves, what it requires, what duties we have toward it, what benefits it can give us and what dangers it can pose.

            I think that as we develop fast because of our technologies, we have to know how to pull the many levers at hand to reach our proper goal.

            For example, how do we handle the many inter-generational and inter-cultural demands of our times? Our public and social life now has certain complexities unknown before. It now is much more diverse. And we need to master them, and not be their slaves or pawns.

           It’s a pity to see many people, especially the young, getting lost in the dizzying swirl of our life in public. Many of us are left badly equipped to tackle the intricacies involved. There’s the pressure of the peers and “barkada,” the pull of the mob, the lure of the entertainment world, the tricks and ambitions of business and politics, etc.

            We often get stuck in the externals and appearances without getting into the essence of things. Our reactions are mainly knee-jerk and Pavlovian. We hardly think, we barely reflect and study things.

            We generate a lifestyle based mainly on feelings and impressions, often fleeting and unstable, rather than on one that has a solid foundation, able to guide us consistently through the different phases and situations of our lives.

            As a result, we enter into a spiral of a worldly way of life with barely any soul in it. We begin to treat each other merely as facades or masks, quite plastic.

Pretensions and hypocrisy become salient features of our society, begetting the other forms of deceit and conceit.

            Instead of being persons, we become simply as actors, performers or robots. Our heart is slowly turned from flesh to stone.

We become users, manipulators and exploiters of others. The others become mere objects, products, statistics.

            Subjectivity, where respect for everyone’s spiritual character and personhood should be enhanced, ebbs away. Instead, objectification of persons takes place, drying us up to make us things instead of persons.

            The dynamics created by this set-up allows people to swing from self-absorption to self-assertion, from self-seeking to self-promotion. Thus, the truly human ways to link us into communion with others start to disappear. It’s all about the ego. The “we/us” vanishes.

            The field gets littered with the remains of envy, greed, lust, sloth and other capital sins. And, sad to say, there are many exploiters and predators in this field who take advantage of the situation and the vulnerability of the weak and the gullible. We need to expose them and their tactics.

            We have to put a stop to this vicious cycle, and reverse it to become a virtuous cycle. This will depend on whether we first establish and strengthen our personal relationship with God.

           We have to be most wary of the rise of secularism and relativism in society. They come as a result precisely of setting God aside from our life in public.

            And so, we can see in many countries today delicate moral issues that need to be resolved very clearly: abortion, confusion about sexual identity and human nature, divorce, disconnection of science and technology from morality, lack of respect for freedom of conscience, questionable educational thrusts in schools, etc.

            These issues are slowly invading our shores, and we just have to strengthen our faith, especially that of our leaders, for this eventuality.

            Faith and religion are always involved in these issues. While these issues have to be considered under many aspects, we have to understand that the considerations of faith and religion, being so basic in us, should be given priority.

            It’s in our faith and religion that the fundamental and ultimate meaning of the issues are given. It’s where our ultimate common good is determined. The practical, the legal, the social, cultural and historical aspects have to somehow defer to them.

           Contrary to some views, being consistent to one’s faith and religion in public office does not make him a fanatic, a fundamentalist or detached from reality. Quite the opposite is true.*

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