Earlier this week in response to the proposed conferment of an honorary degree to the Du30, reactionaries deployed their deadliest weapon: the hashtag. By the time I got wind of #DuterteNotWorthy, he was already in the news declining the degree (how anticlimactic). My news feed was also flooded by a “I’m against conferring an honorary degree…etc.” template. Years ago this would have been a chain text (pass to five friends and your dream will come true!). Some cried he wasn’t worthy while others, after the customary tirade of ad hominems, cried that he was worthy. UP, after all, boasts the badge of “Honor and Excellence” on its lanyards and baller bands! This was sacrilege (in a secular sense of course). After fomenting rage at the comfort of their twitter feeds, the reactionaries then decided to put up an exhibition in the AS steps. Surely, if these reactionaries raged over bestowing honors on a dead dictator in the LNB, a living one was no exception! A few days after the incident, the rage, and the protests, what do we have? Business as usual and a messy news feed.
The whole event passed over Manila like rain clouds – stopping by to pour, and then shuffling off into the sunset. But what struck me was how it struck my fellow schoolmates’ sense of honor and excellence. Here’s a question I’ve been mulling over since my freshman year: is there even a place for excellence in our halls these days? And I mean it: excellence as virtue – the practice of virtues. Once upon a time, people argued over the question of “WHAT IS GOOD?”. Once upon a time, when Aristotle wrote that the supreme good as acting rationally in accordance with virtue, a.k.a. excellence, areté. Now ask anyone what areté is and they’ll likely say it’s just that building under construction in AdMU. Once upon a time people knew the weight of the word excellence, and now as Jack Nicholson said in A Few Good Men we “use it as a punchline!”
Uncontroversial: that’s the word I could use to describe the events of #DuterteNotWorthy. It’s not uncommon in law school to have a few students just slipping through the cracks here and there to graduate. Some who deserve to pass fail and some who deserve to fail pass. It almost feels like living in a Homeric epic where profs, the mythical gods, hold our lives and balance our fates on their crooked scales. Yet we must believe, if only to create a fiction, that those who get the degree worthy. Life, after all, has many fictions. For example, one of them is that we all know the law in Article 3 of the Civil Code, but if everyone knew the law we wouldn’t any lawyers now would we? We live in many fictions – and it’s helpful to tell what are fictional and what are not.
So our very own
Joseph Goebbels Mocha Uson wrote a column lambasting the CBCP’s stance against the current administration in her column in the Philippine Star a few days ago. This one was something, so without further ado let’s take it line by line. Original text in bold, annotations are in italics.
Title: Is CBCP anti-Christ? (Catchy title though)
Christianity is founded on love. It espouses the doctrine of loving thy neighbor, not judging others, and forgiveness. (In two sentences she summarizes the whole of Christian theology. Did you see that St. Thomas?)
However, (uh oh, a ‘however’) the way the Philippine Catholic Church has been acting is the total opposite of what Christianity preaches (Yep because protesting against dictators encapsulates the whole of Church action). It refuses to forgive (Marcos burial issue). (Well, she just had to qualify it. I always thought the Church forgives people though and not issues. After all, issues don’t walk into confessionals, people do.) It judges Duterte but turns a blind eye on the immorality of De Lima. And it divides instead of unites. (Wait…immorality? Did she just judge De Lima right there? That escalated quickly. Since the author cites the Bible verses
when it’s convenient she must know that passage where Christ says he comes not to bring peace but the sword? [Mt 10:34] There’s hardly any credibility at all if the author claims that being divisive is a bad thing given how virtually all protesters are labeled as “yellows.”)
Why is this so? (ok let’s assume for now that all the conclusions you just made are now facts) Ever since the Spanish colonial period (oh she’s a historian now) in the Philippines, the Catholic Church has been a part of the lives of most Filipinos and it has also been very influential in our country. (and that’s how you summarize around 300 years in 32 words) The power of the Catholic Church is one of the things Jose Rizal fought against because the Church was able to use its power and influence in Spain to dictate who should be the Governor General of the Philippines. (Wasn’t Rizal a top student at Ateneo de Manila? He was Jesuit trained and wasn’t he a devout Catholic? And is there even a good source for this conclusion? But hey, let’s just believe her. Whatever.) Because of this they accused Jose Rizal of being a cultist and an enemy who was going against the teachings of the church (or was it rebellion and sedition? Meh, same thing as heresy right?). You should know that back then fighting against the church could cost you your life or you could be excommunicated. (Well she should know too that there’s a book by Reynaldo Ileto called Pasyon and Revolution because, I don’t know, maybe it might actually give the semblance of an idea of how the revolution happened back then. Oh and fighting against dictators can cost you your life too! Too bad dictators can’t make excommunications though.)
One of the notable persons who were excommunicated for fighting against the church was Martin Luther. (so is this theology or history? histology! wait that’s the study of microscopic tissue structures…) He fought against the corrupt practice where people must pay for the forgiveness of their sins and for their soul to go to heaven. (Inaccurate. They don’t pay for the forgiveness of sins. They pay for indulgences, which “is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven…” [See Pope Paul VI’s Indulgentiarum doctrina] because, and the author should have researched more, saying sorry isn’t the end of it: people have to pay it back.) These are just some instances where the Church used its influence and abuse its power. The question now is, did it stop? (Can I make a guess? No?)
Looking back at EDSA 1, which forced the then Pres. Ferdinand Marcos to step down from power, Cardinal Sin (called it!) was one of those who greatly influenced the people and caused the inauguration of Cory Aquino as the 11th President of the Philippines. They (along with our P500 bill) created an image that presented the Aquinos as the savior of our country and therefore the people again trusted and voted Noynoy Aquino as their president and leader in the 2010 election even if he did nothing. (actually if she took time to read our Constitution, ‘doing something’ in general is not required to be qualified for the Presidency. Just saying.) They hoped that Noynoy would save this country once again. So, what would they gain by allying themselves with the Aquinos? Let’s not forget that the church is an organization wherein they have no tax. (Oh, how could we forget?! No tax? Despicable! Well, it’s actually real property tax and qualified revenues that they’re exempt from, not all taxes in general. But yet again, what’s the difference right?) Allegedly, (Congratulations on using ‘allegedly.’ With all those conclusions, here at least there is a semblance of caution with making claims.) they have investments from the oligarchs who are being protected by the Aquinos. In the end, it seems like it’s all about the money. Catholic Church without money is a dying church, (Well that explains it. That’s the reason why the Church had a mountain of gold when it started out as a group composed mainly of Galilean fishermen.) it has lost a lot of followers due to some issues surrounding some of their priests. (Don’t bother with the numbers or reports, we believe you!)
It’s just saddening to see that the church that is supposed to teach unconditional love is encouraging hate and anger toward a dead person. (Aww 😦 ) Yes, the Marcoses should be held liable for the crimes they have allegedly (there’s allegedly again! and how can one be held liable for an alleged crime?? Doesn’t make sense.) committed but that is the job for the government and not the Church’s. (It’s the government’s job to prosecute, there’s no argument against that. But is that the exclusive way to hold one liable for crimes? Surely public censure and assembly are ways to hold people liable too. Since she cites the Bible I wonder how she takes the verse that “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” [Mt 18:18]) The Church’s purpose should be teaching people about love for God and love for one another. (Good grief, have at least some sense of respect for an institution that has been around for nearly 2000 years.) It also says in the Bible, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 john 4:8). Now if the very nature of God is love, (hey, she’s a theologian again) then why does his “messengers” preach the opposite which is hate and forgiving with conditions? (…check…mate?) If they will claim that they’re fighting for what is right, then why don’t they speak against Sen. De Lima and her affair with Ronnie Dayan who is married? (No “alleged” here huh? Well played. I believe you. Not really.) Why do they focus on the inappropriate jokes and remarks of President Duterte? Why do they bring up “Thou shall not kill” with regards to the “EJK” issue but quiet on De Lima’s affair which is against “Thou shall not commit adultery”? (I’m actually impressed she knows the commandments. She should try going on to the 8th.)
Last week, through my blog, I answered a post of a La Salle brother about forgiveness. He said: “FORGIVE THE MARCOSES? But how? They have not admitted to any wrongdoing. They have not returned all that they have stolen. They have not apologized to the victims of their martial rule.”
Now, should forgiveness come with a condition? (If you break a window and say sorry without fixing it. Is that really an apology? If you’re really sorry then you FIX the window. So the answer is yes. Authentic contrition requires restitution. I don’t know if she’s ever been in a confessional but I’d really like to know how she interprets the penance at the end. Well unless in her world, it’s really ok to break windows and say sorry while leaving the owners to clean up the mess left behind. Haha ok I’m convinced. Let’s go with that world!) If I ask you, do we have to wait for our enemies to ask for forgiveness before we forgive them? I believe that the answer is in Matthew 6: 14-15: “14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15: But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (I thought the issue was whether we should wait. The passage cited was the effects of forgiveness, not whether we should wait for an apology. Oh well.). If Jesus himself can forgive his enemies and even asked his Father “forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”…if Jesus himself can forgive regardless of whether they asked for it or not, then who are we to deny that to our enemies? (Oh I highly doubt that Marcos didn’t know what he was doing.)
In conclusion, it is also written in the scriptures that there are wolves in sheep’s clothing (“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. Mt 7:15”). (Ok I remember that part) They claim to be messengers of God but they are teaching hate, rebellion and self-interest. (Er…that part I don’t remember) It is clearly stated that these False Prophets who have the spirit of anti-Christ are pretenders to be light and teaching things that are opposite of the teachings of Christ. (Is it stated clearly enough for a quotation? Guess not.) The question is: if the False Prophets preach hate and rebellion and not love, what does the CBCP and some other priests teach? Love, forgiveness, or hate? (Ok she just called the CBCP false prophets and titled her column asking if the CBCP is the anti-Christ. Seriously, if there’s any hatemonger here it’s the author who presumes to know more about Church teaching than the Church herself.)
Looking back I don’t think there was any added value in making this blog entry. I might have wasted a few hours in an afternoon but hey let’s say this is my fair comment on matters of public interest.
So many things have happened recently that have caused such a backlash: starting from Grace Poe’s citizenship case, Duterte’s victory, Trump’s victory, and Marcos being buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. If only the reactions were just as interesting. One day you have protests on the streets and the next you see some of the same protestors hitting it up at Starbucks. At times I think maybe Zizek was right in saying that all this action – online or otherwise – is just an acting out, not for the crowd, but for the actors. And as always, I rely on a passage from Chesterton on this topic of rebels:
But the new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. . . . As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. . . . The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything. (Orthodoxy)
So: reactions are just uninteresting because the reactors are not that interesting in themselves. Sure we can hate on Trump and Duterte for being this and that…and so we’re pro-manners? Then there’s that familiar adage that goes “just because I’m anti-X, doesn’t mean I’m pro-Y.” While it’s logic is sound, but wholly uninteresting and at times makes someone really come off as a prick. Likewise, does being anti-misogyny make you pro-equality? Or let’s just assume it since nobody bothers to bring it up (why would anyone be anti-equality anyway?). It would have been more fascinating if rebels these days actually had a creed – now that would be something. But maybe we millenials aren’t hip enough to be Apostles.
Having nothing (specific) to stand for places some doubt on why should certain issues be of particular importance. Are we faced battling a multitude of pro-X’s and anti-Y’s? Is this just part of the trendy arena of identity politics taking over discourse today? In this sense, maybe Fight Club is prophetic: