Viewpoint

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Reader reaction to Viewpoint’s “Persisting Massacre” (Inquirer, 12/18/12) flooded in. This column sought to provide context for today’s reproductive health bill controversy. The “Massacre of the Innocents” in Bethlehem, Auschwitz’s gassing of children, high infant mortality rates here, and Connecticut’s carnage of 20 kids aged six to seven were cited.

“When a terrifying event happens, like Sandy Hook, people try in individual ways to make sense of the senseless,” Angioline Loredo e-mailed from New York. “Evil is real,” British writer William Somerset Maugham once wrote. “To ignore it is childish” but to “bewail it [is] senseless.”

The United States is now considering stricter gun laws. There is a lot more we Filipinos can do to address the “persisting massacre” here that Viewpoint refers to, namely, the unconscionably high infant and maternal death rates due to thousands of underground abortions.

When Filipinos talk about doing good, donating money or goods is usually meant. Recipients do appreciate that. But many have to be persuaded that maybe the kindest thing is the gift of themselves, especially for children.

“Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty,” writer Anne Herbert suggested. “We have, for example, this children advocacy group in a small town in Iloilo. The ‘hardest’ part, we’ve discovered, is to popularize the concept that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’—the idea that we are all in this together.

“We have argued—and continue to—that the children in our immediate neighborhood or town, nay, the very planet we live in, are all our children. And therefore we have a vested interest in raising them well.

“Often, we do not share our time and energy. This is not due to selfishness, but more because of timidity. We think what we can give does not matter. Yet, that little will make a difference, especially for a vulnerable child. Maybe that is where we should start—stop being timid and flex our imagination.”

“About half of 3.4 million pregnancies are unintended,” Viewpoint reports. “Does this means that natural contraception is not working?” Tarikan asked. “Withdrawal, rhythm, abstention are very difficult to maintain? Those who made these 1.7 million unintended pregnancies possible will go to hell then, if we are to believe some Catholic bishops.”

“A society that pegs the worth of a man on his credit card will betray the poor,” says Viewpoint. But hasn’t that been the case from the earliest days of Christianity? asks Walter Paul Komarnicki from Cagayan de Oro.

Recall that James lashed at the deferential treatment shown those in rich apparel and dismissive treatment for those in shabby clothes.  “Man judges by appearance, mostly, and not with the eyes of grace. Even within families, not all are treated equally. You just have to observe the behavior of the upwardly mobile against that of the downwardly mobile—or the outcast and illegitimate.”

“The culture of guns does not [exist] only in the US,” Buninay e-mailed. Look at what happened in Maguindanao—more than 50 victims deep-sixed by armed thugs who did the political warlords’ bidding. How this culture of guns can be eradicated is a big challenge. From a very young age, children are exposed to guns as harmless toys. But these pave the way for real versions later as adults.

Authorities should expunge these toys from the market. But they were reared in the same culture, they find nothing wrong. So, do we wait for another burst of gunfire?

Indeed, “our school administrators must take a second look at how their security rules operate in their respective schools,” T2JR wrote. “Herod did not have guns,” added Farmer po.

“For as long as the majority of citizens allow the government to be run by self-serving elites, the same hardship will persist,” wrote Irons1043. “They are same-same: profiteers, whether armed goons of the Philippine Military Academy or self-seekers from UP, Ateneo or La Salle. They cause our perdition.”

These comments on Philippine “elites” reminded us of a Viewpoint column titled “Padlocked hearts.” Written four Christmases back (Inquirer, 12/18/08), it said: “The Caesars, Herods and Scrooges never left.” We have a carousel of names. Instead of sundry high officials, it is now Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino embroiled in jueteng.

Eduardo Cojuangco pocketed San Miguel shares bought with the coconut levy on small farmers, thanks to Arroyo Supreme Court justices. That guarantees him a slot among padlocked hearts in Christmases yet to come.

“Then and now, it is still the poor who bear the brunt.” One recalls a Grade One teacher who checked why a child was crouching below her desk. She didn’t want us to see her eat her breakfast of green papaya soaked in salt and vinegar.

You bump into this vulnerable child everywhere. Christmas time, they emerge as the bottle-cap brigade—grimy kids who whack bottle-cap tambourines at street corners to cadge a peso or two.

The richest Filipinos consume 37 centavos out of every peso. The poorest make do with two centavos. As a result, chronic hunger opens floodgates to debilitating diseases. The incidence of TB here is quadruple that of Malaysia. Dismantling political dynasties is a must.

“The birth of Jesus is not a fairy tale to warm the heart,” we read. “Time is measured by this event… It is also about a nonnegotiable challenge to clean up our self-centered lives and build some justice.”

(E-mail: juan_mercado77@yahoo.com.)

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