Tuesday, January 16, 2018
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Commentary

Difficult but necessary: change within us

The most significant constant in the universe is change. The constancy of change is what has propelled the universe since the beginning of time. The triumph of evolution depends on change, the ability of life and all of creation to adjust to circumstances necessary for survival.

Change is defined by a flurry of attachments and detachments—birth, death and rebirth, a continuous cycle of adaptations, each cycle a progression of the one before it. Civilizations rise and fall, to be replaced by new ones, new beginnings that draw lessons from its predecessors for a better and more workable system.

Natural occurrences like earthquakes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves and tornados are nature’s way of changing the face of the earth to maintain a sustainable balance for life and Mother Earth’s survival. In his book “God in the Midst of Change,” social psychologist Diemuid O’Murchu claims that these natural calamities are imperatives for evolution, that “there is a quantity and quality of destruction inherent in evolution at every time and in every cultural context.” Some say tsunamis and earthquakes are necessary for a recycling of the earth’s debris.

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When human evolution reached a state of behavioral modernity some 50,000 years ago, humans distinguished themselves from other primates of an earlier evolutionary cycle.

Homo sapiens became capable of more complex intellectual activities like the invention of language, art, music, even myths and religion.  In the course of human interaction in villages and communities, people set up customs and traditions, designed precepts and beliefs to establish a culture.

We are now into a culture steeped in customs and traditions, religious beliefs, art, music, science and technology and other intellectual developments peculiar to our region.  These have all undergone changes throughout history, referred to as paradigm shifts.

There are changes that many choose voluntarily—for example, those that deal with new concepts of beauty like bigger breasts, thicker lips, plumper buttocks, multicolored tresses; lifestyles like larger mansions, more expensive cars, swimming pools, personal jet planes, etc.; the desire for more and more, never reaching a point of satiation. These are superficial changes that satisfy the ego and thwart the development of a deeper self-awareness and the expansion of consciousness. As a consequence, physical changes have advanced ahead in the evolutionary cycle, leaving behind its concomitant partner—the reflective inner awareness.

The current playing field of change for many of the rich and famous, and those who have become rich and infamous through devious means, is on the superficial level that breeds a culture of greed, selfishness, a callous indifference to the plight of the billions who have less than three meals a day. I often wonder why we have evolved into a corrupt, uncaring mass, insensitive to the plight of the oppressed, landless, homeless millions, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and abusive of our natural resources. History is rich in prophets who proclaimed the primacy of love, compassion and generosity, lessons we could have prioritized as a way of life but instead have pushed to the background in favor of formal religions that emphasize praise and adoration for a God who has no need for them.

We have been indoctrinated in a religion of fear, so that our tenets and religious practices receive the most resistance to change. The god we perceive is steeped in anthropomorphism, much of which we adapted from previous religions with ramifications to suit our concepts of a god’s nature. Because our precepts give us a sense of belonging, and a feeling of security, we have become so attached to them as to make it difficult and often impossible for a paradigm shift to occur.

The emphasis of Jesus’ teachings was food for the hungry, land for the landless, home for the homeless, cure for the sick, justice for the oppressed. It is astonishing that such simplicity in a message of divine love could have escalated into the complexity of organized religions with ornate churches and the pomp and circumstance of royalty. Not only in Christianity but in other religions as well, like Islam, whose prophet Mohammed taught love, compassion and generosity but whose followers advocate wars and killings in his name.

In the heart of Malibay, a depressed area in Pasay City, Fr. Prudenciano Dexter has set up “St. Hannibal Di Francia Empowerment Center.” His program—addressed to the area’s informal settlers—is focused on housing, livelihood, values formation, health, justice and peace, environmental management, education and youth formation. He has so far built 500 houses for the homeless in Malibay, and, to provide income for them, is into farming, poultry, piggery and soap-making, which he set up in various regions where generous donors had donated land. The residents sell the produce and get commissions, which they use for their living expenses including the mortgage on their individual units. Father Dexter calls his foundation “The Kingdom of God.” It truly is God’s kingdom.

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By far the most difficult, though necessary, change is the change within us—our hate, biases, sense of self, dishonesty, selfishness, that separate us from one another. Change in this instance requires a great deal of determination and sacrifice, but if we are to survive, if not prevent, an impending collapse of our civilization, it is imperative that change happen within our core. We must adjust to a sense of connectedness, a longing for oneness with all of creation, Mother Earth and the cosmic consciousness, which, according to Chardin, is a prerequisite of our divine destiny—the omega point.

Carmelita Roxas Natividad describes herself as a retired mother and active grandmother who likes to write, garden, and bake, in that order.

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