What a Good Friday
March to March, 13 months, and another Good Friday. This Good Friday, however, is like a summary of the whole month, like some unlucky Friday the 13th rather than a highlight of a major religious remembrance.
March 2020 to March 2021, first base and back to first base, but not yet a full circle because we do not see the ending yet. A pandemic came upon us, is still upon us. No one spared, everyone disrupted.
Thirteen months of abundant lessons characterized the March-to-March period, yet it is as though we learned nothing. Why else are where we began, but worse? It took months from March 2020 to reach a peak in Covid infections last year. This March, we began by breaking records and no one has a clear idea when this will end without strict lockdowns. Even with lockdowns, no one is clear how long that should be in order to dramatically put us at safer infection levels.
We are now down to vaccines as our only hope, or so we are told. Other than vaccines, our health authorities cannot prescribe medicines to prevent and to cure, except a few that also just a few can afford. Even then, with the most expensive medicines that most Filipinos cannot afford to buy anyway, many rich and high-profile personalities have not survived Covid-19.
In the United States whose health and science agencies are like the biblical prophets to our own FDA and Dept. of Health, over 500,000 Americans have died. They have all of the medicines that are approved and that many of them can afford, but none saved them the deaths of over half a million. If the Philippines were to look for available medicine to protect effectively and/or cure us against Covid-19, it seems not just strange but stupid to depend on the knowledge of a country with the most infections and deaths in the world.
But, alas, beggars can’t be choosers, too. In the war against Covid-19, we have been bereft of our own wisdom from experience. We have simply depended on begging for instructions from foreign health institutions, too poor in mind and determination to draw insights from domestic experience. I may be too harsh in my critical assessment of our FDA and DOH leaderships because this beggar posture is not limited to them. Still, we are in a health crisis and they have badly failed.
It would be comical if not outright exasperating to read at this time that DOH believes two weeks of strict lockdown may not be enough to reverse the Covid-19 infection rates. It highlights the public ineptness of our health department from whom daily the public gets reports on cases of new infections. Why is it that the cases have been on a steady climb for at least two months and for DOH to say now that it may take longer to bring down the pattern? If ordinary Filipinos can see or at least sense the steady climb, where was DOH looking?
And so it is but right that we are inside our Holy Week and peaking our suffering on our Good Friday. If Covid-19 has been our cross, the leaderships of our health agencies must be the equivalent of the soldiers whipping the innocent about to be crucified.
Right now, we are all suffering. Many may not realize that the religious symbolism of Holy Week is not about suffering, it is about sacrifice. When one suffers for no greater cause but just to get through the ups and downs of life, there is no sacrifice there. Sacrifice needs a vision of the prize at the end of the road, the just rewards of tomorrow worthy of enduring pain today.
In the war against Covid-19, we have nothing to sacrifice for, only to suffer for our own survival. That requires nothing from us except to allow the human instinct to survive to take over and hopefully save us. Because no one else can. Except the author of life if such is your faith.
And this has been my realization ever since the pandemic, and not mine alone, for sure. Our salvation comes with sacrifice, not suffering. Even animals suffer, and for what? But man can choose sacrifice, take it, endure it, and keep his sights on a higher purpose promising great rewards not only for self and for all loved ones, too.
Salvation is not out there, not in the heavens, not the superheroes or gods orchestrating the lives of human beings. The salvation is inside us, in our goodness and the divine orientation we carry. If we believe in God, then God must be within, working with us in our hearts and minds. God is not out there planning to defeat Covid-19; He must have long given man the capacity to both survive and grow despite any and all pandemics. How else can vaccines ever be created?
Clarify your dreams. Are they worth suffering for? If they are, then get through the bumbling and fumbling of the DOH but seeing past them to that place where you want to go, where you wish your loved ones can also arrive. Then, fortify your spirit, trust in the divine design, be brave and go for it, and do not beg for crumbs of others for your dream.
Make Good Friday not just a date in the calendar but a reminder of our own goodness, our own greatness. We are afraid of Covid-19, yes, but we have been afraid of other things as well. Yet, we triumphed over our past trials, with our courage and wisdom, not dependent on leaders to lead us to victory.
Am I saying that it is each one, then, must be for oneself? In suffering, yes. But in sacrifice, each one has others to suffer for. And that is what we struggle to remember. That each Good Friday is about sacrifice, not suffering. That each Good Friday leads to a new life, not with suffering but sacrifice.
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