I remember one occasion when I was with a group that went for a first-time journey to a new beach resort in my home province not long ago. During the trip, every once in a while someone in his/her excitement would ask, “How far are we yet?” But at some point along the way, the excitement of the group was interrupted when all of a sudden our driver made an emergency stop to respond to the call of nature. We were not sure what took our driver so long in the middle of the thick corn field, but while waiting for him, one of us got anxious and asked, “Just where exactly are we already?”
In some way, perhaps these same questions will linger in our minds when we consider the situation that our nation is currently in. In our “journey” as a nation – maybe less due to anxiety but more of a self-evaluation – it would be of help to have some answers to those two questions.
But did you notice that in order to be able to answer the question, “How far are we yet?” it is necessary to answer first the question, “Where exactly are we already?” because how can we tell how far we are yet from our destination if we do not know where exactly we are already in the journey.
But before proceeding any further, pause for a while and try to ponder for some answers to the questions. There may be many answers as there are minds that are willing to help the nation in its journey.
The other week, the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Manila issued a pastoral statement entitled “Towards A Morally Rebuilt Nation”. In their collective contemplation, the Bishops likened our nation to the nation of Israel when they passed through different places and situations in their journey towards their promised land.
Following their metaphor, the comparison goes something like this: As the crossing of the Read Sea marked the Israelites’ freedom from the bondage of Egypt, in like manner the “People Power” of 1986 marked the Filipinos’ freedom from the bondage of a corrupt dictatorial regime.
Continuing with the metaphor, the comparison goes something like this: But the Israelites grew impatient of the desert experience that followed after the Red Sea crossing and they longed for Egypt. They returned to the old sinful ways of the past and made themselves a golden calf to worship as their god.
At this point of the metaphor, an extended comparison for our nation would go something like this: On the other hand, we Filipinos grew complacent with our desert experience (the long transitional period which consisted of a series of change in administrations that followed after the 1986 “People Power”) and we fall back to the same old sinful ways before. It did not took us too long before we return back into corrupting our electoral system through various electoral frauds – from vote selling and vote buying to various forms of cheating of election results.
These brought the curse back upon us, and as a result, dishonest leaders (from the lowest level to the highest) who are products of our very own corrupted electoral process got installed election after election. They abused the power of their respective offices that they got themselves involved in various forms of corruption, so much so that we the people were forced to return also to the old “convenient ways of the streets” over and over again.
Now, we find ourselves back into struggling with the same old stubborn monster of corruption that we once had defeated before – but which we now have resurrected yet once again.
And this exactly is where we are right now in our “journey” as a nation. We are stuck in the desert of transformation paralyzed and unable to advance to the next place of our journey because we have fallen in an upside down position into the quicksand of denial and unrepentance – the head portion of our nation’s body is the part that sunk in the sand. Any wrong move we make to rescue ourselves (such as extra-constitutional means, unlawful actions, immoral maneuvers, etc.) will only cause us to sink even deeper.
How deep have we sunk? As deep as the depth of the unwillingness of the people involved in various corruptions to repent and put things right with God. Added to it is the depth of the unwillingness of the rest of the people of the nation to repent from their own individual dishonesty in their everyday lives – especially during elections.
How long could we stay buried upside down in this quicksand? The longer the truth is suppressed by means of cover-up, stone-walling, delaying, or distortion of truth by various government agencies and institutions, the longer the nation stays buried. One factor that adds to it is the apathy and indifference of so many of the people in helping solve the crisis. Another additional factor is the false sympathy and the opportunistic loyalty (that traditional politics of patronage had caused) of the rest of the people toward those who are part of the problem.
So, how far really are we yet from our true destination?
According to the Bible, from Egypt to the Promised Land would only take a few days of normal travel. Yet why did it took dozens of years for the Israelites to travel? Well, the complete answer is in the Bible (do the homework).
What about us Filipinos, is it 40 years already since our freedom from bondage?