No Quick Fix

A messiah, or engaged citizens?
By John J. Carroll, S.J.
Commentary - Philippine Daily Inquirer

...We are being told by editorial writers, columnists and letter writers to the editors that the bishops should take the lead in resolving the national crisis, that the people are confused and waiting for a word of direction from the bishops, that the latter are too timid to take a stand, implicitly that the people are looking for a Messiah to lead them or show them the way.

My impression is that most of those airing these complaints have already made up their own minds on what should be done and are only looking for the bishops to support their positions and call out the people to support them. They are not asking the bishops for direction but for support.

And are the people really confused? Again, my impression is that most are apathetic...

Perhaps the Filipino has for too long been looking for a Messiah who will solve all of the nation’s problems in one stroke. This, despite the fact that the nation has had at least one good and well-intentioned president in the person of Cory Aquino, who was nevertheless unable to clean the “Stygian stables” of corruption or to set the nation’s course firmly in the direction of the common welfare. No, change will not come from the top alone.

Hence, the bishops’ concern for building from the bottom up, while still working for reform, truth and accountability at the national level. We see this in their call for “’circles of discernment” at the grassroots level, in our parishes, basic ecclesial communities, recognized lay organizations and movements, religious institutions, schools, seminaries and universities.

I visualize here groups of citizens, both the local “big people” and the “little people,” meeting regularly to discuss their problems and decide what they can do about them. The problems can range from drugs in the community to water and sanitation to housing or whatever. If local action is not enough, alliances can be forged and support groups built up—to the national level if necessary...

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