Created as one human race – man is like a cross

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By Arnold Van Vugt

The Living Spirit

Thursday, March 13, 2014


IN THE BEGINNING God created the world and in this world there were all kinds of living things. Then He created mankind as one human race. He created Adam and then He created Eve. He said: it is not good that man is alone, he needs to have a companion in life and that was the woman.

Man has a tendency to create a division between him and the other, between ‘me’ and ‘him/her’, between ‘us’ and ‘them’. This causes a tension between them.

In this respect I like to give here two quotations. One is a quotation from Anselm Grün, a German theologian: ‘We are stretched between light and darkness, between God and man, between man and woman, between heights and depths, between good and evil. Man is like a cross’. The cross is the symbol of Christianity. The cross has two arms, horizontal and vertical. Jesus on the Cross embraces all mankind; his Cross was planted in the earth where He was buried after his death. The tension I mentioned earlier is on the horizontal level, between man and man, and on the vertical level, between good and evil. The Cross is the Mystery of our salvation.

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The other quotation is from John Donne, an English theologian who said: ‘Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.’ Patriotism is a virtue, but no Christian conception of humanity can sustain a distinction between an ‘us’ and a ‘them’ when it comes to solidarity, fraternity and compassion. In our society we have political and economic structures. These should not prevent us from acting as one nation. The victims of super typhoon Yolanda deserve to get all our attention and compassion even though the disaster happened on another island away from Mindanao. The secession movement of the Moslems should be a concern for all of us. The economic inequality between the rich and the poor in our country is a scandal that affects all of us. There must not be a distinction between ‘us’ and ‘them’ as Christians. We are all called to be brothers and sisters of each other. We have to struggle against inequality and disunity.

In the Philippines we have many different language groups, Tagalogs, Ilocanos, Bisayans and also many different ethnic groups. There is a tendency to create divisions between them, ‘us’ and ‘them’. There is also a tendency to create divisions between Filipinos and foreigners. Personally I can say that people look at me as a foreigner because I am white. For them all foreigners are Americans. I am not American, I am Dutch and I am not a foreigner because I speak Bisaya fluently. When I go to Manila and take a taxi from the airport I always speak Bisaya to the driver because many taxi drivers in Manila are from the Bisayas. Usually they are surprised and they become very friendly with me because I am one of “them.” They will not drive you around all over the place like many taxi drivers in Manila do because you are a foreigner. Even between Tagalogs and Bisayans there is that tendency to say ‘us’ and “them.” A lawyer told me once that he prefers to attend a Mass in Tagalog or English because he does not feel at home in a Bisayan Mass. Personally I feel more at home in a Bisayan Mass than in an English Mass.

My point here is: we have to be one as a nation. We must accept that we have these feelings of disunity and disloyalty; we must try to live with them. That is our ‘cross’ in life. Man is a cross.

[Email: nolvanvugt@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 13, 2014.

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