Gain that makes the difference

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By Arnold Van Vugt

The Living Spirit

Sunday, June 22, 2014


A GOOD life for everyone in society is a dream of Catholic social teaching. It is a basic right of all people in the world and in society to have a good life. It is also the responsibility of everyone to cooperate with each other for the realization of the so-called bonum commune, the common good.

A good life starts with the individual together with his environment: his family and the community where he lives. On that level the first gain is made. When I speak of gain I don’t mean an economic or financial gain, but a gain in terms of better living conditions. To realize something of that better life. Then we are dealing with matters of human dignity, togetherness, equality, friendship. Or more concretely to live together peacefully and with tolerance, respect for people and their communities, their religion, concern for victims of domestic and sexual violence, children who have grown up with a trauma in their life.

I believe there are many more of these children than we are aware of. Other problems in society are a more equitable distribution of available land, more social skills in conflict resolving, better schooling, improvement of the position of women, etc.

This enumeration is by far not complete. We may not be able to achieve the above mentioned results in economic terms, no financial gain, no result in investments or financial returns. Of course, we want to achieve as many as possible concrete results, but the results of peaceful living together and mutual respect and better positions of women cannot be measured in numbers and figures. But they are shown in the stories we hear from different communities, their projects in the community. It is exactly this gain that makes the big difference. It is the gain of a better life, the gain of a good life. In the long run this is a much higher return.

Personally I have experienced in my family the problem of children who have grown up with a trauma in their life. They have lost their father when they were still very young. Their father was killed in a political conflict with the NPA during the martial law years.

Some have hardly known their father. I myself was only a stepfather to them. It has caused a trauma in their life which has formed an obstacle for a proper maturing process. For some the privilege of a real good life was never realized until now.

My wife and I are looking for the help of a professional therapist who can give them counseling toward a better life. I have observed also that children easily get traumatized when their father is working abroad and is away from them for a longer time.

A normal family should live together as a family and, as our tradition says, should pray together.

People who have assisted others and have contributed to enable people and their communities to realize the good life, I believe with whole my heart, that they have contributed to a better world.

I believe that the Good Tidings of the Gospel in this way will take shape in the world. That is the gain which really makes the difference. I wish everyone of us this good life and I hope that life will be good for all of us.

Cardinal Tagle at a forum in Quezon City over the weekend emphasized again the importance of charity works and social ministry in our Christian communities.

The Cardinal said: “Why is it that when we ask for ministers for human rights, people say, ‘that is dangerous.’And when we ask for volunteers for the environment, they say, ‘that is a dirty job,’ you will step on a lot of big toes. Please I appeal to you… keep social ministry, social apostolate and public affairs alive in our parishes.” Let us follow the advice of the good Cardinal.

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[Email: nolvanvugt@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on June 22, 2014.

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