AS WE move into the depths of our observance of the Holy Week, we need to include in our prayers the future of our country. Some may think that our pieties have nothing to do with our collective realities. However, unless we live what we believe beyond our personal piety, we’ll never experience genuine faith. Faith after all, is an integrated virtue. Its effects should be concrete in the integration of our entire personhood. It must integrate our personal prayers and choices with those who we love and pray with as a Church.
We need to be reminded that God’s salvation was not for a specific individual. It was humanity in its collectivity that was the subject of the Divine’s redemptive act. And although there is always individual effort involved in the salvation of souls, this is not without connection to what is expected of us in relation to our fellowmen.
When applied to the current state of our politics, it is important to be reminded that like faith, politics is a communal activity. This is something many have forgotten especially with the reduction of civil and political rights to mere expressions of individualism. But as Pope Francis remind us in Fratelli Tutti:
“Individualism does not make us more free, more equal, more fraternal. The mere sum of individual interests is not capable of generating a better world for the whole human family. Nor can it save us from the many ills that are now increasingly globalized. Radical individualism is a virus that is extremely difficult to eliminate, for it is clever.”
Quite ironic that the “demos” (people) of democracy have been forgotten. Often buried in the noise of individualistic expressions like “it is my choice” and “respect my opinion.” Indeed, it is important to value the count of each person’s vote and respect every individual’s voice. However, this is more of a means rather than an end. The “telos” or the end of democracy is the “common good.” This is not the same with the good of the ruling party or the state understood in fascist terms as the dictator himself. The common good contemplates things and persons in light of higher principles and virtues.
On the other hand, we must also be worried with political slogans and propaganda that seek to promote national interests at the expense of human dignity and social justice. We see this in many creeping dictatorships or authoritarian regimes. At first, themes like “change” and “for the masses” are used as the attractions.
For people who are desperate to receive even crumbs for the sake of survival, giving in to the promises is an irresistible temptation. But we must be wary of whatever political promise because even virtues like “unity” can be used for ideological ends.
Precisely why Pope Francis, again, reminds us: “a concept of popular and national unity influenced by various ideologies is creating new forms of selfishness and a loss of the social sense under the guise of defending national interests.”
The breaking of the bread on Holy Thursday should make us remember that more than the bread that we desire for everyone, it is solidarity that will truly make us survive even the most challenging hunger. And if only we would think for one another, we would find ways to share what we have. But this does not just mean being charitable and philanthropically. We need to think with and for those who may not be as fortunate as we are.
This may mean making political choices that are beneficial not just to us but those who are in society’s most disadvantaged sectors.