NOWADAYS, the first thought that almost always comes to mind when I wake up is a short prayer: “Thank you, Lord, for the gift of life!!!”
I am awake! I am alive! Hello world!
Perhaps it is because I have read yet again of another school shooting in the USA. Or perhaps, I am just appalled by the police-military mow down in Atimonan, Quezon. The incident, dubbed Atimonan 13, made collateral damage of 12 people in the police pursuit of alleged jueteng operator, Victor Siman, the 13th victim in this carnage on Maharlika Highway.
In a “1996-2012 Timeline of Worldwide School and Mass Shootings,” Pearson Education, Inc. records a total of 80 school shootings: 63 in the USA, 3 in Germany, 2 in Canada, 2 in Finland, and the rest in Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, France, Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, Sweden and Yemen. The Philippines is thankfully spared from being a statistic on this particular timeline.
We do, however, have our share of senseless slaughters. In Wikipedia’s List of Massacres in the Philippines, the two most recent are the Hacienda Luisita massacre of Nov. 16, 2004 killing 7 people and the Maguindanao massacre of Nov. 23, 2009 killing 58, including journalists and innocent bystanders. Obviously, no one has updated Wiki on the Aug. 23, 2010 Luneta hostage crisis, which resulted in the tragic loss of 8 lives.
Just how does this generation value life?
The perpetrators of the Hacienda Luisita and Maguindanao massacres clearly chose temporal and political power over life. The mother of Adam Lanza, the kid who massacred 20 students and 6 teachers in Sandy Hook Elementary School established a pattern of death by hoarding a cache of deadly weapons and putting it within easy reach of her disturbed son. Rubout or “salvage” operations glorify instant death and wholesale execution over due process of law and respect for life.
The question even begs: At what point does the serviceability of plastic bags eclipse the toxic effects of non-biodegradability? At what point does a woman terminate a pregnancy in exchange for a better quality of life? At what point does a mugger eliminate a victim in order to pocket a cell phone?
The pervasive culture of choosing death over life is modern man’s greatest temptation because it often provides the easiest and most efficient solutions to our increasingly complicated and perpetually-challenged 21st century lives.
An alternative is raised in Robert Frost’s iconic poem on choice. Entitled, ”The Road Not Taken,” the lone traveler chooses the road “less traveled by” knowing the difficulties and sacrifices it would entail. But to him, it made all the difference.
The difference between a life well-lived and a life overshadowed by darkness.
This week, Cebu celebrates Sinulog, a novena of thanksgiving for a year of blessings and a time for renewing our journey of faith anchored on Senyor Santo Niño.
The elemental “Sinulog Dance” follows as a dance of life as it imitates the ebb and flow of a mighty river whose flowing waters give life to our community. It culminates in the ultimate Dance Tribute to the Child Jesus, who is the true Source of Life.
To embrace a culture of life in acknowledgment of God as our true Source of Life is the very essence of Sinulog.