COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
One Thursday afternoon I accompanied a friend to attend mass at the RedemptoristChurch. During the homily, a statement made by the priest stuck me like it never struck before: “Our redemption is paid by a great price – the death of Jesus Christ.”
Since childhood, I’ve been hearing similar phrases over and over again; that Christ died for us, that His death set us free, that our sins were washed by His blood, and that we are saved by the cross. It was only that afternoon did it strike me that the more we cannot understand God if we try to humanize Christ.
Death is a human experience and signifies the ultimate loss of what one would like to preserve in life. So that any act of dying for some humanitarian reason is considered a noble act. To give life that is only lived once is deemed as the ultimate of sacrifice, hence, considered a great price. But Christ being of God and therefore immortal would not make much ado about dying. What I would consider to be a more sacrificial act was his birth; to become a man.
The first point that I would like to consider here is, understanding God from a human perspective. Corollary to this is seeing something foreign with a native eye. This has been a cause for misinterpretation and misrepresentation of events. Now after that great redemption act, we perceive that we can likewise be redeemed by following the pattern – seeing something foreign with a native eye and interpreting the foreign element in our own terms.
Take for example having a nose lift to get that Caucasian bone structure and using Block and White, or any other skin whitening preparation, to acquire that fair skin. We end up neither-nor; neither looking like an American (or any Caucasian for that matter), nor looking like a Filipino. That might appear to be a superficial aspect of our national life but the pharmaceutical companies are raking millions by feeding on that defect in the national psyche.
What is un-redeeming in this phenomenon is the perennial un-acceptance of ourselves – despised like perpetual sinners – and in order to be saved, we have to be like the Americans, the Japanese, and the Thais, among others. We unconsciously aim to be anything else except to be a Filipino; in thought, words, and in deeds.
The second point that I would like to make is the transformation process; God became man so that man will become like God as exemplified by Christ. Again, this concept of becoming like the other by taking a foreign element and incorporating it in our own is shown as a way to salvation. Unwittingly, this pattern has been adopted in problem solving, program planning, and project implementation.
In the agrarian problem, the peasants looked up to China, embracing communism and adopting the Maoist line in the hope of liberating themselves from economic oppression. The government initially responded with rural development as counter-insurgency, copying Green Revolution from China to push for agrarian reform. Masagana 99 was patterned after the Puebla Project in Mexico while the other succeeding socio-economic development programs were patterned either from this country and that.
There wouldn’t have been much of a waste had we not tried to rise up and act according to foreign standards. But more often than not, the programs that were implemented, government-initiated or otherwise were easily ejected, like square pegs placed on round holes. Always, there is this difficulty in engagement.
Maybe there is a need for us to evaluate our way of thinking. For even merely at copying, still we copy the wrong thing.