We are a people of dialogue. As such we have the moral obligation to search for the truth in freedom, the truth about God, about life, about ourselves, our country, our society, our world and the events around us.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Looking at the Balanced Picture

To the outside world the Philippines is pictured as Abu Sayaff country where Moro kidnappers roam around freely; it is the most corrupt country in Asia; it is a country where journalists are being murdered; it is a country where a simmering discontent is claimed by a group of anti-government rallyists which include even religious leaders.

Is this picture true? Are the ragtag groups of kidnappers really swarming all over the cities and the countryside? Are embassy advisories correct when they warn tourists that they are not safe here? Are journalists really being gunned down everywhere? Is it true that the present government cannot do anything for the people especially the poor? Is this anti-government sentiment really brewing throughout the archipelago?

If the picture were true and factual, this country would have been destroyed a long time ago. Law and order would have broken down. Anarchy and chaos would have gripped the populace. In other words the process of fragmentation in this picture has accelerated and has slowed down the process of unification—good has been overcome by evil.

One does not need to be a political expert to know this picture is not complete, is not true at all. The picture is false. For one thing, what is happening in the capital region is made to appear as happening everywhere else as though it is the microcosm of the entire country; what is regional is very often claimed to be national in scope. The fault of some government officials is made to appear as the fault of everyone in the administration. It seems the Philippines is being deliberately likened to Sodom and Gomorra, ready to be destroyed because there is not one individual who fears God.

There is no doubt about the presence of kidnappers, terrorists, criminals, corrupt officials, summary killings, drug addicts, gunrunners, et al in our midst. There is no doubt about the existence of injustice, corruption, crimes and immoral behavior as well as violence around the country. All that is part of the present reality which everyone must be aware of and must be concerned about.

There is another reality seldom talked about and mentioned in media, a reality that could complete the picture. This is the good that is being done everywhere in our country by millions of good people, good institutions, good groups, good associations, good government officials and personnel, and good young people who take the future of this country seriously. They are the answer to the depressing picture presented by the doomsayers of this country, people who think hopelessness and despair prevail nationwide.
I believe that if the picture is presented in a balanced way—that is, if the total reality of the social, political, economic, cultural and religious situation of our country is made to appear clearly—there are many things that we can be happy and grateful about. We can then see that many good and positive things are being undertaken; that the development and progress both of the body and spirit of the human community is going on; that the processes of unification out number and surpass the processes of fragmentation; that evil is being overcome by good.

The bright side of the total reality constitutes, to my mind, the seeds of hope which “springs eternal in the human breast.” Presenting this side of the total reality will generate interest in many sectors and individuals to unite and set in motion the process of eradicating the dark side. This is one of the objectives of the Church’s ministry of Social Communications. If an incomplete and false picture of our country has been painted worldwide through the use of modern information technology, we followers of Jesus Christ can use the same technology to serve the Truth. As John Paul II says in his message for World Communications Day entitled The Communications Media: At the Service of Understanding Among Peoples— “Modern technology places at our disposal unprecedented possibilities for good, for spreading the truth of our salvation in Jesus Christ and for fostering harmony and reconciliation… Indeed, the media have enormous potential for promoting peace and building bridges between peoples, breaking the fatal cycle of violence, reprisal, and fresh violence…”

In our struggle for peace and unity through forgiveness, healing and reconciliation, let us be strengthened by our faith in God’s justice and mercy, taking to heart the words of St. Paul: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom 12:21)

Archbishop of Davao
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference

May 15, 2005