Category Archives: Forgive

Celebrating Diversity

Judging people by physical appearances distracts us from serious issues. As one politician put it, physical appearances can be used as a sign of solidarity with those who share it. By ridiculing politicians for their physical appearance, we elevate them to a moral high ground, even as physical similarities can mask glaring differences between politicians and their constituents. Finally, and more importantly, this kind of “bullying” reinforces a culture that overvalues physical appearance.1

With the 2016 elections less than a year from now, we need to desist from attacks on the physical appearance of politicians. Journalists in particular should be mindful of their power to dignify certain discourses. We cannot be distracted from the more relevant parameters with which to hold politicians to account. We cannot gift them with ‘persecution’ that gives them a moral high ground while it conceals and absolves their moral and legal failings. More importantly, by casting politicians physical features in a negative light, we are perpetuating a culture that over values physical appearance, upholds certain standards of beauty and renders harm to our countrymen who share these features. Indeed, if we are to elevate Philippine politics to a certain measure of dignity, if we are to make people proud and respectful of the ways people look, we must spare the physical appearance of our politicians from ridicule and verbal abuse.1

**Though the piece above is angled on Philippine politics, the typical Filipino’s tendency to judge people by physical appearances goes beyond our politicians. Our intolerance for those who don’t share the same physical qualities (skin color, height, etc.) are monstrously contributory to our stunted growth as a nation. If we want to be more and do more for this country, its high time to put an end to these destructive prejudices.

On culture:
I cannot celebrate independence when I can be so casually told in public that I am less of a Filipino or a person solely because my grandparents were (Chinese) immigrants. Do we subconsciously insist on defining patriotism as an accident of birth instead of a lifetime’s conviction? How can we continually decry mistreatment of Filipinos overseas yet tolerate such vitriol at home?2

**If we want our OFWs to be treated well abroad, don’t you think it’s only fair for us Filipinos to treat expats and Chinese immigrants with the same decency and respect we ardently expect? I would like to live in a country where everyone is welcome. Where there is a sense of community and where an expat can call my country his home. Families, economies and countries thrive because its foreigners (as well as its residents) are able to work together and make their country of residence more prosperous since they first arrived.

On social status:
I’ve also been quite vocal about this with friends: You’re poor? I don’t take it against you You’re rich? I don’t take it against you either. Bottom line, does it really matter? In the grander scheme of things, it’s the heart of the person that counts.

Too idealistic? Not at all. On the contrary, a realist clearly sees what needs to be improved in order to make communication lines easier and effortless, thus laying the ground work for straightforward and uncomplicated relationships (business or otherwise) for us to live better and to a greater degree, thrive.

For quite sometime now, I’ve been practicing going beyond what my eyes can see, and rigidly looking at the character of the person. So far, this methodology of making friends has opened doors for me that I couldn’t have possibly imagined.

I encourage you to be more accepting/tolerant/forgiving of people’s differences, may they be physical appearances, race, culture, religion, social background, etc. In the digital age, the world has become smaller and our neighbors more accessible than ever. As a nation, we have more to gain if we embrace, rather than shun, this reality. There is strength in diversity, if only the Filipino can look beyond himself.

“I can imagine nothing more terrifying than an eternity filled with men who were all the same. The only thing which has made life bearable…has been the diversity of creatures on the surface of the globe.”
― T.H. White

References:
1 Philippine Daily Inquirer. ‘The politics of physical appearance’. Gideon Lasco, June 15 2015.
2 Philippine Daily Inquirer, Opinion. Sisyphus’ Lament, ‘Anti-Chinese-Filipino slurs are visible’. Oscar Franklin Tan. @oscarfbtan

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To Forgive is to Give

As the saying goes, we cannot choose our family.

Loving and giving are Christmas components. Although we say that everyday should be Christmas, it is never easy to be loving and giving especially to individuals who continue to push the wrong buttons, rub us the wrong way or have a whole different value system compared to ours.

But sometimes, we fail to realize that if they are a work in progress, so are we! It is really a (physical) conscious effort on our end to embrace diversity, and be loving (and forgiving) particularly to people we don’t see eye to eye with.

To fore-give is to give grace ahead of time and grace undeserved, hence forgiving is giving: forgiving a parent, forgiving a sibling, forgiving a spouse, forgiving a friend, and even the grace of forgiving one’s self.

We may not have the ability of choosing our parents, family or present circumstances, but we have the ability of choosing forgiveness either of past pain or of future hurts, simply because we value the person more. Despite the many flaws of the relationship, we value the hidden heart of the person.

This may be the last Christmas I will be spending with my grandmother before I loose her completely to Alzheimer’s disease but I am thankful that I got to see her in her prime and had the opportunity to see the person she has become: a gentle, kind and happy soul who has never failed to smile at life’s setbacks while embracing with open arms her severely flawed children and grandchildren. The ability to fore-give and be gentle is courage in itself. My grandmother is the warrior woman personified.

As we hold our breaths in anticipation and celebrate another Christmas with ‘strangers’ we can barely stand, it is the mere act of forgiveness that makes us ‘family’.

Thank you Grammy for teaching me this not through words, but through your life.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!