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Random Thoughts: Love of country

“Usapang, maitindig natin ang bantayog ng ating lipunan, kailangang radikal nating baguhin hindi lamang ang ating mga institusyon kundi maging an gating pag-iisip at pamumuhay. Kailangan, ang rebolusyon hindi lamang sa panlabas kundi lalo na sa panloob.” (Apolinario Mabini, La Revolucion Filipina, 1898).

-oOo-

IF I’m not mistaken, this is also what our Muslim brothers and sisters call “inner Jihad”. And our number enemy in “inner Jihad” or “Rebolusyon Panloob” is our own self. Noted Filipino writer F. Sionil Jose explained: “We have a real and insidious enemy that we must vanquish, and this enemy is worse than the intransigence of any foreign power. We are our own enemy. And we must have the courage and the will to change ourselves.”

Filipinos now, in general, have LOST their love of country. In many seminars we have conducted and participated in since the later part of the 20th century, our country was very seldom mentioned among the list of priorities of Filipino participants! How sad.

No wonder, corruption continues to wreak havoc every year in our nation. Undoubtedly, our lost love of country breeds corruption and our worsening culture of corruption spell lost love of country. Clearly, to effectively fight corruption in our midst is to recover our lost patriotism. Thus, the imperative of patriotism revival in our country is crystal clear.

To do this, Filipinos must first have full understanding of what LOVE is. Love is defined by Webster as a “passionate affection”. God is love and love is God. Obviously, love is pure, clean and good. Thus, anything unpure, dirty and bad can never be love. Love is more of giving rather than receiving. The logic of love is sacrifice. Its opposite is hate.

The three kinds of love are 1) Eros meaning romantic love, 2) Filian means love between relatives, friends or neighbors and 3) Agape is about love of God or unconditional love.

Hence, when we talk of love of country, we simply mean our readiness to sacrifice for our country. Love of country was epitomized by former US President John F. Kennedy when he said: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country!”

Why should we love our country? Simple. When you place in your birth certificate that you are a Filipino or a citizen of the Philippines, then it becomes your duty and obligation to love, promote and protect the welfare of your Motherland-your bigger family. In the same vein, when you are baptized as a Catholic, then you belong to this religious organization and concomitantly assumed duties and obligations to the Catholic Church.

Mabini very well explained it: “If there is no country as such or as you know and recognize, then in your mind you must give it its boundaries. Do this because without this country you are nothing. This land where you stand, from which you draw sustenance is the Mother you deny. It’s to her where your thoughts will even if you refuse to think so, for this is where you were born, where your loved ones live and where in all probability you will die. We will love her, protect her, all of us – Bisaya, Tagalog, Ilokano, so many islands, so many tribes – because if we act as one, we will be strong, and so will she be. I am not asking that you love Filipinas, I am asking you to do what, is right, to do what is your duty.”

Many of our national heroes sacrificed their lives for our country. Rizal could have avoided being killed by the Spaniards by migrating to Germany. But he did not do that. Filipinos badly needed him and he stayed ready to die for our country. Our Lord Jesus so love us that He shed his blood to save us. Dying for your loved one is the greatest expression of love. “Ang mamatay ng dahil sa iyo.”

To compound our problem of lost love of country is our distorted sense vis-à-vis the right hierarchy of love. Filipinos now, due to our overly family centeredness, erroneously rank love of family above love of country. Thus, when there is a conflict between family’s interest and our country’s interest, great majority of Filipinos wrongful pursue the interest of their family over and above the interest of our country. No doubt, such attitude breeds corruption, among other sins. For example, unscrupulous politicians steal people’s money to fund the needs of their own family. Filipinos nowadays have difficulty to think beyond their own family!

The right hierarchy of love is 1) Love of God, 2) Love of Country, 3) Love of Family. What is our basis on saying so? The Word of God is our main basis. My second basis was our school’s teachings then. Our teachers then during the fifties stressed this right hierarchy by telling us to memorize: “For God, Country and Family!”

When our Lord Jesus was asked: “Which of the 10 Commandments is the most important?”, our Lord Jesus replied: “Love God with all your being. But there is another one connected to this. Also love your neighbor as you love yourself.” God said “neighbor” not family. Neighbor means our bigger family, not our immediate family. Our bigger family may be our purok, barangay, town, city, province, country and the humankind. Clearly, the interests of our country prevails over the interests of our immediate family.

“Pag walang pagmamahal sa bayan, lalakas ng husto ang korupsyon sa bansa. Pag lumakas ang korupsyon sa bayan, lalawak ng husto ang kahirapan sa bansa. Pag lumawak ang kahirapan sa bayan, kakalat ang gulo sa bansa. Ibalik ang pagmamahal sa bayan, babalik ang katahimikan sa bansa.” This is a clear but challenging solution. Let’s have the courage to take the first giant step in the right direction. Let’s bring back love of country to the hearts and minds of Filipinos.

In this coming midterm elections, show your love of country by voting wisely. Don’t buy or sell vote for this is a sin to God and to our country!

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