Harmony in Diversity Breeds Respect and Love
…with Mindanao (Philippines) as a typical case
By Apolinario Villalobos
In the Bible, the Israelites failed their God when they did not follow His instruction to the letter. Instead of annihilating all members of the pagan tribes whose cities they have overran, in some, they allowed the inhabitants to live side by the side with them. Some Israelites even took their women as wives. There was harmony, somehow, although not pleasing in the eyes of their God.
When the Arab and Chinese traders came to the Sulu Archipelago to ply their wares thousands of years ago, they intermarried with the native women, so today, some Tausugs have Chinese and Arab names and the fused cultures are obviously manifested in their physical features. There was harmony, then, for the sake of commerce, but which developed into respect and love that became the foundation of the Sulu Sultanate.
“Conquest” of kingdoms can also be accomplished through intermarriages, such as what happened in Egypt, the Iberian region and Europe. Despite the differences in culture, harmony was developed and bred respect among their royalties, thus, kingdoms were expanded. Still today, some business tycoons, especially, in Asia, have the habit of merging their wealth through marriage. In time, the human “instruments” for the worldly end, somehow develop love for each other.
In Mindanao, Philippines, particularly the Muslim central and southern portions of the island, the migrants from Luzon and Visayas, and the indigenous Muslims live harmoniously in communities as neighbors. Unfortunately, due to politics instigated by greedy desire of the few, animosities developed. Nevertheless, those who are really advocating peace persist in maintaining their warm neighborly relationship founded on love, respect, and lately, tolerance.
There is a story of a couple in which, the wife is from a royal Muslim family, while the husband is an ordinary hardworking Christian. They underwent three marriages – Islamic, Christian and Civil, with the consent of their parents. Their children were not baptized days or weeks after birth, the Christian way, but when they were old enough to choose which faith they preferred. In time, the couple began to raise Christian and Muslim children, but they do not feel any “difference” at all. Today, each of them observes the chosen faith with utmost sincerity in a home that permeates with love.
Lately, the son of a Muslim couple decided to become a Catholic priest. Instead of ostracizing him, the parents prayed over him to strengthen his chosen faith.
Clearly now, the problem in Mindanao is not the difference in faith as despite the diversity, the Mindanaoans are united by love and respect for each other, founded on harmonious relationship. What is happening in Mindanao are the doings of greedy politicians, but hope is not gone from the heart of Mindanaoans who had been longing for autonomy…with God’s help!