LIVING IN THE MIDST OF VARIOUS FAITHS AND ETHICS
By Apolinario Villalobos
Personally, I believe that there can be harmony in diversity for as long as the relationship is founded on tolerance, understanding and compassion. One manifestation of this harmony is the celebration of Christmas even by non-Christians, and I have observed this in the Islamic Center in Quiapo (Manila) where many Muslim homes display Christmas tree during December. When I was in high school, many non-Christians students were proudly sporting the school uniform of our parochial Catholic school.
Tolerance begets respect and understanding. Such attitude is devoid of selfishness and egoism. A feeling of superiority is also not harbored in the heart. With tolerance, members of the community do not pay attention to which church their neighbors go on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Respect, though, should be shown to the utmost, especially, on the aspect of diet, so that in a culturally and religiously diversified community, restaurant owners take the pain of gluing on conspicuous space of the wall a notice about their food being “halal”.
A former classmate based in our province intoned during our cellphone conversation about his having a “personal God” which he claims does not drive him away from the faith of his birth. It is just that, by maintaining this kind of belief, he can be more tolerant about others’ faith. It is like saying, “leave me alone with my God and I will leave you with yours”. According to him, what spoils religions and sects is their being “institutionalized” which makes each of them competitive, as they vie for expanded membership. Along that line, it cannot be avoided that religions and sects would be compared with each other, so that prospective members can “choose” which is “better” or “best”…..and that is when trouble develops. An unsolicited advice is for these groups not to be too loud about their faith and just show their best “angle” by being tolerant and being nice to others.
On the other hand, if the government is not too conscious of the issue on separation between the State and the Church, somehow, there will be harmony. It is true that it is provided in the Law of the Land, the Constitution, but why not give a chance to the “unwritten rules” dictated by the heart and common sense? For instance, as the various religious communities have more viability as regards morality which goes with spirituality, their strength can prop up the effort of the government in building up the welfare of the Filipino youth.
As regards the youth, there are many “homes” administered by the religious groups and most of them are in dire need of financial and material support. Meanwhile, the social workers who work in the government facilities are limited on what they learned from books. If molding of the youth is the issue, there is a need to inject a spiritual element in this effort and the lay social workers cannot do that, but only the religious people. The youth cannot be considered successfully developed if their spiritual foundation which has got to do with morality is weak and crumbling that may eventually result to their becoming disgraceful citizens of the nation.
There was a time when the miserable situation of the young detainees in a local government rehabilitation facility was exposed. Such disclosure was underscored by the misuse of budget as it was found out that the detainees were not fed properly. In this regard, lay administrators do not give a damn if they are found to be irresponsible as they have ways to avoid prosecution of the earthly court. On the other hand, the religious people may think twice before misbehaving as part of their guidance is about suffering in hell if they exploit their fellow creatures!