Nagsimula ito ilang araw na ang nakaraan. Pumutok ang balita na papalitan ng Department of Education ang kanilang vision statement from:

By 2030, DepEd is globally recognized for good governance and for developing functionally-literate and God-loving Filipinos.

to:

We dream of Filipinos who passionately love their country and whose values and competencies enable them to realize their full potential and contribute meaningfully to building the nation …

And everyone had an opinion about it. Here’s mine.

The omission of the phrase “God-loving” from the vision statement enraged a LOT of religious groups, figures, and sympathizers. It didn’t take too long before my Facebook Newsfeed was filled verse-ridden, fire-and-brimstone themed posts and comments. May mangilan-ngilang readers/followers/friends ring nagtanong sa akin kung ano ang pananaw ko sa pangyayaring ito, pero dahil I swore off making reactions based on speculations and sheer emotions, it took me a few extra days of thinking before I tried to write this post.

Now, before we dive headfirst into this issue, here are a few disclaimers. I know that by writing this, may ibang taong hindi sasang-ayon sa aking pananaw. Alam ko na may ibang magagalit at babansagan akong pilibustero (wag naman sana pero kebs kung ganoon nga). Alam ko na may ibang mag-aassume na pinariringgan ko sila kahit pa sasabihin ko na wala akong direktang pinatutungkulan. Pero namamayani sa akin ang paniniwala na may kahit gahibla namang mapupulot na aral mula rito at sapat na ito para sa akin.

I’m writing this post especially for people who, like me, claim to follow Christ. I’m writing this because I sincerely believe that this event is a great way for us to showcase how different we are from the religious Pharisees of the Bible. This is the perfect opportunity for us to be more Christ-like, not just through our words, our shirts, or our baller IDs. How we react to this issue will determine kung ano ang magiging kulay ng mga Kristiyano para sa lahat, lalo na sa mga taong hindi katulad natin ang pananampalataya. So, how should we react? Here are two simple suggestions.

1. STOP posting hate- or fear-driven messages online.

Sa mga nabasa kong posts, may dalawang recurring theme. Una ay mga post na punong puno ng paghihimutok sa mga pinuno ng DepEd. Para bang may monopolyo sila ng righteous indignation at ngayon ay sunod-sunod ang binababa nilang Rent cards (Monopoly Deal reference for my fellow gamers out there!). Tanong ko lang po sa inyo, mayroon na ba kayong nakumbinsi na sumama sa church sa pamamagitan ng galit? Don’t you remember that Christianity is a quest towards Christ-likeness and that:

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

Psalm 103:8

Therefore, if we want to be more like Him, we have to keep our anger under control. Wag naman natin pangawitan na anger ang default setting natin when it comes to controversial issues. Wag maging mapanghusga at wag masyadong nagmamalinis. Tandaan natin na ang mga taong ganito ang siyang sumaliwa kay Kristo noong buhay pa siya. Sino ba talaga ang ginagaya at sinusundan mo? Sila o Siya?

Yaman din lamang na pinag-uusapan na natin ang love, ito pa ang isa sa mga paborito kong verses sa Bible:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18

Tigilan rin natin ang pagpopost ng mga pananakot. May nakita akong Facebook post which said, “This is the beginning of the end. End times na talaga! Nakakatakot ang susunod na mga mangyayari.” Then this person proceeded to quote the end times passages in the Bible. There’s another one which alluded to how USA banned prayer and reading of Scripture in schools and paired it with the statement, “kaya pinaparusahan na sila ni Lord.” or “Pag pinagpatuloy yan, magagaya ang mga kabataan natin sa mga kabataan sa US.” It’s posts like these that challenge my integrity about what I just wrote tungkol sa anger. At para mas malinaw, let me take these three common posts on one by one.

  • “End times na talaga!” Bakit ba ang tindi ng fixation ng mga Kristiyano sa doomsday scare tactics? Do you really think it works? By my experience, this “style” does more harm than good. It doesn’t just turn people off. It drives church-grown kids away! Hindi kasi nag-census ang churches after the Y2K scare, or the Backmasking Age, or the Bible Code Era kaya hindi natuto e. Kaya heto nanaman tayo, balik sa end times at Illuminati witch hunting. Stop scaring the kids!
  • “Kaya pinaparusahan sila” o “Baka parusahan din tayo ni Lord!” Any Christian who thinks posts like this make atheists, agnostics, or freethinkers (however they call themselves) go, “Ay! Oo nga! Baka parusahan tayo, sige, maniwala nalang tayo,” are delusional. Well, it’s either that or wala talaga silang karanasan with or kakilalang non-religious people. Another, even sadder, alternative is that they don’t care what the non-religious people think. That is the most un-Christlike of them all. Propagating this belief in God as an angry judge zapping people who say or do something bad should be banned in churches. If your god is like that, then, He is definitely not my God.
  • “Mapapasama ang mga kabataan natin!” Tanong lang po, saang kweba kayo nakatira? Look around! Marami nang mga batang napapasama. Panahon pa nila Adan, may mga kabataan nang napapasama (Ehem! Cain!). Ang paaralan ay pangalawang tahanan lamang ng mga kabataan. Hinihimok ko kayong mag-interview kayo ng mga problemadong kabataan at I bet pareho ang magiging resulta every time. Kadalasang sa bahay o pamilya nag-uugat ang kanilang mga problema. Whether may God-loving sa vision statement ng DepEd o wala, may mga absentee, mabisyo, at makasariling magulang parin. May temptation parin na nakapaligid sa kanila buong araw. Adding that phrase will not solve or prevent these problems, dahil kung ganoon, edi sana ngayon e wala tayo nitong mga problemang ito.

Kaya Kuya o Ate, Nanay o Tatay, kung may naipost ka na na ganitong klaseng comment, pakiusap ko lamang na burahin niyo na ito habang may panahon pa. Don’t turn your Facebook page into an arena kung saan nagtatalo ang mga taong iba’t-iba ang pananaw or a Coliseum kung saan, kasama ng mga taong may pareho mong pananaw, ay pinapalapa ninyo sa leon ang mga iba ang paniniwala.

2. START loving people, online and offline. 

Kung gusto mo talagang may magbago, you have to do something different. We have to be more loving. That is the most Christlike thing that we can do. Love people kahit ano pa ang paniniwala nila. Love them ng walang paghuhusga at walang ulterior motive. I’m not talking about catching flies with honey here, ok? May mga Kristiyano rin kasing nag-babait-baitan tapos pag di sumama sa kanila yung tao e naghihimutok. Wag ganyan. Kung magtanong sila or mag-express ng interest, good. Kung hindi, wag kang parang nabasted na lalaking naniningil ng utang na loob.

Don’t be scared or paranoid of atheists, agnostics, or freethinkers. From my experience, they can be some of the kindest people you’d meet in your life (way better than the hypocrites in church). Be kind and if you can’t do that, at least be tolerant. Now, mayroon rin naman talagang pretentious or aggressive na atheists out there, pero mayroon ring equally as offensive na Christians. Quits lang. Wag ka nang makigulo. Just smile, nod, try to understand what they’re saying, wait until they finish and say, “Can we just agree to disagree?” That usually works for me.

There are better things to do with your time than spread hate. If you really want to help our youth, then actually help them! Paano? Here are a few things you can do:

  • Talk to them. Madalas na dahilan ng STD o PMS o OSY o kung anu-ano pa mang problema ng mga kabataan ang pagiging KSP. Be someone that kids around you can talk to. Something as simple as asking, “Kamusta ka na?” and meaning it can do wonders for attention-deprived kids/teens.
  • Feed them. Simple lang naman ang taste ng mga yan. Fishball o kwek-kwek lang, masaya na. Ano ba naman yung sampung piso, di ba? Kung kaya mo, gawin mo nang McDo! Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Busugin mo sila para naman magkaroon sila ng oras na mangarap.
  • Believe in them. I’m not perfect, pero ilan sa mga moments na hindi ko makakalimutan ay ang mga pagkakataon na people thanked me for believing in them. Some of them pursued and even accomplished dreams that I was too scared to do myself pa nga and I am happy to live vicariously through them. Lumalaki sila sa mundong sinisigaw sa kanila kung gaano sila kawalang-kwenta. May ilang kahit ang mga magulang nila ay hindi sila sinusuportahan. Wag ka nang dumagdag.

Sa aking karanasan, mas marami sa mga atheists ang nanggaling sa simbahan. Hindi mo sila makukumbinsi dahil lamang sa nakasulat sa Bible. May ilan pa ngang kayang-kaya kang i-out-quote ng verses e! Marami sa kanila ang may front row seats sa kung gaano ka-mapanghusga at mapagpanggap ang mga taong simbahan. Kailangan nating matutunang irespeto ang kanilang paniniwala. They have their own journey to take in this life. Your journey isn’t more important than theirs. And if you really believe and trust your God, then you know that He has a perfect plan for all of us.

On issues as controversial as this, Christians (especially pastors) should stop calling for people to take a stand. Instead, start calling for your congregation to go down on their knees. Instead of calling for DepEd to bring “God-loving” back in their vision statement, just BE more God-loving in real life.

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