HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Doing peace and reconciliation (PAR) ministry in the Philippines in 2017 is like sailing across the ocean. The government’s map is not complete. There are no clear signposts for peace. There are no permanent landmarks on human security. The geo-political horizon is an ever-changing body of water. We navigate through the global economy in the midst of huge and turbulent waves.
Let’s reflect on some basic navigational stuff that effective explorers always remember: the true north, reliable compass, accurate map, and an intelligent assessment of the horizon.
:: Our true north is loving and worshiping the Creator. PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) is all about setting our being and direction towards worshiping the Creator. This is the constant among the many variables of our journey into the uncertainties of 2017. This is where our peace and reconciliation ministry starts—to love and to worship the Creator.
To love the Creator is the core of the Great Commandment and the foundation of the biblical system of ethics: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Mt. 22:37-40)
To worship the Creator is to submit our being, our will, our affections, and our actions before God. To worship also means to serve, to exert sacred efforts motivated by love. Worship and service are two sides of the same coin.
PeaceBuilders Community is a vessel formed for this ultimate purpose of loving and worshiping the Creator. We pray that all our words and actions be governed by our attitude of unconditional love and humble worship. This is what we mean by harmony with the Creator. This is what we mean by spiritual transformation.
:: Our compass is the awareness of our being. The Creator designed us to be human beings. Not ‘human doing’. Not ‘human having’. But ‘human being’. I am a human being. You are a human being. Heart. Soul. Mind. We are capable of relating and harmonizing—with the Creator, with our being, with others, with the creation. This is the very basis why reconciliation with ourselves is possible. Despite our brokenness, we are capable of bringing peace and harmony within our humanity. By allowing the Holy Wind to move us where the Creator wants us to be, we’ll find our being in a healing zone, capable of reestablishing friendly relations with this most intimate person we refer to as ‘self’.
As the compass points us to love and to worship the Creator, along the way, we will find peace and reconciliation within us as we sail through the ocean of uncertainties. And when we allow the healing presence of the Holy Wind to flow in and through us, then we will find peace and reconciliation with other broken beings around us. This is how we have been created. This is how we have been designed. This is what we mean by harmony with our being. This is what we mean by psychosocial transformation.
:: Our map is our relationship with others. Because of the differences in our worldviews, value systems, and behavior patterns, conflicts are inevitable! And since we cannot avoid conflicts, it’s easy for our humanity to get lost in a sea of opposing perspectives of social reality and differing views of political systems.
Since the creation, we have been designed to be relational beings. We were not designed to be alone: “It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Gen. 2:18) Our individuality is affirmed by our community, and our community is enriched by each individuality. It’s not either the individual or the community. It’s both the individual and the community. We are individuals-in-community. This is basic in understanding human society.
As individuals-in-community, we were designed by the Creator to respect each other. Respect is necessary especially as the society seeks to share wealth and power among the members. For power and wealth to be shared with respect, there must be truth, mercy, justice, and peace. These are the standards for running a polis or a city. Truth, mercy, justice, and peace characterize good politics. These paradoxical energizers of good governance will help us locate our being human among other human beings in a given social context.
A relationship that is characterized by truth, mercy, justice, and peace is our map in navigating through waves of historical injustices, abuse of power, and systemic corruption. This kind of relational approach with the other is our map as we seek to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is harmony with others. This is sociopolitical transformation.
:: Our view of the horizon is the oikos–creation. As individuals-in-community, we are designed to share and were placed in an oikos or ‘house’ we refer to as Earth. We share the same planet—land, sea, mountain, river, valley. We share one Eco. The Creator designed us to be a part of this huge and complex system called ‘ecology’. The Creator designed that our needs and sustainability will be provided as we responsibly care for and nourish the oikos-resources around us. This is the stewardship of our ‘economy’.
We are confronted with the realities of economic greed and ecological devastation. We will face these realities with our balanced, stewardship-oriented oikos-perspective. We are praying with Jesus: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt. 6:10). Through the eyes of Jesus, we see the planet Earth as under the rule of the Creator, characterized by justice and peace. A planet that is cared for with the ethical values of justice and peace will be transformed into paradise. This is our faith. This our hope.
This is our understanding of harmony with creation. This is our understanding of economic-ecological transformation.
With the above navigational guidelines in our hearts and minds, and being consistent with our ethical values:
- let us continue to be the leaders and field workers we describe and prescribe in our PAR teachings;
- let us hang on to our long-term vision of initiating PAR communities in each of the 81 provinces in our country;
- let us continue to identify with the poor as we pray, work, and talk our way towards peace and reconciliation in our land;
- let us walk along with, and move forward with, those who are seeking radical transformation and liberation of this land.