THERE is a true and very important saying that we all need to listen to and learn from: “There is no peace when there is no justice.” The truth of this is seen and felt by thousands of people around the world and people never forget the injustices that they have suffered. Hurt and pain are the realities that we humans carry with us through out our lives. Much of it happens in families and in school and children are scared for life. They suffer much more when they are victims of sexual and physical abuse and torture.
Rejection, exclusion, abuse and hurt feelings of childhood shape and mold the characters of every person. Some cope with it and survive and live with it. Others are crippled emotionally and psychologically and many suffer depression and some take their own lives. Other children are even murdered on live videos to please international pedophiles. Are we going to continue allowing this?
Abused children carry the memories into late adult life because as children they are unable to challenge and confront their abusers to demand justice. The culture of ignoring the individual personality and rights of children is part of this injustice. The children can grow up with a grudge, a desire for justice, anger at being denied it and turn to revenge seeking and even violence. When whole communities are degraded, oppressed and exploited they become angry and seek redress through demonstrations, riots and protest. This leads to inevitable confrontation and violence. Others seek justice in the courts but their complaints are frequently dismissed.
The individual child can become an angry violent person when abused and denied justice. Perhaps that’s why thousands of young people are flooding to Syria to become fighters and join the ISIS. Perhaps they see it as a way to take bloody revenge on the world they have come to hate.
Prior to the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, there were few laws to fully protect the rights of children or treat them as individual persons in their own right. The high status given to a child in the Gospel values were generally ignored for 2000 years. Since the approval of Convention all member states had to draft their laws based on the convention document.
But are those laws really and wholeheartedly implemented and beneficial to children? In the Philippines, experience shows that mostly they are not. Police, prosecutors, judges are more favorable to the abusers than to the children. More accused child abusers and rapists are allowed to go free than are convicted.
The reasons are many: corruption, bribery, favoritism, and no belief in the law, the incompetence of police, prosecutors, and judges add to the failure.
For all this there are good honest hardworking judges for the most part that take pride in doing justice. The good judges restore people’s trust and respect in the judicial process but they are all too few.
Children cannot and should not be made to wait years for justice. Justice based on clear evidence is essential for healing. Children get witness fatigue, despair of getting justice, when there are many postponements and manipulations and cheating to contend with.
Lawyers working for the accused get paid per hearing plus a retainer fee. It’s in their interest to prolong the case, earn more money and hope to win by wearing down the will of the victim so she will give up and the rapist can get away with the crimes.
Then same impotent child protection laws are allegedly ignored. The telecommunications companies are allegedly not complying with the anti-child pornography law of 2009. They have made no statement of compliance with the law. This law, RA 9775, explicitly orders the Internet Server Providers (ISP’s) to install software to block the transmission of child porn images and cyber-sex where children are forced to do sexual acts live on camera sent through the Internet to paying customers in other cities or countries. Criminal pedophiles pay to watch the children being abused and raped. Some order that they be tortured and killed.
The National Telecommunication Commission officials are apparently looking the other way. Perhaps even looking at the child pornography, why else don’t they implement the law? The owners and shareholders of the biggest company PLDT can be found on the Internet. They are allegedly technically likewise violators of the law like most of the top 100 child pornographers who are Filipinos and US Nationals.
Victims of child pornography should file charges against the telecommunication companies and individual stockholders that violate the law. If it is being obeyed the victims and their families would not be suffering.
Now we see the likely result of this connivance and collusion between big business and government officials. Horrific crimes against children are being done and continue daily over the Internet. The filters have not been deployed or installed as the law requires. The Internet Watch Foundation can prove that. Child and adult pornography is available to children daily on their pads and cell phones.
The dirty work of Australian Peter Scully and his local helpers was possible because of uncontrolled Internet access. They made videos of a screaming 18 month old child being tortured and murdered. You need to be of strong heart if you watch this.
The horrific videos were sold in the USA and EU countries. Is this a civilized country? Is Christianity dead? Is the Philippines a morally failed state? Why can this happen openly and uncontrolled? The answer is insatiable greed and the lust for money, pleasure and power. The authorities have vital questions to answer and all of us must challenge politicians and corporations everywhere and act to end such crimes and do justice for the children.
Holy Week 2015. What brought about the shameful torture, humiliation and excruciating execution, as a criminal on a Roman cross is what we need to ask and answer everyday not just during Holy Week.
Hundreds of thousands of true Christians around the world suffer persecution, torture and death these days because they are disciples of Jesus of Nazareth and put into practice his spiritual values that give meaning to life itself.
Why is there such opposition to a message, a way of life that espouses love of the outcast, freedom, human rights and dignity, equality and the defense of children and a better life for the poor and the oppressed people of this world?
The Man who was called by some a great prophet who had come back to life, a wonder worker, a spiritual teacher, a man of compassion, a peace-maker, a defender of children and women and a social revolutionary brought these values into the world by his simplicity of life and his living out of these values.
He was welcomed into the capital Jerusalem one sunny April morning two thousand years ago by adoring crowds waving palm branches who were inspired by his teaching, healing and prophetic voice for the poor and the downtrodden. He stood with the marginalized outcasts and victims of social injustice. He was a hero and inspirational spiritual leader that day and everyday since.
The man from Nazareth was far ahead of his time, in fact ahead of all time. He said simply that he was a Son of Man. One who was just like everyone else, but ready to serve and help anyone in need. He was a man without power and influence, had no servants or slaves and one who even washed the feet of his students and followers as an example for us all. The people said he was a Son of God and a descendent of the great king David.
Perhaps the combination of these titles, their political overtones and the widespread belief that he would take political power in Jerusalem fueled the fears of the ruling powers that there would be a popular uprising to declare Jesus King of the Jews. That title was mockingly nailed to his cross, the instrument of execution.
When his disciples aired these sentiments and asked for big jobs in his supposed new Kingdom of God he rejected their suppositions and told them that he was amazed that he was with them a long time and still they didn’t understand his mission. It was not a political movement he wanted but a moral revolution of the heart whereby goodness and love for everyone and by everyone would dominate.
In the new social relationship universal goodness, equality and justice would pervade the community and there would be an end to violence, rejection and exclusion.
A most profound vision and an ideal world that may never be, yet one that is worth striving for in our own faith communities. The ideals are for everyone, disciples or not, Christian or not.
We all need to love and be loved as Jesus taught and practiced. His words to his friends at his farewell meal echo today when he says the greatest love we can have is to sacrifice ourselves for others. That’s is today giving and not taking from a community, a family, a friendship. It means the well off are challenged to give back and share their wealth. It means bringing goodness to the needy and the vulnerable. Of course his message was challenging and many left him.
It was his fiery challenging message to the hypocritical corrupt authorities, the cheating traders and unjust judges of his day that aroused hatred, anger and fear among these rich elite. They ruled with gross indifference to the plight of the poor. Jesus called them stinking sepulchers, painted white outside but full of dead bones inside. That was strong language indeed.
His words are as true today as they were then. A similar social and economic situation prevails today in many developing countries. Particularly in the Catholic Philippines where the powerful 140 or so super rich families and their cronies in Congress and the military and police rule the 100 million people with a benign smile and a machine gun in gift wrapping.
They control the many by the tactics of the few. Immediate assassination, imprisonment and execution of the modern day prophets, the human right workers, media practitioners, the social activists, oppositionists, priests and pastors.
Just like the man from Nazareth they are risking all, their good reputation, their name, their family, even life itself. They are working and calling for true justice and respect for human rights and the ouster of the corrupt politicians and judges and prosecutors. They get charged with wrongful accusations, baseless allegations and legal cases to destroy their credibility and smother their cry for justice. They want the kingdom of Jesus to be real and present in order to end the human trafficking, jailing of children, sex tourism, and the disgusting coddling of criminals, child abusers and rapists.
So after the first exciting public arrival of the messenger of God to the city where he was a marked man and his every word and act was noted, they used these against him in false accusations, to trip him and block his mission and bring him down in disgrace. They shamefully succeeded only too well, but only for a while. His words and presence lived on, his life lit up the world and set it on fire with idealism for the kingdom and today it is still there for us. We only have to reach out and embrace that same mission and do our share to change the world and ourselves.
Parents want their kids to be successful. This is the reason why parents make sacrifices. They work hard, save money and send their kids to schools with astronomical tuition fees, hoping for the best.
You and I want to be successful. Just take a look at the number of books with the word “success” written on their covers. I consulted my reliable researcher named Google and in just 0.35 seconds, it gave me some 1,110,000,000 articles and references with the word “success”.
But before anything else, what is success?
Some people equate success with being happy and fulfilled. This makes them feel “successful”. Others acquired the dreams they dreamt in their younger years. This makes them feel “successful” as well. For others, success is an award of distinction, a title, a position of influence. Some people define success based on themselves, some let the society define success for them.
Are there general principles that could accurately measure whether a person is truly successful or not?
Let’s take a look at money.
Motivational speaker and writer Zig Ziglar’s line on money is my favorite. He says, “Money isn’t everything... but it ranks right up there with oxygen.” All throughout the history of mankind, the pursuit of money is high on the list of those who want to be successful. And so success in this aspect may be objectively measured by the amount of money one has.
“The more money you have, the better you can be.” This is taught in the privacy of the home, and children are being trained to pursue it.
But the funny and amazing thing about this is that those who achieved this have written books, wrote articles and warned the rest of us that this never delivered the kind of “success” they longed for.
Accumulated money comes with a cost.
Please don’t get me wrong. Money is moral neutral. It is a tool. It is an instrument. The more you have, the more secure you feel.
Most people misquote the Scriptures when they say that “Money is the root of all evil.” This does not even make sense. If you look closely, the Bible teaches that it is the “love of money” that is the root of all evil. I am sure you know some people who are head over heels in love with it. On the funny side, Mark Twain said, “The lack of money is the root of all evil.” And maybe he is right. The pursuit of money is not a bad thing. How you pursue it is the issue.
Now let’s take a look at power.
There are people I know who think power is the most important “success ingredient” to achieve because money comes hand in hand with it.
Again, money is moral neutral as you can use it for good or for personal gain. Power can come either in a political form or simple influence. It is fine as long as you use it for the good and it delivers happiness. This can already make you feel “successful”.
And then some people equate success with happiness and their concept of happiness is closely associated with pleasure. Happiness is so elusive. Happiness could not be pursued because it is simply a byproduct of living a godly life.
How about relationships?
We are not designed to live in isolation. We are constantly involved in relationships, whether superficial or intimate. Unhealthy relationships zap our energy as these relationships really make our emotions go haywire.
What about health? What about our relationship with God? A vibrant relationship with God is something that every happy person I know has.
Is this success? Which one is it? Just like the answer to a student’s favorite type of quiz, the answer is “all of the above.” Success should be holistic.
The thing with success is that you don’t really arrive at success. You wrestle with it, you spar with it. Sometimes, you get it. Many times, you don’t so you continue.
Rather than thinking about success, think about progress.
Personal growth should be intentional.
We continue to achieve growth in every area: finance, health, influence, accomplishments and relationships. Here is the key, be a channel of blessings to others, serve and help others succeed. This is when happiness comes and a sense of meaning permeates the entire being.
True success deals with all areas of your life and the life that goes beyond this one in this planet. The Scriptures say, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” Nothing, DUH!