I Write

Cold Decay

This country is at the brink of societal decay – this does not refer to the constant clamor on graft and corruption by politicians, or the ever-growing economic crisis.  Judicial lingo and economic jargon has never been my area of expertise.  Although such should be of great concern to every Juan and Maria, it seems to me a circumstance beyond control.

I talk about an apathetic coldness that has befallen this nation which is slowly freezing our hearts cold.  I see it through the gazes and glances – the cynical and suspicious looks.  The gestures – an impersonal stare, a defensive stance.  Never-theless, if it is yet unclear to you what I am referring to, take these as illustrations.

Let’s talk about what most of us do on a day-to-day basis – riding a jeepney to work!  I suppose nothing else best reflects (or at least relatively reflects) the Manila street life than a ride on the “king of the road”.

In the jeepney’s interior is a conglomeration of people – a sample of the Filipino population.  Some are too passive, seemingly unaffected by the hubbub of the busy traffic, taking micro naps, oblivious of the fact that they are nearly falling off their seats.  And here I am, thinking that they are merely headbanging to a silent tune.

Yet, what really bothers me are those who position themselves in the very familiar “pa-sideview” as if resting on a couch at home, coldly ignoring others who only have an inch of sitting space.  How they manage to forget  about  kindness for their own comfort is such an unnerving thought.

Then someone from the back says, “Ma, bayad po.” (Here’s my fare, mister driver.)

Silence.  Nobody hears a word. 

Again, “Ma, bayad po.”

Hmm, my initial  diagnosis  is that Filipinos have a selective hearing deficiency. 

“Makisuyo nga po ng bayad,” (Please pass the fare) he says it louder this time. 

At last someone  snaps  out  of the Parkinson-like rigidity and heavily, slowly, takes the “bayad” and passes it on.  It isn’t really a hearing deficiency at all! 

Final diagnosis: Extremely overweight arms resulting to slow motion and poor reflexes.

I say “para po” and step out.  While walking, I see a middle-aged woman accidentally slightly bump onto someone – emphasis, SLIGHTLY.  “Oops, sorry po,” the middle-aged woman says.  Expecting to hear an “it’s ok” or see a forgiving smile from the other party, I’m startled to see a piercing and angry glare, as if her pet dog was just murdered.

Whew!  I wonder when exactly did people become so rude and unloving, thinking only of our own selves, disregarding the 2nd greatest mandate ordered by the ultimate Judge – to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  I am then reminded that this cradle of humanity is never becoming better, a dire and irreversible consequence of sin. 

Matthew 24:12 states, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”  The Bible is never wrong and I believe that this country, along with the rest of the world, is geared in that direction.

Yet there still are a few good souls around – the man who says “para daw po” when the driver can’t hear you the first time.  Then there’s this taxi driver who greets “good morning” to every passenger who steps in, or the considerate lady in the bus who lets the woman carrying a child sit first.  When I see these kinds of individuals, the first thing that comes to mind is, “Hey, he or she must be a Christian!”

That is what Christians are for…ideally.  WE are the salt of the earth.  In a world that is in the verge of rotting, we are the preservatives.  When everybody else is so cold and dry, we are the flavoring.

And so my fellow believers, let us not lose heart or lose our hearts for that matter.  When everyone else seems so cold, let the love of our Lord flow out to others to warm their hearts

Cold Decay. (2006, July). KOINONIA (A quarterly newsletter of Fellowship Center Baptist Church)

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