Good politics at the service of peace
IN his annual message, during the 52nd year of Peace, Pope Francis dedicated his theme on good politics at the service of peace.
This has a significant importance in our country. A political analyst on President Duterte, Amado Picardal wrote: “What has become obvious is that Duterte is waging a war against the Church.” . . . . “the extrajudicial killings that has reached more than 27,000 victims, [and counting] the unchecked entry of tons of drugs into the country . . . the collapse of the peace process with the NDF” and, we could include, that since the bulk of the national budget is not on education or health but on the military, the beating of the drums for war, certainly goes away from peace. He opines that “Duterte’s war on the Church may (also) be traced to a mixture of fear and anger vis-a-vis the Church which he believes has the capacity to resist him and bring him down.” This mental framework of the present leadership is not for peace but on a dialectics of war even if so far it remains a “war of words”. If this kind of dialectics underlines our political environment, then it would rather serve war rather that peace. This is a very dangerous trend especially that Filipinos seem to be apathetic to what is happening.
This theme “good politics at the service of peace is a challenge” for all Filipinos. “In sending his disciples forth on mission, Jesus told them: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you” (Lk 10:5-6).
Pope Francis explains that: “the “house” of which Jesus speaks is every family, community, country and continent, in all their diversity and history. It is first and foremost each individual person, without distinction or discrimination. But it is also our “common home”: the world in which God has placed us and which we are called to care for and cultivate.
We know that the thirst for power at any price leads to abuses and injustice. Politics is an essential means of building human community and institutions, but when political life is not seen as a form of service to society as a whole, it can become a means of oppression, marginalization and even destruction.
So the Pope reminds that “political office and political responsibility (thus) constantly challenge those called to the service of their country to make every effort to protect those who live there and to create the conditions for a worthy and just future.”
He continues, “if exercised with basic respect for the life, freedom and dignity of persons, political life can indeed become an outstanding form of charity.”
This is not only for politicians however but for all vocations. Pope Benedict XVI noted that “every Christian is called to practice charity in a manner corresponding to his vocation and according to the degree of influence he wields in the pólis… When animated by charity, commitment to the common good has greater worth than a merely secular and political stand would have… Man’s earthly activity, when inspired and sustained by charity, contributes to the building of the universal city of God, which is the goal of the history of the human family”. (Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate (29 June 2009), 7).
In our country “This is a programme on which all politicians, whatever their culture or religion, can agree, if they wish to work together for the good of the human family and to practice those human virtues that sustain all sound political activity: justice, equality, mutual respect, sincerity, honesty, fidelity” Pope Francis suggested.
One could readily see that this is a good framework for those who wanted to run and serve the common good.
On the other hand, in this war against drugs, for example, the Pope gave us an insight that: “peace can never be reduced solely to a balance between power and fear. To threaten others is to lower them to the status of objects and to deny their dignity.” Pope Francis’ words are clear against the tendency to sow fear: “We state once more that an escalation of intimidation, and the uncontrolled proliferation of arms, is contrary to morality and the search for true peace. Terror exerted over those who are most vulnerable contributes to the exile of entire populations who seek a place of peace.”
“There is a need to reaffirm that peace is based on respect for each person, whatever his or her background, on respect for the law and the common good, on respect for the environment entrusted to our care and for the richness of the moral tradition inherited from past generations.”
Our thoughts also turn in a particular way to all those orphaned children currently living in areas of the infamous war against drugs, and to all those who work to defend their rights and take care of them.
Peace is a high ideal but attainable. It “is the fruit of a great political project grounded in the mutual responsibility and interdependence of human beings. But it is also a challenge that demands to be taken up ever anew. It entails a conversion of heart and soul; it is both interior and communal; and it has three inseparable aspects, which the Pope himself enumerated:
– peace with oneself, rejecting inflexibility, anger and impatience; in the words of Saint Francis de Sales, showing “a bit of sweetness towards oneself” in order to offer “a bit of sweetness to others”;
– peace with others: family members, friends, strangers, the poor and the suffering, being unafraid to encounter them and listen to what they have to say;
– peace with all creation, rediscovering the grandeur of God’s gift and our individual and shared responsibility as inhabitants of this world, citizens and builders of the future.”
We end with the so-called “Beatitudes of the Politician”, proposed by Vietnamese Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyễn Vãn Thuận, a faithful witness to the Gospel who died in 2002 which Pope Francis wrote in His message:
Blessed be the politician with a lofty sense and deep understanding of his role.
Blessed be the politician who personally exemplifies credibility.
Blessed be the politician who works for the common good and not his or her own interest.
Blessed be the politician who remains consistent.
Blessed be the politician who works for unity.
Blessed be the politician who works to accomplish radical change.
Blessed be the politician who is capable of listening.
Blessed be the politician who is without fear.
The coming election in our country and those who wished for re-election, in every stage of public life, “is an opportunity to return to the original points of reference that inspire justice and law. One thing is certain: good politics is at the service of peace. It respects and promotes fundamental human rights, which are at the same time mutual obligations, enabling a bond of trust and gratitude to be forged between present and future generations.”