Amidst all the merry-making, karaoke, greetings, hugs, kisses and exchanging of gifts. There’s always this subtle significance about Christmas apart from its religious roots and in the person of Jesus Christ, who was born around AD 28–29 or befittingly at 1BC and was known to be the son of man who performed several miracles and then willfully sacrificed himself to the cross to save the sins of mankind.
Many people merely see Christmas as more of like a ”family-only celebration” and onerously refer to an opportunity to reunite distant family members and spend the Christmas evening together. Or is it the perfect time to bring out our extravagant Christmas decors to impress our neighbors with scathing displays of wealth.
But where does ”Christ” fit in all of this?
Believe me. I am not a very religious person, but I do go to Church on Sundays and I pray to the divine Diety for protection and care. But most of all – I do believe that our faith in God should not only rooted in our expectations of blessings, but of course must be rooted in our understanding of humanity and the ultimate concern not only of our neighbors but also our countrymen and the world at large.
For the past several years. Many people who could have been happily spending their Christmas with their families today, these are mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. Ordinary people who lived ordinary lives with mostly living under abject poverty under the rusty roof and creaking wooden walls of their homes, deep in the slums.
But now they are gone. And did you know why? They have been mercilessly butchered by Duterte’s Death Squads. They are no longer treated as people with individual stories of hope, courage and love, but rather a blotted ink on a death certificate. Or perhaps, merely a pixel on a television news flash showing the numbers of people killed by Duterte’s Drug War.
They are but numbers of bodies. Whose deaf bullet-shattered skulls had borne witness to the soulless impunity of man against man. Their families could only cry helplessly as the government continues its policy of mass-slaughter notwithstanding International condemnation of their actions.
While many Filipinos continued to resist and heavily protested against Duterte and his policies. Many were still swooned in his populist charm with of course a boon of the mantra conveying iron-fist politics. The safest political beliefs in the Philippines right now is NOT to interfere nor condemn the killings or be suspected as drug-dealers or drug-addicts.
People were legitimately scared of Duterte’s Death Squads. Most people I know would tell me that it’s best to be a Duterte Supporter to save yourself from all the mass slaughter happening around or even suspicions of being a drug-lord or user. It seems that the foreboding word of ”Tokhang” permeates deep in our national sense of consciousness invoking fear and awe to the wielder of such unruly powers of killing anyone.
With this many people supporting the instigator of mass-slaughter of their neighbors and countrymen that is Duterte. Many even wished harm to human-rights defenders and activists to in order to simply defend their political idol Duterte.
And yet, this is the same people who now bragged about praying during the Christmas eve, attending dawn masses and even flaunting all of their Christmassy activities in social-media to show that their Christmas is so traditionally well-spent. But is it?
If Christmas is about the birth of Christ. The son of man, a human-being and of course apart from his Godly origins, has in fact been one humanity’s greatest human rights defender.
He died on the cross after gruelling torture and unfair trial unwittingly supported by the majority (though his crucifixion were already foretold according to the scriptures) but verify the entire story of his crucifixion was indeed an example of a flawed justice system.
We ”Christians” who celebrated his birth must also come to realize the importance of human-rights and the core teachings of Jesus Christ about the evils of killing innocent lives.
To be more specific. The teachings of Jesus tell us Christians to treat each other equally. This is because life is sacred and in the eyes of God everyone is equal. Christians should always remember the sanctity of life.
The teaching that ‘life is God given’. (Genesis 1:27). As a result of this ‘All life deserves respect’. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Not respecting a life would be similar to not respecting God. As God went to so much trouble to create life it would be wrong to destroy it, so ‘Life should not be destroyed’. (Exodus 20.13). It should also not be destroyed because ‘Human life is precious’. (Luke 12:6-7). As human life is so sacred, Jesus teaches to ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself’. (Mathew 22:39). This means that Christians should treat others the way that they would want to be treated themselves. Christians should try to love the unlovable, which is agape. Agape is Christian love and is when people should love one another and treat each other equally, no matter who they are. Help others to ensure that they are not being denied of their human rights so that one day if they themselves are put in a similar situation people will try to help them.
We should all have more empathy and heartfelt acceptance of anything. We must open up our minds and our hearts, even if our beliefs and convictions were contradictory. Celebrating Christmas and following Christ footsteps as not only the Saviour of mankind, but also to emulate his teachings for being one of the greatest human-rights defender in history.