By DR. FLORANGEL ROSARIO BRAID
Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid
We have yet to realize the full impact of Covid-19. But what we have gone through in the past two and a half months is nothing like what we had experienced before. And I am speaking like many of my fellow octogenarians who survived World War II, martial law, the “parliament of the streets,” and the People Power Revolution. All these events in our historical past had engendered feelings of anxiety, fear, dislocation, a sense of hopelessness, and had inflicted pain, disruptions, and other forms of upheavals as well. But this time we are fighting an invisible enemy which knows no social class, age, gender, or race.
Each one of us has a story to tell and share as well a common realization which is that life will never be the same. Ed Garcia, a fellow framer of the 1987 Constitution, professor, and author of several books, shares his reflection, a most compelling one, and which can only come from a person with an unusual perception and a deepened consciousness. In his writings, and other forms of discourse, he exudes passion and conviction. Because you know that what he says is congruent with his thoughts and actions. For this man who once led a mission for Amnesty International in post-conflict Colombia has indeed seen some of the worst conflicts in the world. He notes in this book, “Defiant Hope” that he had “witnessed the brutality of war in Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Burundi, Ruwanda, and Colombia,” some of the hottest spots in the world that had experienced protracted civil war, including drug wars, and that he had experienced the “tragedy of ‘broken-ness’ of frayed relationships, the inability to attain distant dreams, but yet, are given people who have embraced us, touched our lives, and nurtured us.”
Documentary filmmaker Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, describes Ed in this light:“Only surrender can make you feel in charge. Only faith can be your oxygen. Only hope can give you pure joy. Ed has seen and experienced too much human rights violations, fought countless number of human rights violations, and violators who never seem to get the point, but he has never lost hope.”
I have dwelt lengthily on the author’s psyche and worldview as these could help us understand what drives him, and why his writings resonate with many, especially peacemakers and peacebuilders.
He addresses four groups in this book of four parts – “Citizens, Stand your Ground!” “Scholar-Athletes, Be Brave, and Be Kind!”; “People in the Line of Fire, Keep Strong!” “People of Courage, Keep Hope Alive!”
In Part II, he focuses on the young people whose qualities are those needed during the present crises.
Let me share some of his thoughts and what he believes are critical guidelines in life’s journey:
- Courage trumps fear.
- We must learn to trust one another. We must find ways to bridge the physical distance by our capacity to care and reach out by all means, real and virtual.
- Dawn comes after the darkest night.
- Hope believes that together we can build a future that is newer and better.
- Those over 60 are identified as most vulnerable. Yet, it is precisely because of their age, that they have not been afraid to make sacrifices.
- It is time to reset our mindsets. To question our priorities and think through the way we have organized the world without. The task is to transform life-threatening risks into opportunities for rebirth, reform, and renewal that will move us, re-imagine our world beyond to create the future that our children deserve.
- There is dignity in work, even among those considered as the lowest of ranks.
- We need servant leaders who would listen and serve.
Solidarity, courage, and hope – these three themes, he says were part of the causes he had pursued throughout his lifetime. In his Epilogue, he admits the “uncertain outcome of this unprecedented pandemic. Much pain, loss of livelihood, economic dislocation, impact on relationships are the present outcomes that are generally experienced by everyone. But our lives are no longer our own. We live and labor not for ourselves but for our successor generation, he notes.
The list of contributors for the “Forward” (yes, it is not Foreword, perhaps because there are 11 of them) consist of respected thinkers, peace advocates here and abroad. Many focus on the critical attributes needed to combat fear and lessons that emerge during the lockdown period. Lack of space allows me to quote only a few:
UP Professor Emeritus in Literature Gemino Abad : “There shall arise a deeper consciousness of Humanity as One Community. One Communion with all Nature.“
Peace advocate Karen Tanada: “There continues to be persons in deeper forms of isolation or exclusion – truth-tellers, whistleblowers, those are currently in sanctuaries to avoid threatened extrajudicial killings. We cannot emerge from the collective darkness until they too, are in the light.”
Toda Peace Institute Director Kevin Clements: “Without love, we cannot be the people we are meant to be; without courage, we cannot do the things that God and Humanity require of us; and without hope, we would be paralyzed and incapacitated by fear. All of these qualities are critical to successful peacemaking.”
Spokesperson for Asian Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines Patricia Fox: To be more contemplative and universal in our thinking. “A challenge to look at new ways of communicating especially with the lonely and those in need. Hope is the belief that a new day is possible because we strive to make it happen.”
Judge and activist Soliman Santos Jr.: “Bringing out the best and the worst in us means that change for the best requires a change in character, values, and lifestyle that help us become our best selves which is not just for ourselves.”
Ed also shares lessons from his 30-day retreat during thelockdown in these seven steps, namely, Re-purpose, Routinize, Re-focus, Re-charge, Re-assess, Re-connect, and Realize.
Among the publications that he has authored are Journey of Hope, Essays on Peace and Politics, Courage, Seachange, and The Filipino Quest Trilogy, an assessment of his involvement in some of the peace processes.
“Defiant Hope” is a “must” reading for all of us as we imagine and plan for a post-Covid world.
My email, =”/cdn-cgi/l/email-protection#c5a3a9aab7a4aba2a0a9eba7b7a4aca185a2a8a4aca9eba6aaa8″>[email protected]
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