Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

   One night in the Philippines while watching television with her children they heard a burst of gun fire.  Carmen ducked and told her kids to do the same.  

   "Mom, it sounds too far!" The eldest boy said.. 

   The mother could have sworn the shots came from just outside her window.  She couldn’t understand how she and her son would hear the same thing differently when they were inches from each other.  She filed it away in her mind as one of those weird things Filipinos don’t go to the doctor for.

   Forty years later they moved to America.  Carmen saw Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who just survived an assassination attempt lead the Democratic Convention in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Carmen was moved to tears.  She was not a voter in America.  This got her started to ask herself what was wrong with her.  Why was she so moved by the issues espoused by the Democrats and the shooting victims brave stance in appearing while half way through her recovery.

   Then she saw the movie Lone Survivor, a war movie set in Afghanistan.  The audience applauded with Carmen at the end of the movie but she was probably the only one in tears.  On the way out she questioned herself again.  Why would a war movie touch her so deeply as if she was a veteran?  She never was in the military.  In fact she marched against the Vietnam War and sang anti-war songs in sit ins during her college days.  Could that be it?  

   She was 17 when the dancing stopped and life began.  From there she lived through 20 years of Martial Law in the Philippines when the daily papers reported military abuse, torture, unsolved murder and disappearance.  She had witnessed a teenage boy beaten with a stick by Metrocom forces right in front of her window in Pasay City.  She heard a college professor was incarcerated for ten years for leading a student organization.  It was said that he was tortured so badly he couldn’t recognize his wife and children.  

   Whenever Carmen looks back at those 20 years she feels nothing like she was never there at all until the next news item, YouTube video or a song awakens her dormant PTSD.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Gifts of Patience and Compassion

   Everyone knows the story of Moses.  His image with the Ten Commandments engraved in tablets have been painted by artist of different nations and generations.  However, it is not a commonly known fact that God had to do the tablet writing twice because Moses broke the first pair.  God did not reprimand Moses for breaking the tablets.  

   “As soon as Moses got near the camp and saw the calf and the dances, his anger began to blaze, and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain.” (Exodus 32:19

   “Then God said to Moses: “Carve out for yourself two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that appeared on the first tablets, which you shattered.”  (Exodus 34:1)     

   Who has not heard of Jonah, the prophet who was swallowed by a whale?  He was commanded to preach a warning to Nineveh.  He took off to sea to avoid the assigned task.  Then after he finally delivered the message to Nineveh and the people turned back from their evil ways Jonah was displeased that God did not destroy Nineveh as per his warning.  God explained his justice to Jonah patiently with an example.  “You felt sorry for the bottle-gourd plant, which you did not work for, nor did you make it grow; …Should I not also feel sorry for Nineveh the great city, in which there are more than 120,000 men …?” (Jonah 4:11)

(18th century,
Kizhi Monastery, Russia)
   The Prophet Elisha was teased by some boys about his lack of hair.  The boys were punished severely.  This incident shows God’s disapproval of verbal abuse and bullying.  

   “He went up from there to Bethel. As he was going along the way, some young boys came out from the city and began to jeer at him, and they kept saying to him: “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!”  Finally he turned around and looked at them and cursed them in the name of God. Then two she-bears came out of the forest and tore 42 of the children to pieces.”  (2 Kings 2:23-24)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Gifts of Mercy

   “So he (Jesus) summoned his 12 disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, in order to expel these and to cure every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity.  The names of the 12 apostles are these: First, Simon, the one called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean; and Judas Iscariot, who later betrayed him.” (Matthew 10:1-4)  

   This shows that Judas Iscariot was given the privilege of performing miracle healing along with the rest of the 12.  It did not stop him from betraying Jesus.  The theory that his ultimate motivation for betraying Jesus was to get the Jews to struggle for political freedom from the Romans does not fit this account.  He could have used the healing power to help his people which would set the Jews above the Romans in terms of healthcare at a time when plagues are common due to poor medical information and treatment.  Judas was not punished for his betrayal.  He suffered from his own hands.

   “I have concluded that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good during their life, also that everyone should eat and drink and find enjoyment for all his hard work. It is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13)

   King Solomon, the man of wisdom, wrote the above verses which prove that God never meant for man to deprive himself, or hurt himself, not even for his worship.  Like a loving parent who would not wish ill on the children he wants “nothing better” than for man to enjoy the fruits of his labor. 

   “And now you are cursed in banishment from the ground that has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.  When you cultivate the ground, it will not give you back its produce.  You will become a wanderer and a fugitive in the earth.” At this Cain said to Jehovah: “The punishment for my error is too great to bear.” (Genesis 4:11-13)

   Cain was banished without even a cut or blow and he said his punishment was too great.  He had no remorse for what he has done.  Abel is dead, a young life cut short that could have reached 900 years.  Imagine how much Cain has taken from Abel.  In modern times banishment is like deportation.  He would still have the freedom to roam and live a normal life with an added mark that no one should kill him.  That would be in this day and age a high end security service against mugging, murder, molestation, break in, etc.  God loved Abel but in his mercy still did not give Cain capital punishment nor jail nor wished him endangerment.  Why should anyone prefer another God?

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Genes of the Father

   Marta moved to San Francisco, California to be with her daughter Karla.  She knew about movies but knew nothing about "Indie".  She came from an era when art and entertainment were generated by corporations or supported by elite patrons.  Karla told her about Indie writers, music composers and organizations that support them.  That she found them on line and volunteers to help in video productions and belonged to at least one of the organizations.  Such volunteers don’t get paid for their time.  Marta who has ‘employee mentality’ was amazed at the dedication and camaraderie among perfect strangers.

   One day Karla came home crying over an Indie singer/songwriter who died of cancer.  She had previously worked as a volunteer for the late artist.  They attended the memorial.  It was held in the ground floor of one of the old buildings in downtown San Francisco.  There was a stage and an image of the artist projected on screen behind the emcee.  There were several tables with lighted candles, food and wine for all.  The place was filled to capacity.  On stage, a woman was singing one of her original compositions, accompanying herself with a guitar.  More composers/singers followed giving a rendition of either their own or the late artist’s songs.  The widower talked about his late wife.  In between the live performances, videos of the artist who passed away were played and her music album was given as a party favor to the attendees.  

   As the night went on Marta in her mind’s eye could see Karla's father who died when the girl was in college socializing animatedly from table to table.  Finally Marta saw where Karla got it from.  He was gregarious unlike Marta who is more of a loner.  He was a highly intelligent man.  This would definitely have been his scene if he was alive today.  He would have loved to be around talented people on their way to main stream recognition.  Come to think of it, he would probably be volunteering too like Karla.  In the Philippines he was an active member of organizations, one of them was Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA) when he was an Advertising Manager.  He would have been proud that his daughter is associated with bohemians of San Francisco on her way to her own Oscar for screen writing.