Thursday, August 31, 2006


Quest for Brotherhood

There is an interesting and true meaning in the writings of Mitsugi Saotome which speaks the essence of brotherhood. It is this: “ If you were all alone in the universe with no one to talk to, no one with which to share the beauty of the stars, to laugh with, to touch, what would be your purpose in life? It is other life, it is love, which gives your life meaning. This is harmony. We must discover the joy of each other, the joy of challenge, the joy of growth.”.
In the human quest for brotherhood, a better understanding of love is of central importance. In both its effects and affects, love is immeasurable. Will you believe me that history is a witness that certain problems can be resolved if people or nations act as brothers in love? Take for example, the Solidarity Movement in 1980 Poland. Some social scientists calculated that the Solidarity Movement will be irrelevant once it will be crushed by the Communists, whereas others claimed that it will be a positive non-violent force that will topple the communists. We all know that the latter triumphed.
I am reminded of something Vaclav Havel had said: “ The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human humility, and in human responsibility.” One can only join with him in announcing “ brotherhood can be something higher than my family and my country”.
What is that brotherhood to which Mr. Havel associated with the human heart? What power doest it have that drives people to offer their time, money and talent into a cause wherein the results are uncertain and often painful?. We are all aware of the “generic brotherhood” of our time. They are dressed like fraternities, sororities, organizations and clubs, deodorized by exclusiveness. Some people who wear the “generic brotherhood” dress become either privatize or narrowly activist.
The war in the Middle East, the genocide in Darfur and the sufferings of Filipinos in our time are indeed enough proof of the “generic brotherhood” that the depth dimension of the true meaning of brotherhood was lost.
In order to touch souls of nations, the generic should be transformed into universality. Can it be reversed? How can this be possible? Can we still say that men can transform the true meaning of brotherhood as creating ways to help each other? It is time for us to look into our hearts and dwell at the very core of it.
Whenever I read articles about Gawad Kalinga, Jaycees, Red Cross and a hundred others, I become a believer of these movements. They continue to light the dark path of our times.
Whether it’s famine in North Korea, hurricane in New Orleans or war in Mindanao, such groups act in harmony to help the needy. They believed that the sufferings of other people are their sufferings. Hearing lives being wasted by a land mine , seeing mothers in the internet limping to beg in order to buy food or reading that an organization needs a helping hand to build house for the homeless are enough reasons for them to act. The government, whatever its form, silently renounced its sovereignty whenever they need help to alleviate the immense suffering of its people. Even despot regimes can not tag an organization as enemies if people from other nations bring compassion and hope.
In the case of Gawad Kalinga, it expresses itself in the form of building decent houses for the homeless. The 19,321 homes in 809 communities built by 8,400 advocates created the avenue of hope that even doubting Thomases will be an advocate once they see how dreams fulfilled and human dignity restored.
Jaycees with its 200,000 active members present in more than 5000 communities in over 100 countries worldwide may at first sight appear to be concerned for the defense of businessmen. On a much deeper level, however, we can realize presence of activism for young people to meet, to learn and to grow together.
Hurricane Katrina was the shining example of universal brotherhood. Red Cross necessitated the largest mobilization of 233,000 volunteers coming from different organizations and religious affiliations for a single relief operation. In their spectacularly radical commitment, we can detect their belief in the sacredness of brotherhood.
If our purpose is to transcend nations we obviously should act as brothers. In these trying times we don’t lack any heroes. What we need are the true definitions of brotherhood which touch the ground of the human heart. These can be manifested in the food we give to the needy, the decent home we build for the homeless, the training we give to the youth, and the right action taken when it is needed most desperately.

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