What are we, really?
Are we people of the church? Or are we citizens of a governed country?
In fact, we are both.
We have divided allegiances.
We are a confused lot that cannot separate his religious belief from his political self.
It has been that way since the first wave of Spanish ships unloaded priests with the Spanish army to help soften the early Malay inhabitants of our islands through religious conversion.
It has proved a powerful tool that aided the conqueror’s subjugation of the various small kingdoms which had their own forms of religion, with their own gods and practices, which were destroyed in favor of the then new rulers.
It lasted more than 300 years. And in between, rebels— believers and non-believers, the innocent and those simply seeking changes — were hanged, shot and garroted, in the name of the church and of the king of Spain.
Spain lost its once vaunted imperial power as the old rule gave way to the new.
But Catholicism persisted despite the emergence of modern religions. It continued to assert its presence in government, its princes treated as equals with government officials who held political power as representatives of the people.
The church, they say, also represents the people.
But it stayed silent when political conveniences favoring it. It moved when it was threatened with political infiltration by what emerged as its own religious warriors who felt close connection with its people, or were influenced by the new political movements which swept the church in the 1980s.
The Edsa revolt that booted out a dictator was a result of both. The Edsa party which placed Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Malacañang was purely for church convenience, until it realized it was wrong.
Now, it threatens yet another of that so-called people power as President Noynoy Aquino is deemed going too far in his support of the RH Bill.
The RH Bill, as some believers would like us to accept, is not the work of evil.
There is no evil in this issue.
The RH Bill is only offering us a choice.
It is not a choice between good and evil. It is not as simple as that.
Circumstances are forcing us to check this population boom which we could no longer sustain.
Although there are various debates as to the real cause of poverty, there is no denying that overpopulation adds to the causes that deny the poor food on their tables, health care for the sick and education for the young.
Other countries have long made a headway in checking the rise of their populations.
China limits its couples to just one child. Those who have more pay more in taxes. Sounds fair for them.
Countries which have become prosperous after decades of practicing population control now encourage their young couples to make more babies. Countries with an aging population do the same.
That is the role of government. It adjusts to the needs of its people. It does not live in a single, linear belief unlike the church, which incidentally, used to insist that the world isn’t spherical.
The church may not be wrong in insisting that its believers value life. There is no debate on that.
Government isn’t on the wrong side either in giving us choices. It wants RH to become law simply to improve the quality of life of those living.
The church cannot meddle in political affairs. Its political powers have long been snapped, more than a century ago if memory serves me right.
It could remind its followers to choose its path, but it could not force all of us.
Even cats can choose between a bowl of milk or fish for dinner.
Why can’t we make our choices when there should be?
What are we, really?
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