Thursday, December 31, 2009

One Week to a Disciplined Life

I started this set of New Year's Resolutions last year and did quite well during the first few weeks. It might be because the goals are too idealistic and too-world changing (I quit after a few weeks!). But that is what life is all about -- changing your perspective as you feel you need to in order to keep everything fresh.

I said "change your perspective" -- not change your personality or your beliefs. Someone said she found the secret to life: Stay around long enough till you get used to it. Removing bad habits involves replacing them with good habits -- candies for cigarettes or praises for curses. At first, it seems hard but time works wonders for those who persevere. I guess that word "persevere" comes from "perform" and "severe" (not really, but it's nice, no?). Do it even if it is hard or painful! Do it because it is the right and good thing to do. Just do it! Do!

For one whole week, focus on the goal set daily. Do a thing or two (or twenty!) to make the habit stick on the first week. Go back at the start of the list and begin all over again. When you feel you have formed the habits, forget about the list and live free and do right as a more disciplined person. Even if you do it for only a week or four, you would have set yourself on the course to a more focused and fulfilling journey to excellence. Most of all, you enjoy more in life when you have reason to be joyful about it. A better you is definitely reason to celebrate.

Read the list and prepare to begin a new life in 2010 (there's always next year to do it again!):

1. Clean up – Remove all unnecessary and harmful stuff from your dwelling place, work place and relations and, most especially, from your body, soul and mind. Example: real trash, dust and useless things and negative thoughts, energy-vampires and unproductive habits.

2. Organize – Establish order in your environment, work and relationships. Be not a servant to others or to yourself but only to God. Prioritize. Eliminate excess baggage. Give time for rest and recreation.

3. Simplify – Choose to be uncomplicated and unaffected. Deal with simple people, matters and ways. When tempted to take on so many things, stop and unburden. Unburden!

4. Economize – Save on energy, time and material resources. Do with little what others can do with much. Use only essential skills and the proper essential tools to achieve goals.

5. Work smart – Work for God and His glory and you’ll never go wrong. Do what is proper and what brings the best good. Be excellent!

6. Pray hard – Let God do the real work; you only listen and do as told!

7. Do it with God – You have a partnership with God – He shows the way but you have to do the walking. He lights the way; you keep your eyes on the pointing light -- the One that says Follow Me and YOU WILL LIVE.

Do it now! Zooo...2010...oooom ahead!

(Photo above: Guitar strings don't move at all until human hands coordinate in the making of wonderful music. Be the beautiful music that God wants to play. >>>Thanks to Rocky Esperon for the great shot.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Open Letter to Mr. Conrado de Quiros Re Ladlad Candidate Disqualification: Nuisance or Know-Sans?

Dear Mr. De Quiros,

Your criticism against the Comelec’s disqualification of Mr. Danton Remoto as a senatorial Candidate (Phil Daily Inquirer, Opinions, 09Dec21) borders upon nuisance as well as know-sans (that is, a lack of appreciation of the fundamental spiritual and moral issues involved). You argue that one’s gender should not be a reason for one’s disqualification – being male or female, that is. But it is not gender that is the issue here but whether being gay is a legal or a moral gender choice or condition at all. Hence, your defense of Remoto’s right applies only in a very narrow way based on your perception of political or legal rights entrenched in our Constitution. I can agree that everyone may have particular rights, such as freedom of suffrage or speech; but anyone may opt not to make full use of them without suffering any serious personal consequences. Hence, a person who does not vote is not like someone who commits a public offense by walking nude in the streets or smoking in a non-smoking area.

It is presumed, under any legal system that rights are granted based on a consensus of the majority of people or by a duly recognized authority, like a king or a dictator, for that matter. But being gay, as far as I know, is not (not yet, anyway) a right specifically granted by our Constitution and our Civil Code. Socially, and loosely at that, it is tolerated and even given protection by virtue of the presence of individuals or groups who lobby for its recognition and even its legal protection. In certain states in the US and in other countries, homosexuality is already afforded legal recognition and protection. Whatever moral compromises, concessions and consequences came or will come with this development, we do not fully comprehend at the moment. And yet, history has shown us that playing around with morals does have dire consequences.

Under the unwritten natural laws recognized and practiced through thousands of years of human history as well as under the written laws of God handed down to the prophet Moses and others, homosexuality (as an act, as a lifestyle and as a practice) is considered unnatural and even abominable. So abominable, in fact, that God, through direct and irrefutable concrete manifestations, would go to the extent of causing calamities to show His wrath against those who practice homosexuality. (Being gay or being effeminate but not practicing homosexuality may not fall within this obviously harsh judgment.)

Of course, for an atheist or a skeptic, such an argument has no weight. That is why it is so hard to make any sensible discussion with those who define matters of great consequence (such are rights -- whether legal, sexual or political) based on invented or alternative but unnatural and illogical philosophies. Unnatural, in the sense that even nature abhors and rejects, as a rule of course, a so-called “third sex”. This is so for several simple reasons. Firstly, a third or middle gender is unnecessary as far as reproduction is concerned. It takes only two basic genders, male and female, to complete the process of human reproduction, so why invent or contemplate one or two more? To be different or stylish? Reproduction is the primary function of sex; but, we have turned marriage into a game where the toys we use may vary. In fact, sex has become the main goal of many people and not the reproduction, development and propagation of the race.

Secondly, homosexuality elevates personal satisfaction or carnal pleasure above everything else and, thereby, leads people to violate social and family norms established and promoted for centuries by successful and progressive nations throughout history. The reason people and nations now succumb under the intense pressure for people to respect and accept homosexuality is because we have allowed our moral values (particularly those which pertain to marriage, public conduct, drug use, etc.) to be gradually diminished to a point where those who have the slightest desire to realign the social and legal boundaries may easily do so.

Loose morality is the order of the day. Being gay is but one glittering product among so many others going on in the process of de-threading the social fabric. Running for a public office to promote a minority lifestyle is obviously Ladlad’s objective. If the members feel that they are indeed a marginalized sector of society that needs protection, it is because they have chosen to be what they should not have been according to the norms of society. What makes them different from armed rebels who seek recognition through violent means? In the eyes of God and of straight people, they rebel against God’s righteous ways and need to be reformed or restored to the right path. To allow them to use our institutions to espouse a clearly unacceptable choice is like inviting the NPA to walk freely in our streets with their firearms.

We have all heard of families which took pains in preventing one or two of their members from becoming gay but ended up accepting them eventually. It is so much like having a pregnant teenager and having no other choice than to accept her and the baby into the family. Marriage is no longer a must but an option and even a past-time for those who jump from one to another.

Finally, homosexuality has no scientific or physiological basis, contrary to so many claims. If it were really true that certain individuals have an imbalance in their sexual glands that makes them tend to be what they are not, then God, both in His wisdom and justice, made a terrible mistake in creating some people and more so in condemning them to hell-fire. Where is the morality in killing a bird because it was born with only one wing? Why then would God destroy gays if He made them so biologically? Are scientists not merely overriding morals by giving a justification for homosexuality? No, God judges because of sin and sin is willful violation of laws or norms a mature and responsible person knows and comprehends fully well. Otherwise, God, more than any biased court of law, is awfully guilty of injustice or unlawful punishment. This is exactly what the apostle was saying: Who are you to question what the potter should do with the pot? Yet, we know that any potter only aims to make the best pot and not just play around with the clay in a senseless way. God’s first pot was a perfect man. The fall was in the man, not in the potter. Perhaps, the pot has now found a way to change its own use and ended up being rejected by the potter. And yet we now have the gumption to say, forget the potter or what he thinks!

Hence, in your defense of Ladlad’s right to field a candidate for a Senate seat, you have failed to consider what homosexuality is really all about and what the ultimate goal is of anyone who seeks legal or political recognition of this unnatural, illogical and unnecessary lifestyle that has caused social ills everywhere it rears its beautiful ugly head. If we want God’s anger and judgment to come upon us, then let us let loose the bounds of unnatural passions within us. Let us make fools of ourselves by not recognizing the divine design in our very beings. Let us deny the sexual organs given us by using them in ways we deem necessary. Let us all surrender our cherished values and start teachings kindergarten kids that we must respect and accept those who do not fall within the God-given, fundamental classification of male and female, father and mother, brother and sister (read some of the gay-oriented children’s books and you’ll be surprised).

It is so easy to change one’s sex or sexuality nowadays. A married artist may easily shift to become a single, gay person and then be considered a woman, not just by name but also by nature and character. That, in their minds, should convince people that they are technically male or female and not of the “third” kind. The self-deception is complete and they want others to play along, like what you are doing.

But in all this, you forget that it is homosexuality that is one of the great nuisances we can think of today. I dread the thought of what calamities and punishments our country will have to go through until we realize what we have done to nature – environmentally and humanly speaking. You think we can appease nature and God when we continually go against His laws?

We have all respect for people who are intelligent and make decent and moral choices. But homosexuality, based on the above discussion, is not just an unnatural, unnecessary and illogical choice but an immoral choice as well. Because of it, Sodom and Gomorrah fell completely and ingloriously. Thanks to people in government who still believe this and practice their belief in God in spite of opposition from those who would reject and deny God’s laws and His very existence. Their decision is not being discriminatory to gay rights, as claimed by human rights activists, but an upholding of divine as well as human laws. The rule is straight; being gay is crooked as the devil’s tail. I would not wish burning rocks upon sinners; but God has shown He can do so. Do not judge then those who believe in the one, true Judge who alone is able to destroy.

But then you accuse “Bible-spouting types” as being “trapped in the Old Testament” in your defense of gay rights. And yet, when you speak or write, you are not even sure if you would believe in God or not. Who gave you the right then to say that what is recorded in the OT is not relevant in our times? When Mt. Pinatubo erupted, was it not God’s desire to end the presence of military bases and their appurtenant brothels in the cities of Angeles and Olongapo-Subic, among other things? Was it merely an incidental inconvenience for us Filipinos to suffer such a calamity without seeing and benefiting from what heaven was doing to our people who look up to Him for salvation? Of course, this notion is as foreign to you as the idea that sexual sins are abominable to God.

Do we Christians fear God’s wrath for nothing at all? Or is it because we respect Him first and His laws and, therefore, recognize our responsibility to save those who do not fear His judgment? And so, if our respect for God then is seen as fear then how do we show compassion for those who ignore His laws? By denying the lessons of history and being blind to our visions of the future and the judgment to come? If we fear, it is because we know how an angry God exacts justice upon those who knowingly reject Him and His ways. We fear because we also sin and yet when we live righteously we achieve incomprehensible peace. But the peace that those who remain in sin seem to experience is an uneasy one. For them, we feel vicarious fear.

When you say, we “fear (our) sexuality”, do you mean to say that we fear our being a male or being a female, which is neither here nor there? Or do you mean we suppress our expression of our sexuality in any and all forms possible (like what voyeurs and permissive gays do) without regard to certain moral obligations? Is this so-called moral or sexual liberation a given evolutionary consequence of natural selection that people fondly give vent to in their “enlightened and sophisticated” circles? Methinks, it is an insult even to Darwin who started all this fall into humanistic delusion.

Being gay and being in the Senate is not something new. Some came upon it by being simple politicians who kept their sexuality and gender-preference hidden and outside of the political umbrage, or so it seemed. If they practiced their lifestyle within or beyond the walls of Senate, it was not of public concern or scrutiny but was definitely under divine supervision. Whatever the consequences of their immoral deeds, we leave for God to decide. For in the darkness, only God can see what humans do. But when a proclaimed gay and gay-rights vanguard pushes his way inside the walls of Senate or wherever, he comes as a marked person who is out to take some amount of control upon the reins of our political and legal systems to espouse his unnatural, unnecessary, illogical and immoral lifestyle. It will throw up into the wind all the fetters we have put against those who would destroy our moral and family values established by God through His teachers and practiced by His followers since the creation of the world.

Ladlad means "to unravel or unmask". If Mr. Danton Remoto is sincere in unraveling his nature before the nation, let him see himself as he really is, as God created him. Let him and every gay see themselves naked before the mirror and ask this question: Was I truly born like this? Was I truly created in this manner? Is what I feel right? Do I have the right to feel what I should not? Was I given this body and this life to be what I wish to be or what God wants me to be? Is there more to me than what I see in the mirror? Is there a spirit in this body formed in the image of the divine? If so, who needs the Old Testament, for even Buddhists and Confucianists believe likewise? If one cannot find the answers, then it time to ask for help from one’s Creator.

If Mr. Remoto wishes to run for office, let him run as a politician and not a gay-moralist who is out to change or diffuse the morals and beliefs of people. Does he have to become a Senator to live the way he wants? Does he believe he can rally all gays to his side in an effort to protect their rights without causing more division and strife in our society than there is? And if you wish to defend his so-called gay rights, please limit your arguments on fundamental electoral issues and avoid putting down those who believe in God. Faith in God is a guaranteed right under our Constitution which a person cannot renounce without suffering grave consequences. Defend someone else’s rights if you want for what it is worth; but do not put down others’ spiritual preferences and beliefs and thereby mock their own Constitutional rights. Straight people, and I dare say God-believing people, comprise the majority of our population while gays make up a small minority. Why insult the many to defend the few?

On the other hand, homosexuality is not a guaranteed right under our Constitution. In fact, it is something a person can and must give up in order to avoid grave eternal consequences. But, of course, you do not know that; nor do you believe it. Who then is the nuisance: the one who knows or the one who does not? The one who recognizes God and follows His laws or the one who does not? Perhaps, it is time to look into the mirror and get to know yourself more.

Yours truly,

Vincent Ragay