THE WORM’S EYEVIEW: Off with the mask and the alias now!

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 29 Apr) – As the final phase of Congress’s consideration of the Bangsamoro Basic Law nears the end, let us reflect on some of its implications at personal level, where its ultimate impact will be.

It is good that both sides are full of expectation that the BBL will pass, that therefore reconciliation is at hand. We should then take occasion to re-establish what has been a ruptured relationship.

Time to end cat-and-mouse/hit-and-run games, and restore communication. No need for a disguise, a contrived identity, or an alias anymore. Just normal, candid interaction will do.

It was heartening to hear and see both panels speaking from the same stage at Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro, sharing their thoughts with the community. That’s how it should be from now on; we are all members of the Mindanaon community and should engage in more dialogue or exchange.

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If we think deep down and consider one another, there’s not much really that differentiates us and our way of life. We may observe different rituals or traditions, but we all believe in an Almighty Being who presides over our destinies. So there’s no reason why we can’t get along and live in harmony and peace.

We need now to try to live down how we let matters slide back at times and let our relations sink so low, with deadly effects, creating so much hurt and pain.

We could very well have reached out to one another, appealed to our better, nobler natures, and achieved yesterday the gains we hope to gain today from the Bangsamoro arrangement. We could have done that long ago.

We could have forged a durable peace, achieved justice and prosperity without shedding blood, sweat, or tears. Why we didn’t is a long story. Let’s take care not to backslide again.

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It’s not too late. Achieving peace, building and maintaining it, is never too late. We can start by forgiving what is past; not forgetting but forgiving.

We can try to make up by making amends for injuries and hurts—and resolve never again to make them happen.

We should do so for the sake of the future and succeeding generations. As part of making amends, or atoning, we should set out to establish a society we and the next generation can be proud of, one the world can respect and emulate.

If we begin to shape that future now—in our thoughts and deeds, in the ways that we do things, in our relationships—the sooner we shall achieve it.

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The nice thing about doing so is we don’t need weapons or killing machines, just the will to do it. Instead of weapons, and money with which to acquire them, we invest what there is of it to build the infrastructure and defenses of peace.

We’re talking here of education, social services, productivity, technology, and all of the life-giving, life-affirming features that makes a society thrive and flourish.

It will then be our primary preoccupation to firm up the peace by strengthening law and order, by building a just society, and by assuring equal opportunity for all.

This is what the United Nations urged when it created UNESCO with the preamble: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men where the defenses of peace must be constructed.” To take our cue from this is to make of our society a formidable bastion of peace, justice, and prosperity.

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And to make sure it remains that way, we just keep our relationships open, candid, and trusting. It means we remove pretense or posturing. Off with the mask; away with the alias; and be our real self in dealing with one another. Out with the biases also; no more stereotyping.

Then those menacing sniper rifles and high-powered assault weapons some like to display during “Kodak Moments” can be shelved and stored safely away. There will no longer be room or use for them, only for instruments of peace and peace-keeping.

No need to splurge on weaponry and ammunition anymore. We just concentrate on law and order, in preventing disorder. Then there’ll be less violence, less fear, and more happiness. People then can live a dignified existence, no longer haunted by fright, no longer poised for flight.

That way we can recover and let our finer sense of values prevail, resolved never again to let it go haywire or out of control.

[Manny is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general, Southeast Asia Publishers Association; director, Development Academy of Philippines; member, Philippine Mission to the UN; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, Cory Government’s Peace Panel; awardee, PPI-UNICEF outstanding columnist. Author of books on governance, he is chairman/convenor of Gising Barangay Movement Inc. [email protected] ]