BALINTATAW: Eph’pheta, that is, “Be Opened"

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/09 April) — As we close the school year 2010-11, the theme ‘Be Opened’ is fitting for reflection as we continue to journey onward.

The  appropriate passage comes from the Gospel of St. Mark.

“And they brought to him a man who was deaf
and had an impediment in his speech;
and they besought him to lay his hand on him.
And taking him aside from the multitude privately,
he put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and
touched his tongue;
and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him,
“Eph’phata”, that is, “Be opened.”
And his ears were opened, his tongue was released,
and he spoke plainly.” (Mk. 7: 32-35)

One of the hallmarks of GOOD education is OPENNESS to diverse peoples, faiths and cultures. There are three basic attitudes that guide people to openness.  They are as follows:

•       The awareness that our life, future and destiny are bound up with each other.  In this day and age, we cannot espouse a politics of separatism, culture of exclusivism, and act as if we were sole proprietors of the land and resources therein.

•       Second is the willingnes to learn not only from each other but more so to live and work as partners in shaping our common lives and destiny.

•       Third is our commitment and involvement in the promotion and guarantee of the rights and dignity of every person regardless of faith, gender, culture and color within our society/community.

The basis of this commitment is our belief that all peoples even though they belong to different religions, nations, minority groups, etc. form ONE single human family living in the same world/community, and destined for a common end.

There is a passage in the many discourses of Pope John Paul II that challenges all.

“People do not accept their differences. They do not know each other sufficiently. They reject those who have not the same civilization. They refuse to help each other. They are unable to free themselves from egoism and from self-conceit. But God created all equal in dignity, Though different with regard to gifts and talents, Mankind is a whole where each one has his/her part to play. The worth of the various peoples and of the diverse cultures must be recognized. The world is as it were a living organism. Each one has something to receive from the others and has something to give to them.” (JP II’ s address at Casablanca Morocco on 18 August 1985)

When we speak of education and formation of the youth, it is crucial that they be taught the ways of respect and understanding, so that they will not be led to misuse religion and ethnicity to promote or justify hatred and violence.

The educational system should impart knowledge of each other’s religious beliefs at the practical level, to a new way of presenting religions and cultures NOT IN OPPOSITION or CLASH, as it happened too often, BUT IN PARTNERSHIP OR IN ALLIANCE FOR THE GOOD OF THE HUMAN FAMILY.”

Openness is NOT a universal element in human relations.  It has to be slowly, patiently and sometimes painfully nurtured through time. The young people, more than ever, must be the witnesses of this openness to each other … in the fragmented world out there! (MindaViews is theopinion section of MindaNews. Balintataw is Fr. Eliseo “Jun” Mercado’s
column for the weekly Mindanao Cross in Cotabato City)