19th century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard
Life can only be understood backward; but it must be lived forwards.
— Søren Kierkegaard
FOR many Americans, the present time is a dark period because of unemployment and job loss, hunger and starvation, evictions and homelessness as well as sickness and death brought about by the coronavirus pandemic—so where should people turn?
Irish-American president Joseph Robinette Biden has a simple answer: “Faith.”
Addressing the National Prayer Breakfast last February 4, Biden cited: “Kierkegaard wrote,
‘Faith sees best in the dark.’
The United States’ 46th president was referring to a quote from Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher.
Biden went on saying that for me, in the darkest moments, faith provides hope and solace, it provides clarity and purpose as well.
“It shows the way forward,” America’s second Catholic chief executive stressed.
Filipinos can understand this. Faith actually shows the way forward as one nation in a common purpose, quoting from Biden’s message that echoed his theme of unity in his January 20 inaugural speech.
Those going hungry, facing eviction, lacking health care or losing their lives “aren’t Democrats and Republicans—they’re our fellow Americans, fellow human beings,” he pointed out.
He added: “(America) is not a nation that can, or will, simply stand by and watch this. It is not who we are.”
We can relate to this since we, as Catholics and a patriotic people, have always weathered the adverse effects of past problems through unity at nationalism — hence we recall the Battle of Mactan, Dr. Jose Rizal’s filibustering against our Spanish colonizers, the guerilla war our ancestors waged against American and Japanese oppressors and the bloodless EDSA People’s Power Revolution that led to the restoration of democracy in the archipelago.
So there are no administration and opposition politicians — we are one people, Filipinos all.
We should be proud “that in a bipartisan fashion, in a bicameral fashion, we continue a tradition that has been around for more than 500 years.”
Our nation today more than ever needs to see a bipartisan coalition of believers coming together. Now more than ever we need our leaders to come together, to be together in the spirit of Jesus.
Remembering “to love our neighbors and even the more demanding (call) to love our enemies is one of the biggest challenges we have and something we need to do right now. This is a great opportunity to remind us of that and to seek inspiration to continue to find unity—amidst the ongoing health crisis brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and likewise amidst today’s ‘political discord’ when people so often are ‘demonizing’ those on the opposite side of issues.
We need a welcoming environment that allows us to see the best in one another and to better understand each other.
And amidst the darkness, the world must begin to realize its shared humanity in order to live peacefully, otherwise it risks falling apart in endless conflicts, Pope Francis has said.
On the very same day of the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, the pope enthused: “Today, there is no time for indifference. We cannot wash our hands of it, with distance, with disregard, with contempt. Either we are brothers and sisters or everything falls apart. It is the frontier, the frontier on which we have to build; it is the challenge of our century, it is the challenge of our time.”
A Higher Committee of Human Fraternity was also established by the pope to implement concrete proposals toward fraternity, solidarity and mutual understanding.
Fraternity, the pontiff explained, not only means respecting and listening to others “with an open heart,” it also means remaining firm in one’s own convictions; otherwise “there is no true fraternity if one’s own convictions are negotiated.”
Well said, Francis continued: “We are brothers and sisters, born of the same father; with different cultures and traditions, but all brothers and sisters. And while respecting our different cultures and traditions, our different citizenships, we must build this fraternity, not negotiate it.”
Pope Francis noted the International Day of Human Fraternity was a moment of listening, of sincere acceptance and “of certainty that a world without brothers and sisters is a world of enemies.”
And we agree that “it not only takes a war to make enemies. It is enough with that technique—it has become a technique—that attitude of looking the other way, of getting rid of the other as if he or she didn’t exist.” (AI/MTVN)