“There be dragons,” proclaims Bobit Avila in his latest column for The Philippine STAR, railing at the pro-RH crowd and the Communists among us, calling us back into the fold of the Catholic Church, and cites a laundry list of somewhat inappropriate examples of holy punishment to guide the lost sheep back to the shepherd. Similes, metaphors, and correlations which, for lack of a better term, are made in heaven. Surely the wages of sin find their own fires in Hell, for Franco and Mussolini and Hitler and the Communists he so hates, but the Earth is surely not one of them. And maybe column spaces may be too limited to note that, among others:
- The economic crisis in Spain is caused by property bubbles, unemployment, and long-term credit deficits and loan crises, not a reproductive health law;
- Spain is not a Communist country, it is a Constitutional monarchy, and;
- There’s a really huge difference and disconnect in the metaphorical device of “the new Herods,” since the Massacre of the Innocents was anything but a public health measure enacted in Judea.
I really don’t mean any disrespect to deeply religious believers when I take up an affirmative position on the RH Bill, but it’s discussions like these (and “RH Bill will be a source of corruption” – so since roads and schools are a major source of corruption let’s stop building them, too, and that every other public good that can be grafted from should be eliminated altogether… more on that when I feel like it) that become very grating points.
The problem with the overly-religious opposition to RH is that it turns an issue of policy into an issue of ontology and physical issues of being: reproductive health is part of a menu of public health services offered by the state to the people. Now whether or not it is prescribed by some reading of the word of God is another question altogether.
Yet back to Mr. Avila: for one, to say that pro-RH senators “…unabashedly defend the women’s right to do whatever she wants with her body… even use contraceptives that we all know can kill the unborn” is to trivialize the struggle for a woman’s right to self-determination. Human equality is founded precisely on the fact that we can do whatever we want with ourselves for as long as we do it with the freedom of others in mind. For two, to say that the Communists do not want peace to reign is to take a very black-and-white view of their own ideological standpoint and to trivialize their own struggle. If they have dragged us into the road to perdition then surely Communism and its related ideologies have set us all up to the road to convenience: for example, sick leaves, equitable working days, and adequate health care across the board are contributions of Communism to capitalism on their own right.
For three, there’s the extremely toxic, divisive view taken by Mr. Avila: the “if-you’re-not-with-us-you’re-against-us” mentality that allows him free rein to misappropriate the teachings of Josemaria Escriva to fit his own, to use Franco’s Spain as an analogue to the Philippines, and forcing a similarity where there is none for P-Noy’s government and the Weimar Republic. Surely there are more things that define and situate our own practice and belief in Christianity and democracy than whether or not we believe that a reproductive health bill is a step in the right direction for us.
Like I said earlier, the wages of sin should find their own fires in Hell. In matters of policy, though, we need more fact and rigor, where the good columnist was caught with his pants down thrice. While there are many ways to read into a subject we can only come to an understanding and approval or disavowal of it if we do so with an open mind, and save the vitriol and name-calling for battles bigger than the state and its condoms.
Yet things that delve into the personal will have consequences that are personal, and they should be echoed in spaces that are personal. That they’re on national newspapers, however, is another thing. That if we’re going to talk – which all of this is – we should talk the right way: between free speech and freeing speech.
Are their dragons in our midst? I would say yes indeed and without question, but should Mr. Avila and his friends and followers find the wisdom to sheath the sword in the presence of a windmill, then we would find bigger, better things to tilt at.