The four year old boy never wavered at the man with the mike. A sniffle punctuated his speech, but he was composed. He recounted the day’s event to the best of his ability, and with the simple words, “Bapa… kena bom (Dad was bombed),” his innocence as a tertiary victim in Sabah’s recent outbreak of hostilities, was bared for the world to see.
This child, interviewed on national television is the son of a hero, Commando Zulkifli Mamat, the policeman who had fallen in a firefight against intruding militant Suluks in Lahad Datu, Sabah.
Corperal Sabaruddin Daud, 46, Zulkifli’s comrade-in-arms was also killed in the incident. I came home from church to see his young adult son’s face on TV talking about the suddenness of his father’s passing. Despite the age difference between the two sons, they share the same grief and tragedy. Both have lost important figures in their lives. My heart wrenched as I watched Sabaruddin’s son calmly relating what he felt after receiving the news of his father. It wasn’t long before I was suppressing a familiar rising indignation. For you see, I hate what the intruders have done to my people. I hate them for being here. For making demands while pointing a gun at our face. I can’t help but hate.
I am a Catholic. I am supposed to love my enemy. I am also taught that taking a human life is against the Christian creed.
But, I am also a sinner, descendant of Adam and Eve whose carnal desires are often at odds with the spirit’s, and the recent events in Sabah have tested my faith and my spirit greatly. I wanted a quick fix to this upheaval. I wanted annihilation of the all murderers.
But I know, what I want most is peace.
When my countrymen cry blood in comment boxes on news reporting the intrusion of Suluk militants, part of me recoils. To demand a retaliatory massacre reflects the depraved side of human nature. I know this. I’ve watched enough documentaries and read books on the horrors of war and the senselessness of vengeance killings.
Yet, for all the awareness I have, for all the gospel truth swimming in my cerebrum, another a part of me resonate with my angry compatriots. ‘Take them out! Wipe them out!’ My heart screams for action.
To my shame, morbid fancies in the form of wild imaginations that belong only in movies keep playing in my mind – silent assassins sent to permanently neutralize the head of this incursion, trained snipers picking out the intruders one by one, poisons, knockout gas, releasing homicidal robots to mutilate (and I mean tearing off the limbs of) the savages who had ambushed and killed six of my country’s law officers. I realize these imaginations are manifestations of my primal desires, grisly thoughts no sane person should indulge in. They’re against what I believe in for goodness sakes. I ought to be thinking about of monsters, or aliens, or zombies to destroy. Instead I’m wishing them on people!
I guess I am trying compensate how powerless and perhaps, useless I am in all of this, and the truth is I am. Imagining ruthless conducts isn’t helping anything. I’m constantly battling the desire to pummel the keyboard and rail against foreigners who think they own my land. As far as social online inhibitions goes, I’m winning. Mentally though, well, I’ve already said as much.
Worst still I am a Christian with the realization that hate never solves anything. To love your enemy, to endure scorn and to trust in the Divine’s power are what a Christ’s believer should be practicing. And I haven’t been abiding by these, especially in this month of Lent.
In retrospect, I have been using the word savages on the intruders. It is derogatory and shows an aversion to human dignity. I’ve been picturing the intruders as faceless enemies of subhuman origin. How far have let myself succumb to the pull of negativity? How faithless am I to not see that that there are intelligent leaders, just and sensible, populating the chambers of the UN councils? Let this matter be brought to international court as the interlopers so desire. The band of militants may have the guns, but they don’t run the show of civilized men.
I have to constantly remind myself that I may hate for what the yahoos are doing – their sins. But I cannot and should never hate them – the sinner. How do you separate that? It’s never easy. Being a Christian is never easy. Call Christians hypocrites. God doesn’t call on the righteous, but sinners to Him, and you damn well sure most of us are still waging a war against ourselves.
Luke 5:32 – I have not come to call the upright, but sinners to repentance.
There must be no condition to love. So I pray, I pray to God, in this month of abstinence and almsgiving for the protection on my people, my country’s armed forces, and my land. And I pray that I am able to see the good in everything, even, in the foulest of men.