"No lie can live forever," said Carlyle. "Truth, crushed to earth, will rise again," added William Cullen Bryant. And forty years ago, Martin Luther King cried:
On some positions,
Cowardice asks the question, "Is it safe?"
Expediency asks the question, "Is it politic?"
Vanity asks the question, “Is it popular?”
But Conscience asks the question, "Is it right?"
There comes a time when one must take a position
that is neither safe nor politic nor popular;
but one must take it
because Conscience says, "It is right."
Following his conscience, Rodolfo Lozada Jr. these days has revealed possible corruption in the handling of government contracts. His confession has stirred memories of other allegations by other people of graft and greed in government, and is shaking the souls of many to speak and act in response.
What of us, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), an association of 1,252 schools, colleges, and universities with at least 2 million students and around 120,000 school personnel and faculty?
We too must speak; we too must act. For, as the same Martin Luther King continued, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent on things that matter."
Silent then we must not be or must no longer be, if once we were. May not our lives end but rather begin in a special way this Valentine’s Day. Beyond the love we are expected to declare for the persons of our hearts, is the love for the people of our country that we are invited to express in this time of crisis in our land. Mere bystanders we cannot just be but active participants in the continuous task of shaping our nation’s life. In the words of Vaclav Havel, "By perceiving ourselves as part of the river, we take responsibility for the river as a whole."
For those of us who know the truth, we pray for the courage to speak it. For those who seek justice, we pray for humility in the pursuit, personal integrity in the quest, respect for others involved in the search. For those of us who must judge and act on what we see and hear, we pray for fairness and the will to make the good triumph over evil in a way that removes the bad, without the act leading to what is even worse.
In tandem with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) we invite our member schools and their constituents, our alumni, and friends individually and communally to pray for guidance on what to do in these times of tension and difficulty. We ask our administrators, faculty, and students to bring to the fore the issues of the day, discuss in humility and decide in fortitude and love what we must do together as a people in the different parts of the country where we are.
We must seek to discover the educative moment and the lesson for life in the investigation sessions and in the rallies and other mass actions we may join. To our country and the world, we must show and say that we will not allow dishonesty, corruption, indifference, or neglect to rule our lives. We must look into ourselves and ensure that what we decry in others we do not do ourselves.
We should pledge to continue to teach and live truth, honesty and integrity in our own schools so that when our graduates leave us they bring with them not just skills and knowledge, but wisdom and love to inspire and change the world.
To this end, we link up with other groups sincerely searching for truth and justice. We encourage the establishment of truth centers in our schools so that our students, teachers, and staff are led to continuing awareness, reflection, and formation toward social-political engagement. We invite our members to support the sanctuary fund set up by the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP). We support the signature campaign demanding the implementation of the Supreme Court's decision junking Executive Order 464 so that the search for truth is not hindered or compromised.
Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life we shall continue to ask to lead us, accompany, and comfort us in all we need to do. It is He, after all, who will truly set us free. The Holy Spirit we ask to enlighten us so that our external actions flow from inner harmony of heart. We remember the words of Will Durant: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." So we ask our Heavenly Father for the grace that we never neglect, but ever firm up the moral fiber of our souls.
With anger at the wrong and sinful things in and around us, may we not allow to make ourselves men and women of violence. We take to heart the thought of Martin Luther King: "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence, you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
May our light dispel darkness; may our love melt whatever hatred may lurk within. But in this Kairos moment, this time of grace, we, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, with all men and women of good will, in our nation and in the world, in the name of the Lord, by the grace of His Spirit, in concert and in communion call on ourselves and one another to — speak the truth, seek justice, and work to set things right.