POSTSCRIPT / December 1, 2011 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Hate devours the person and the nation. But why?

SUDDENLY, when you woke up this morning, it was/is December! And three Sundays from now, Pasko na!

Let me be among the first to greet you Happy Christmas. May peace and love be with us not only during the yuletide but for as long as we keep the faith.

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VOTE NA!: The Congress has dissected and discussed in great detail the various pending bills on Reproductive Health. By this time everybody should have formed an opinion on the substantive points.

It is time for our senators and congressmen to merge the different bills into one final form, refine the consolidated measure and put it immediately to a vote.

We suggest nominal voting in the Senate and the House, with each lawmaker explaining his/her vote for the record. Their constituents should know where they stand.

By the action that President Noynoy Aquino will take on the enrolled copy we will also know where he stands on the RH question.

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AFFIRMATION: A pro-life manifesto going the rounds reassures politicians and the general public that, contrary to claims, there is no international “right” to abortion.

The document called the San Jose Articles is being publicized in many countries. Aside from the Philippines, the most recent countries where it has been presented are Italy and Uruguay.

The Articles contain a series of affirmations on the inviolability of human life and the fact that there is no international “right” to abortion. It counters claims of some agencies and United Nations representatives who go around saying that such a right exists.

Among those who have signed the Articles are leading academics, such as Robert George of Princeton, John Haldane of St. Andrews, and John Finnis of Oxford. It is also supported by many prominent politicians, including Anna Zaborska of the European Parliament and former French Cabinet Minister Christine Boutin.

The Articles were recently launched in Cebu City during the National Philippines for Life Congress. Among those present were former senator Francisco S. Tatad and Archbishop Jose Serofia Palma of Cebu. Tatad said the Articles boost the “fight against foreign-dictated contraception and sterilization.”

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CLIMATE OF HATE: We read an interview story in Zenit.org, the Vatican-based news agency, throwing some light into why hating appears to be too easy and forgiving too hard.

With hate and vengeance permeating the political climate in this country, it might help us understand the psychology of the situation listening to an expert explain why some people choose bitterness.

In Arlington, Virginia, Dr. Paul C. Vitz, associate professor and senior scholar at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences there, notes in the interview that hatred seems to be on the rise despite the fact that hatred “ferments within a person and prevents positive achievements.”

He says, “Hatred sort of ‘pickles’ a person, filling him with resentment, bitterness, and even depression. And of course it keeps people from doing anything positive with their life.”

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CAUSE FOR RAGE: Vitz says, “All you have to do is read the newspaper to see how active hatred is in our world today. It is also possible that the increase in narcissism and feelings of self-entitlement, so common in our country today, has led to an increase in the experience of anger, frustration, resentment and even hatred.

“After all, if you are the ‘most important person in the whole world’ and you subscribe to the Burger King philosophy of ‘Have it your way,’ any failure of others or the environment to satisfy you is cause for rage. Unfortunately, there are also many long-term consequences, and unending cycles of revenge are one of them.”

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MEDIA’S HAND: Below are excerpts from the interview with Vitz on hatred and its being a barrier to forgiveness.

Zenit: What does the psychology of hatred and forgiveness say to a planet increasingly marked by terrorism and by violent outbreaks in schools and other public places, such as last summer’s tragedy in Norway?

Vitz: What it says is that we had better find out why hatred is so common, and how to remove it, or at least reduce it greatly. On the other hand, one of the reasons for the general awareness of violence and hatred is the media’s love affair with it. Apparently most news is bad news, and certainly any report of violence and hatred seems to get into the media a thousand times faster than any report of love and forgiveness.

Now perhaps the media is just pandering to a kind of universal human nature. But I suspect that there is something special about recent history in this country and in much of the world that shows an increased preoccupation with hatred and violence. It would be interesting to do a study on the proportion of violent news items in today’s media, as compared to 100 or 150 years ago.

Zenit: You speak of hatred as something that, in some way, people enjoy. How can this be? And how can it be overcome?

Vitz: People certainly enjoy hatred, or it wouldn’t be so popular in the world’s literature, and on television and in movies today. In a temporary way, hatred makes you feel morally superior and gives you energy and purpose, but at the price of long-term debilitation. In many ways, interpersonal hatred is a kind of defense mechanism protecting the ego or narcissism of the individual.

As Christians, we all know that this interpersonal hatred is wrong, and was explicitly rejected by Our Lord. We are called to love our enemies, not hate them, as difficult as this is. This is a complex topic that needs much more coverage, and I have spoken about this elsewhere, but one good way to start overcoming hatred for your enemies is to pray for them.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 1, 2012)

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