My Holy Week column takes off from a women’s group’s call earlier this month for women of faith to resist tyranny. As we recall Our Lord Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, we must not forget that his death on the cross was by the hands of Roman secular, and Jewish religious, tyrants.
This is the right call except that it should be a call also for men of faith. Also, I must add that the call should be for all activists of faith not to work singly but to band together in resisting tyranny. As Edmund Burke has said: “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”
“Bad men combine” to impose their will on the good. Thus, it is not enough for good men and women to do something. They must also “associate” and oppose the evil of tyranny as one.
There is just one more misgiving I have on an unclarified presumption behind the call. What tyranny women of faith are encouraged to resist is unclear; but it can be safely presumed to be the current tyranny of the extreme right, of the ruling elite that controls production and distribution of the nation’s wealth exclusively in their favor.
Christian faith-based social activism’s ultimate goal is justice and peace as the main avenue towards “the bigger good to the greater number.” In the Philippines we must resist the tyranny of the extreme right as it gives the bigger good to the lesser number.
We cannot, however, forget the tyranny of the extreme left which has to be equally resisted. This group is fighting the tyranny of the right primarily to capture state power and impose their variety of tyranny on people. In fact, their violent and deceptive mode of fighting the tyranny of the right is already tyrannical as it considers individuals as expendable, “sacrifice-able,” on the altar of godless ideology and armed revolution.
Women and men who resist tyranny as motivated by their Christian faith must clearly distinguish themselves from those who are motivated by a godless and violent ideology. Jesus Christ, who allowed secular and religious tyrants to do violence to his person, never advocated for anybody to do violence to his/her neighbor. Faith-based groups must, therefore, resist the temptation of violence and work for peaceful, democratic reforms of Philippine society.
Faith-based activists must resist the tyranny of both the right and the left. But they must avoid the “red-tag” by clearing up the blurred lines separating them from Marxist ideologues. The latter are for violent capture of state power. Men and women of faith must seek social reforms in Christ’s unequivocal way of justice and peace.
May we rise to new life in Christ on Easter Sunday and onwards.