a gun and a prayer

Just finished a rant on Twitter about not wanting to go to an Easter Vigil with my mom.

“Good homily,” she texted me, “join me.”

If it’s going to be by the priest who said that we Filipinos are exempt from something as huge as the recent Japan earthquake and tsunami, I’m staying home, thank you very much.

The priest’s reasons why he thinks the Filipinos won’t be “punished”? We’re “mabait,” we haven’t lost our “spirituality”, compared to the Japanese’ “stoicism” and “focus on technology”, and Japan has produced some of the most horrific torture methods on earth (WHAT?).

First, why emotionalize what happens in Mother Nature? She/God/The Great Boddhisattvas of Beginningless Time won’t stop destruction from happening because we mortals are “good”. Birth and re-birth of the earth happens in cycles: the Ice Age, the Great Flood, Atlantis. And even so, the “good” people had to prepare too—that’s why Noah built the frickin’ Ark.

“So no,” he assured his audience. “It won’t happen to us.”

Who said? Did God come down the night before and re-assure him? Did Jesus send him a text? Ondoy happened. Peping happened. Before that, Milenyo and Rosing and many others. Not as huge as the Japan earthquake, sure, but there might not be a more disempowering and irresponsible statement as: “everything’s going to be all right, God won’t let anything bad happen to you”—and I mean that in a good way.

It gives us a false sense of security. It makes us leave things to chance. It makes us less prepared, less responsible for what we can do to avert such things (see above reference to Noah’s Ark). Don’t get me wrong—even the best-prepared among us will go if it’s time to go. This has nothing to do about lack of faith. (In all humility, I’d like to say I have a good amount of faith.) But God allows bad things to happen to good people, and good things to bad people—and who can really say why? You can say they happen for a reason, to pay off karmic debt, you can string together all the clichés…who knows? 

Who’s to say the Japan earthquake happened because the Japanese are less kind, harder-of-heart than we are? Anyone and everyone who watched the news saw how generous and gentle they were to each other in times of crisis. They left stores alone even when they had the chance to loot them. I’ve interviewed people who did relief operations after Ondoy, and they all say that at a certain point they felt like it was the zombie apocalypse. At least three groups have told me they high-tailed it out of the relief sites for fear of losing their lives. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to arm myself with both a gun and a prayer if a major disaster hits and those zombies come beating on my door because they chose to believe reassurances like “mabait tayo, walang mangyayari sa atin”, instead of hauling ass, and preparing intelligently.

Happy Easter.

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