March 24, 1970
Third day of retreat
The meditations have been inspirational. “The Lord went into the darkness of the forest for his own test” was the theme of meditation this morning at 7:30 AM. I exercised and jogged inside the room for ten minutes (jogging); all in all about 15 minutes. It did not feel cold after that unlike yesterday morning when I did not exercise and felt chilly. Last night I was chilly and woke up at 4:30 AM.
It is my feeling that Father Jose Cruz the retreat master must think I might be breaking down under the pressures of the crisis and so the inspirational talks. I must thank him for it. He even spoke of the Manila Times slanting the headline yesterday “Marcos warns of martial law” which of course I did not as borne out by the body of the
story. Neither did Manila Chronicle help. It carried the headline “Marcos Threatens Martial Law” which was worse.
“Goodness may not be immediately appreciated but this is the test. History is a capricious mistress and does not guarantee that even if she allows you a historical role she will reserve even but a little space for you. But it is for one’s satisfaction that one does what is right even if unpopular. One small mistake and all the brilliant achievements in the past are forgotten.” His example – Rizal.
And I say we do what is right because of self-respect and integrity. Although a sense of history may propel us to do so, this is not the primary motivation, but pride in one’s integrity and in one’s self is a greater cause at times. Let me stand this suffering but Iet it be a suffering that will cure. Let it be the passion that will bring life.
For the cries of the evil ones are heard over the land. And I must often bear the lash of their tongues in silence even if I know they are wrong.
For time will bear me out. Of this I am sure as I am sure that my conscience tells me so.
Today it is fashionable to be aligned against the establishment and I symbolize it. So all kinds of men pick up the cry of protest against what could be actual causes of grievance like crookedness and pettiness in public service.
We listen to them knowing that the accusers are not any less guilty nor are they so nobly motivated. For there are indeed valid grounds for grievance and there are indeed rapacious, vicious and indolent men in the public service. And we must also rectify errors committed in the past.
But the past is a heavy legacy of all these ills – 400 years and more of apathy, indolence, viciousness, pettiness and indifference. Four hundred years the spirit had died –and now suddenly we must resuscitate it. Phoenix-like it must spring alive from the ashes of our frustrations and our failures. This miracle is my task. Or at least its beginning and birth is.
So I pray that I may be given the grace of inspiration, of wisdom, discrimination, dedication and courage to accomplish this task.
And I am strengthened as I hear the Lord say: Fear not. I am with you. You shall not fail. For you bear my words in your mouth and my courage in your heart.
Now I know why I could not order the shooting of the men who attacked Gate 4 of Malacañang on January 30th. They had attempted to burn the Medical Clinic, they had actually burned the fire truck with which the gate was rammed open as well as several vehicles and they had entered the compound where actually six were arrested.
But there flashed through my mind’s eye all the killings and the butchery that I had known and I had participated in what was legitimate combat and I recoiled at the memory of what may be useless waste of life.
The danger was there but it was not the danger that I had known in many a battle and paled into insignificance before the desperation of the last war and the underground.
And most of the attackers were irresponsible children who could have been our children.
I was never born to massacre babies.
However our military and some of the advisers say if an armed conflict as you say is inevitable why not provoke it now when we would have to kill less than later when the communists will be stronger and we would have to kill more of our own people.
Because it is still my hope that by legal action of the courts and restrained action against those engaged in actual violence we shall so weaken them and render them leaderless and debilitated they will never be able to mount an armed uprising.
And also because we must stabilize the currency and propel the economy forward with such momentum that no matter what the jolts, the quakes and the shocks, later on such inertia will carry our country forward inexorably.
Father Jose Cruz seems to have studied the problem of the militant youth although he claims that his views are merely those of an ordinary citizen.
He starts with the warning that the problem may not be as insurmountable or as serious as most people may think. Only 350 armed Huks, a base of legal cadres (he calls them part time fighters at night) of a thousand and a half and some mass base. But he says 85% of our people are quiet workers for our progress although they receive only 40% of the benefits derived from our development while the 15% that owns the greater portion of our wealth receive the 60% of such growth fruits. He feels that we must not allow the communists (he calls them the leftists) to win the 85% and they have not. For he feels that the wisdom and discrimination of this 85% of our people sees through the slogans of the leftists, “imperialism, fascism, feudalism.”
“In lieu of slogans we must give them issues and a dynamic ideology that is relevant to their lives. This dynamic Christian ideology that has to do with anything that is human. For it is through humanity that one approaches God.”
And the greater number look askance at the violence and the disorder formented by the radicals for it destroys all that they have been working for. But this 85% is under tension and gropes for answers which we must furnish them. Thus the courageous dedicated leadership that will guide and reassure.