On Ash Wednesday
March 02, 2017
Dr. Jo-Ed K. Tirol
Several Ash Wednesdays ago at the Church of the Gesu, Fr. Louie David, S.J., talked about that the beginning of Lent must not be seen as a fear of death, as mistakenly represented by the ash on one's forehead.
Rather, he said, Ash Wednesday is a celebration of life. After all, the mere fact that one is born at all is a miracle. No individual "deserves" to be born. There is no entitlement to birth, and yet here we are. Every single one of us, regardless of colour, gender, social class, intelligence.... is a unique contribution to a reality of existence, to a universe of possibility.
, our congressmen, whose motives we do not want to speculate, for fear of delving the depths of human cowardice, have decided to make Ash , THIS particular Ash of this particular administration, a reminder of death.
What we have witnessed, in a dubious display of voting procedures, reminiscent of the so-called series of referendums of the Martial Law justifying everything from the very declaration of that dark era to the extension of one man's power, is yet another nail to a growing coffin of violence, impunity, and death.
By restoring the death penalty, or at least bringing us closer there - our wonderful Senators are next in line with an opportunity to show spine, or lack thereof - we are reminding ourselves once more how little we have learned from our past.
To put death back as a punishment option in our legal system insults once more the very foundations of what makes us a democracy - the respect for life, of every single life. Bad enough that extra-judicial killings are tolerated if not encouraged, bad enough that there are bounties for eliminating so-called drug addicts.
To save one life, is to save a universe. To end one life, is to claim omnipotence. To end one life is the ultimate arrogance. To end one life, changes us all.
Dust to dust, ashes to ashes, death after death.
Dr. Jo-Ed K. Tirol is an assistant professor at the Department of History of the Ateneo de Manila University.