Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 15 July 2019
This is not another homily about yesterday’s Parable of the Good Samaritan. I am very sure you have heard so much about it. In fact, you must have memorized that parable, too. And most likely, you also believe there is nothing else new in that parable. Its conviction remains true that we are all neighbors, that the question we must be asking is not “who is my neighbor” but, “do I act as a neighbor to others”?
However, in this complicated age of tweets and hashtags when everything is shortened, either abbreviated or initialized, the question “who is my neighbor” has become very legitimate again these days when technology has taken the center stage of our lives and relationships.
Two months ago I officiated the wedding of a friend’s youngest brother who sent me a gist of their “love story” that I may incorporate in my homily. Fact is, I have already worked out the outline of my homily for his wedding except that I really had a hard time deciphering the meaning of the three letters he had mentioned about their love story: “LDR”.
After several minutes, I finally got what he meant with those letters that stand for “Long Distance Relationship”.
Okay, I admit being too old for those kind of talkies with so many abbreviations that litter Facebook posts from “OMG” to “ootd” with a host of other letter combinations that I really do not understand at all even when given with their meanings.
This sudden surge in usage of so many abbreviations and initials is spawned by modern technologies in communication that still continue to evolve. Truly, the medium is the message. When we were growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, typewriters reigned supreme. We knew only two important abbreviations that time, “cc” for “carbon copy” and “asap” for “as soon as possible”.
With the demise of Messrs. Remington and Underwood following the rise of PC’s and Macs along with smartphones that all use the venerable “qwerty” board of old, we are now deluged with all of these initials and abbreviations. At least, those hardly used signs on the typewriter keys like @, #, and _ finally came more alive in this age of dot.coms.
There is nothing wrong with these developments but when these abbreviations and initials as well as signs and symbols are applied onto humans, problems begin to happen. This is when people are “materialized” while things are “personalized”. See how the benighted souls on television, from program hosts and celebrities to journalists using the Filipino personal pronoun “siya” for he/she/his/her when speaking of food and typhoons like “masarap siya” (he/she is delicious) or “siya ay magbubuhos ng ulan” (he/she will pour rains). How insanely they use the Filipino demonstrative pronoun “ito” or this for persons like “ito ang nanay ko” (this is my mother instead of she is my mother) or “ito ang mahal ko” (this is my beloved instead of he/she is my beloved)!
You see how we have now come to regard persons as things and things as persons?
And worst, we now see persons as food to be eaten and consumed when good looking men and women are described as “yummy” and “delicious”. It is utilitarianism at its worst when people are seen like food as if they are good only when “fresh, hot and tasty” but when already old and sickly, they are regarded like leftovers kept on the fridge, even discarded. In the same manner, see how in our country we take people like ice cream with those belonging to the “AB” crowd or the rich and famous as “flavor of the month” or “all-time favorite” while those from the lower segment of the society, the “CDE” or “chineleas-duster-estero” crowd as “dirty ice cream” or sorbetes.
Here lies the legitimacy of the question who is my neighbor? — when we not only shorten words for the sake of convenience and do the same to persons, shortchanging them with the respect and dignity we all deserve.
A friend and fellow blogger recently wrote a piece about the growing number of young people who are so inconsiderate in using specific lanes and counters reserved for seniors and PWD’s in malls and stores. Even in churches, there are also inconsiderate, and hypocrite or unChristian, able-bodied people occupying pews reserved for seniors and PWD’s, claiming they will just leave and move when they arrive?! How I really feel like adding to our notes that “This pew is reserved for seniors and PWD’s. And morons too.”
How ironic that in this age when almost everyone is supposed to be tech savvy, being able to read every sign and logo yet refuse to respect give way to our seniors and PWD’s. Here is a classic case of us having smartphones but not so smart people, guided missiles and misguided children. They are like the Levite and the priest in the parable of the Good Samaritan who simply “saw” the victim lying on the road, failing to see him as another person in need. Unlike the Samaritan who saw the victim and was moved with compassion to help him.
The question “who is my neighbor” becomes more legitimate and pressing when we in the Church, in our own homes and family are overtaken by things of the world, from money and gadgets to fame and convenience that we not only forget one another but ultimately Jesus Christ our Lord and Master.
When we are more concerned with raising funds or earning money for more buildings, more gadgets, for more privileges and convenience, becoming vain even if beyond our means or not in our calling and state of life, that is when people start asking again “who is my neighbor” because nobody seem to care anymore. No one is with compassion and mercy anymore that everybody seem to have become robots and sadly, inhuman when all we see are things than persons.
The Church since Vatican II has always seen these modern means of communications as gifts from God meant to be used for the the “advancement and unity” of man (Communio et Progressio). Let us put technology and things at their proper place. And that is always at the service of mankind and glory of God.