Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The God of Freedom

"Those who profess to favor freedom
and yet deprecate agitation
are men who want crops without
plowing up the ground;
they want rain without thunder and
lightning.
They want the ocean without the
awful roar of its waters.
This struggle may be a moral one
or it may be a physical one
or it may be both moral and physical
but it must be a struggle.
Power concedes nothing without a
demand
It never did, and never will."

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God of freedom-Rev. Luna L. Dingayan
“I’m sending you to the king of Egypt so that you can lead my people out of his country.” — Exodus 3:10


The Exodus story
The Biblical Exodus Story is about the liberation of the Israelites from the bondage of slavery in Egypt by God’s Almighty hand. It is a very significant event in Israel’s history because it marks the beginning of Israel as a nation. Israel has become a nation out of a people who have experienced slavery and therefore should know what it means to be free.
There was a time when the Israelites were treated nicely in Egypt. But when political hegemony had changed, the Israelites became a threat to the Egyptian Pharaoh. Hence, they were treated as slaves to prevent them from growing in number and from taking over the reigns of government. This was the historical context of the emergence of Moses as a leader. In his attempt to defend the rights of a slave treated harshly before his eyes, he killed one of the Egyptian slave drivers. To escape from the Egyptian authorities, he fled to Midian, where he married one of the daughters of the priest there and reared a family of his own.
Moses, however, could not escape from the truth of what was happening in Egypt. He was inwardly disturbed by the sufferings of the people he left behind. Thus, he realized God’s call for him to go back to Egypt to set the Israelis free. He felt within himself a burning desire to free his own people from the bondage of slavery.


Philippine exodus
Like the Israelites of old, we are also experiencing today our own exodus as a nation. We have also our own march to freedom. Genuine freedom as we know is never given on a silver platter. It has to be struggled for. It has to be paid for and nurtured by the sweat and blood of freedom-loving people.
To be free is not just to have a flag of our own; it is not just to celebrate Independence Day every year. To be truly free as a nation is to be able to determine our own destiny as a people. 
As long as our destiny as a nation is dictated from outside; as long as many of our people are squatters in our own native land; we are not truly free.
It would be good for us to take a brief look at our own history as a nation, and try to understand it in the light of the Exodus Story.
For almost four hundred years, we suffered in the hands of Spanish colonizers. We fought hard until we were able to drive them out of our land. However, General Emilio Aguinaldo sold our country to the Americans for twenty million dollars.(Historically incorrect. The Spaniards sold the Philippine territories for that amount behind the backs of our native revolutionary forefathers -Bert). 

We would not like to be colonized once again. Thus, we fought the Americans, our new colonizers. Almost one-half of our nation’s total population at that time was massacred in the so-called Filipino-American War.

  • American missionaries and teachers were sent to our country to help in the pacification campaigns
  • Our key leaders were also sent to study in American universities as scholars and learn the American way of life. 
  • Schools, hospitals, and churches were established to help in the spread of American language, culture, and religion.
  • Americans also taught us their own politics and economics. 
  • Being an American colony, we were forced to join World War II.
  • We bravely fought our perceived enemies not only to defend our land, but also to defend our colonizers. Our country became a battlefield. 

Yet after the war, we were left alone to rebuild our own country destroyed and ravaged by a war not of our own making.
The Americans gave us our “independence" that was later on rejected and declared as farcical. 

But before giving us our “independence," the Americans saw to it that the Parity Rights and the Laurel-Langley Agreement were part of the laws of our land. Parity rights as we know gave Americans exactly the same rights that were supposedly reserved for Filipinos.
The Laurel-Langley Agreement provided Americans the right to put up their own military bases in our country. American military bases were used to protect American economic and strategic interests not only in our country but also in all of Asia.
From the 1960’s to the 70’s, American indirect control over our country was weakened due to the growing spirit of nationalism and the people’s mass movement. As a result, the Parity Rights was terminated and the Laurel-Langley Agreement was supposed to be terminated in 1973. All these moves sent a wrong signal to the American government.
Martial Law was declared. And the first to congratulate then President Marcos were the American Ambassador to the Philippines and the staff of the U.S. Embassy. Then, one of the first decrees issued by President Marcos was to open our country to foreign investors and to postpone the termination of the Laurel-Langley Agreement to 1991.
Consequently, our country began to experience a deepening economic crisis. Our foreign and domestic debts rose up to staggering billions of dollars.
Many of our promising young men and women were imprisoned, tortured or even killed.
With the use of people’s power, the Marcos Regime came to an end and a new government was installed.

However, the old fetters that chained our country for so long remained. Thus, we continue to sink deeper and deeper into the quagmire of poverty.


Filipino Moses
Today we really need Filipinos who, like Moses, have a burning desire to love and care for our own country and people.
Sometime ago the Philippine Christian University did a survey among its candidates for graduation. One of the questions asked was on what the students would do after graduation. It was found out that eighty-five percent of the students would like to leave our country. It’s really sad to realize that many of our young men and women would not think that our country could provide them a bright future.
The Exodus Story is saying to us that the God we believe in is a God of freedom, and that He calls us to live as free men and women, and to be instruments of freedom. He said to Moses: “I have seen the afflictions of my people, I have heard their cries, and therefore, I have come down to deliver them from their slave drivers…I am sending you to the King of Egypt so that you can lead my people out of his country”(Ex. 3:7-10).
God knows that to be an instrument of freedom is not that easy. Hence, God said to Moses, “I know that the King of Egypt will not let you go unless he is forced to do so. But I will use my power and will punish Egypt by doing terrifying things there. After that he will let you go”(Ex.3:19-20).
We should always bear in mind that in our struggle for genuine freedom God will never forsake us. God said to Moses, “I will be with you” (v.12).
Our country’s exodus towards genuine freedom continues. Her victory will depend so much upon all of us, especially to us who truly believe in the God of freedom. #
#philippines

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