Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bampira sa Kapilya — Do I, actually, hate God?

What can men do against such reckless hate? - King Theoden, The Two Towers (film) 

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? - I John 4:20 (KJV)

It had been a very stressful trip. We had to leave immediately after midnight, Melbourne time (9 pm Philippine time) on 12 December and we touched down at Kuala Lumpur at almost 7 am local time (also 7 am Philippine time). It meant we traveled almost 9 hours instead of the expected 8 hours, because the turbulence was dreadful.

The entire time, we couldn't sleep. Not because of the flight—I can sleep anywhere even on a turbulent flight. But for some reason Malaysian Airlines thought it was fun waking us up regularly to feed us meals in the wee hours of the morning.

In Kuala Lumpur, our next flight should have left at 10 am. It, instead, left at just passed 2 o'clock (the time when we should have touched down in Manila). While we were there, we used the free Wi-Fi to Skype to everyone, her family and mine, that our flight was rescheduled two times and that we had to get a lunch voucher from the airlines so we can be fed. We tried sleeping, Ærynn and I, but couldn't, as we had to be alert to any changes to our assigned gate. Imagine being up from 7 am to 2 pm after almost no sleep.

We finally arrived around 5 pm. Of course, there was the customs and all the other stuff one must do before finally being able to get out. Then one must contend with the airport staff falling all over themselves to do you a "service", all in the hopes of getting a generous tip.

By the time we had gone out it was almost 6 pm. Ærynn and I were deeply concerned. We had another flight tomorrow that would require us to wake up at 4 am (we were flying to Negros Oriental for a few days stay)—we were not so concerned about ourselves so much but about how we were now hours late to pick up my mother (who was going with us). It was just our luck that we now have to contend with the Manila late afternoon rush hour and we had to drive all the way to Batasan.

When we met Ærynn's mum, we found that she hadn't gotten the message from home that we would be this delayed and had been waiting for us since 2 pm. She was happy to see us, however, and was only dreading the long drive again through Manila traffic. Unfortunately we had no choice.

A month ago, we had distributed a spreadsheet of our (ideal) itinerary to everyone: Ærynn's parents and sister, and my brothers. Weeks ago, F- said that he wouldn't be there to meet us since he would have commitments that day, so our plans was just to be fetched by Æ's mom and pick up my mom; F-had, at almost the last moment however, cancelled his commitments so he can prepare a meet up with us that afternoon and we were now four hours late.

But, as already observed, we had no choice and had to go on ahead. We can only pick mum up, as we had to repack when we got to Æ's old home for only a few days stay (we can't bring the entire 3 week stuff with us to Siaton in Negros Oriental, of course) and we had to do it early in the evening so we can wake up early enough to not be late for the flight.

Did we mention that we had just had a very terrible travel experience so far? We were tired, feeling ill because of the air and we had another flight ahead of us. Surely F- would understand us merely picking our mum up now. Surely he can understand since he, too, had been on international flights. Surely he can understand how tired Æ's mom is by now. Surely he can see how there just isn't any more time through no fault of our own. It is only reasonable.

Apparently, at least to F-, it wasn't.

While we were away in Negros, away from any internet connection whatsoever, away trying to relax in what was our first vacation home in almost 6 years (the two prior times we had been back were not so much vacations as visits because of unhappy circumstance: my father's illness, at first, then my father's death), this gem was written by F- on his Facebook wall:

We discovered this little "gem" weeks later, after we had already gone home to Melbourne with my mom to visit us here. I have, of course, blurred the names out to protect the supposedly innocent. I have colour-coded the individuals, however: F- is the red box, with the various individuals as unique colours. I do not trust myself to translate any of this into English—my distress and outrage might not allow me to give them a fair go. I also sat on this for months, hoping the distress would go away... hoping that, maybe, now that F- has thought it over he will set the matter straight with his friends.

He, as of this writing, has not.

It was actually Æ who discovered this. She had had a good time with F- and his family, especially his two daughters. She was amazed at how smart and precocious they were, especially becoming close to the youngest for she had said to Æ: "Why do you live so far away? I wish you were here all the time because I like you both." Æ had been trawling through all of F-'s old FB wall posts, trying to find how the youngest's name is spelled, and stumbled on this.

Her first reaction was that, surely, he could not have meant us. But the date and time of posting it were clear, and this terribly shocked her—she had never encountered anybody being like this to her personally. In soap operas, yes, but not in real life.

When I saw this, my heart had sunk. My wife had had dealings with him for years and did not have a high opinion of him, and for years afterward I had been trying to rehabilitate his image to her... even going so far as to say to her "Please love him, for my sake... he is my brother." All this, of course, was despite the severe trouble in my heart—F- had never missed an opportunity to humiliate me in front of his friends or my friends, quick to take credit for anything and always putting me down. So many times, as well, has he let not only me but our family down. I knew him, in short, only too well.

I had hoped to rehabilitate his image to my wife because I wanted to rehabilitate it also to me. Why? Because of that verse, I John 4:20: "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?"

That is a very clear injunction: one cannot love God, whom one has not met, talked to and lived with, if one cannot love a brother one has lived with, talked to and argued with. There are also those things that Christ said about how if one has anything against a brother, it should be patched up before offering any sacrifice.

But is not as simple as having to love a brother because of duty... I wanted to love him because he was my brother. When he was small, I made him toys out of clothes pins, cooked him food when he was hungry... later giving him a percentage of my income for a time because he had no work. I had also given him his start as a professional voice talent—whenever such opportunities presented themselves to me (for me on numerous occasions) I always insisted that they bring F- along, too.

I wanted to love my brother, but because of his behaviour to me and others, it was so easy to hate him; but when Christ commanded us to love, he did not say we love only those who are worthy of it.

But this last one? Granted, he did not name us specifically in this public post, but he implied that he will divulge identities in private messages. In his first post, he strung us up to dry! He even had the gall to show that he was the injured one. Like Darcy regarding Wickham, I have never had the happy talent of being able to make as many happy followers as he, focusing instead on keeping the quality of what few friendships and acquaintances I had... but I had never had to feel that somewhere someone was poisoning the well and tarnishing our reputations without us having the opportunity to present our side.

But this was what happened.

I ask you, if somebody had been telling you for weeks that they will be too busy to meet up with you then suddenly changing their minds at nearly the last minute after other plans have been made... and those other plans go awry and none of the plans go ahead as scheduled, would you feel the other person was justified in holding it against you?

But that's what F- did: he even said to "yellow box" that he wished he had not given us the time of day considering we were like "vampires entering a chapel" who couldn't wait to leave. We knew he had other commitments, and planned otherwise... when he changed them, we would have gone ahead and met with him if we could... but that's the key word here: we couldn't.

We couldn't defend ourselves either: "orange box", "pink box" and "black box" were not friends of ours on FB, "yellow box" was a friend, but like Mrs. Bennet with Wickham she thinks the world of F-... I mean, really, what could I have said, the poisoned well, to them? "Pink box" already has pre-judged us without knowing us, saying we behave as if we are rock stars (which F- is quick to point out, untruthfully, as how we see ourselves). "Black box", who was a brief acquaintance of mine whom I don't know well, claims he knows me and my wife well enough to feel for F-.

Even if we had seen this immediately (which we didn't) our protestations would not have been seen as setting the record straight as much as indicting us of the very accusation brought up... not like we could have written to comment since I found, weeks later during F-'s birthday, that I had been blocked from writing on his wall at all—I only wanted to greet him a Happy Birthday.

But I had hoped that, eventually, F- would set the record straight as publicly as he demonized us: on his FB wall. I mean, surely, Mom would have explained to him? Surely he—having had to go to Singapore (a one hour flight), found that he was too tired to even make it to his out-of-the-way home and had to stay for a little while at his in-laws—surely he would understand by now that it was no deliberate slight and would tell those same, patronising friends how mistaken he was about our intentions.

Yet, he hasn't. More than three months later, he hasn't. Even after my mother had gone home, he hasn't.
When in Oz... During the Holy Week, the big events would be the Holy Communion on the night of Maundy Thursday (so named because it was the night Christ gave the Mandatum Novum, or the New Commandment to love one another) and the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday morning (even for Protestants).This contrasts with how in the Philippines and a lot of Pinoy congregations here, it is the Seven Last Words that is the main event.

We sat on this for so long. We live, after all, in Australia now. We have left all that behind. Most of that "joy fellowship" he so plainly said he would have rather been with are actually unknown to us and do not know us. So what if they thought we were these snobbish people?

But the hate and the guilt remains... I do not want to hate, but I do. And God, watching always, knows this. How do I make it right when I have tried so hard, so often, so long? I have no witnesses, of course, since I disagree that airing such family troubles to friends is not the way to go (until tonight, obviously)... but I have. I have tried to be a good brother and uncle, but I keep failing. How can I not hate the more worse sinner nearby but do my own flesh and blood, even if I have every reason to hate but every incentive not to hate?

As I said, I sat on this for so long, as it concerned only me. But, after chatting with my twin just tonight and comparing notes, I found that he, too, had undergone numerous little humiliations (easily passable as jokes or just fooling around). More cause to hate, but what can I do? I know I have written this post with an obvious bias towards ourselves, but really, what other point-of-view would I have? I cannot understand why F- just won't understand.

How can I love God if I hate my brother so, despite my every intention of loving him? Tonight, I don't have any answers, only hate... but, still, a little yearning to have true, unconditional love.

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? - Romans 7:24 (KJV)