PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Monday, November 11, 2013

 

Survivor’s guilt

I am hunkered down on my laptop typing this, while millions of people don’t know what to think and feel, in a daze, if not floating, “like zombies,” as a newspaper report puts it.

I have something to eat -- I can even gorge on my favorites -- while others don’t know where to have their next meal.

I have a family and lots of friends; a lot of people lost theirs.

I have a roof under my head; a lot of people lost everything.

I look forward to coming home to my family in Pangasinan this Christmas. Many fellow Filipinos in the Visayas don’t even know the whereabouts of their family and friends, and their homes were literally displaced.

I can lie down in my own soft bed, while others only have cardboards or none at all on the pavement.

I have a few appliances and furniture around; I can watch TV on my (ratty) sofa, listen to music on the radio, blog, check Facebook, post pictures of food and good times. Other people have lost everything; they can only stare at one another and the ether.

I am not seriously ill, and my limbs are complete; a lot of people are not so fortunate.

I am alive, while dead bodies “litter the streets of (and the sea off) Tacloban City.”

I see all the positive things in me and around me as God’s blessings, and for all these, I am thankful.

But what have I done, or have not done, to deserve being spared like this? I guess none. And the assumption of being spared is quite incorrect. My family has been through a great flood at least once, which fouled up everything in the first floor of our old house. We routinely get the scare of their lives, too, now and then, no thanks to innumerable typhoons that come without fail each year. We have suffered power blackouts for stretch of days or weeks. We have been hospitalized as a family, for debilitating amoebiasis.

As for myself, I have been ‘punished’ severely of late, no thanks to hypertension and my maintenance medicine’s many side effects as well as palpitations and panic attacks.  If you are not familiar with these ills, you may scoff at this part of my litany. Well, here’s a brief description: suffering these ailments is like going through death throes over and over again. And, oh, on top of this, I have lost my full-time job, thank you very much! Going way, way back, I was traumatized for life by the great earthquake in Baguio City in July 16, 1990. (Since I was able to memorize the date, maybe I have moved on?)

With my own share of earthly sufferings, I am not inclined to interpret tragedies and calamities as punishments of an angry and vengeful God. If I must go Biblical about it, I can run to the solace of these two passages:

Luke 13:1-5: Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

John 9:1-3: As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

Now what have other people done to be visited by such a tragedy? I honestly don’t know. Far be it from me to judge. I choose to trust instead that God knows and has allowed it for a reason, and knowing how much He loves His own creation, the reason is not anger or desire for vengeance, because being unreasonable and judgmental and vindictive are against the very nature of God.

Despite all these, I still feel guilty for being alive. It will certainly make me feel bad to feel good and in a partying mood at this time. No food pics for now on Facebook, and definitely no lavish Christmas parties and gifts to self. (I can't afford it at the moment anyway.) The least I can do now is volunteer help. Or donate anything. Or volunteer prayers, prayers for miracles and mercy.



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