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Op-Ed

What if?

As 2012 ends, and the new year starts, Rev. Richard R. Mickley, CDOS, OSAe, Ph.D. considers “what if” things turned out differently.

What if? What if we could spend Christmas thanking the God of caring and compassion that we have a new Reproductive Health Law in the Philippines? Thank you, God. Thank you, bold legislators. It was not a battle against the Roman Catholic Church. Lord, it was a move toward Your justice, Your Love, Your compassion.

And Senator Soto is obstructing the Conference Committee to reconcile the passed Senate and House bills. What if?

If we look around, what do we see? What if we look honestly at the cold, hard, uncaring, uncompassionate milieu of our world, notwithstanding the world-wide and impressive outpouring of support for the people of Newtown? What if we open our eyes to the injustice sprayed from invisible and visible automatic weapons around the world?

The emotion that President Aquino and President Obama expressed after the Connecticut massacre was admirable and thought-provoking.

What if they would recognize and be moved by and make pledges in behalf of the killings of 265 transgender people in 2012 alone (plus all the other years before)?

Where were they in November when the friends of transgender people mourned the 265 transgender victims of 2012?

The “Memorial Booklet” of GANDA Filipinas, the transgender advocates, lists the 265 “names” and recounts the grisly stories of their deaths – guns, guns, guns and burning, hanging, stoning, slashing, stabbing, throat cutting, strangling, beating, cutting the body into pieces, drowning, decapitation, buried alive.

“Each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people…[yet] even now deaths based on violence based on anti-transgender hatred or prejudice are largely ignored.”

My friend, what if? What if the world would mourn and act upon the senseless brutal slaughter of 265 innocent transgender people – as they so rightfully did for the insane killings of 20 innocent children and their hero teachers in Connecticut?

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What if? What if President Aquino and President Obama would have attended the November “Day of Remembrance” …”which publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through this vigil we express our love and respect for our people in the face of [inter]national indifference and hatred, [remembering] that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends, and lovers…memorializing those of us who have died by anti-transgender violence.”

Similarly what if they would have been awakened by the senseless murder of my friend Ito?

Now surely it is time to look at gun control. But what about “violence control”? Is mourning our brutally killed loved ones enough? What about action?

One action that has been languishing in the Congress longer than the RH Bill is the Anti-Discrimination Bill that penalizes behavior that discriminates against LGBT people.

All these years the members of the Congress have been shaking in their boots, quivering in fear of retaliation from those who hate condoms and would rather see people suffer and die.

Lord, thank you, I pray, that a majority of our legislators got the guts to give the people more importance than a church’s hatred of condoms. It’s so ironic, Lord — a church which claims to be Your church, which preaches love and practices prejudice and violence toward women and LGBT people.

Yes, deplorably, that’s what they do to LGBT people every day, every decade. Fr. John McNeil (SJ) tried to combat the prejudice from within. They rewarded him with expulsion. Jesus said, “Love.” Yet they influence people like Pacquiao to say, “Let them die.”

Yes, the Philippines is a non-violent culture. But today’s editorial in the Inquirer says something like, “slow down. Don’t forget the Ampatuan mass slaughter which is having such a slow trial now.”

What about more “subtle” violence in our culture? What about the religious violence, the societal violence, the cuddling, the promoting of a culture of hate and violence toward LGBT people?

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What if? What if the president, the congress and the people –- is it unimaginable? – what if they would love and respect women who love women and men who love men? And stop the violence? What if? Would it stop or slow down the suicides, murders, firings, evictions, senseless hate and hate crimes?

If the murders of 265 transgender people will not bring a tear to the world,
— what will?

The ecumenical church service that President Obama attended in Newtown was wonderful. We saw arm in arm, literally, Catholic and Muslim ministers, Protestant, Jewish, Anglican, B’Hai, Methodist, – arm in arm – praying and mourning together. It was impressive.

What if? What if they would unite for love and justice for LGBT people?

What if?

In the meantime in the Philippines we have five Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) and Catholic Diocese of One Spirit who preach and practice, not only ecumenical unity, but who follow and teach Jesus’ example of love and justice for all.

And that is especially for the marginalized, like Jesus did. He loved to make the marginalized, the hated Samaritans, heroes of his stories, such as the “Good Samaritan.” YET, that was in direct contradiction to the cultural practice of His “church” at the time.

Thank you, lawmakers who voted “yes.” You followed the example of Jesus – who put justice and the “right” first rather “wrong” practiced by His “church.”

What if? What if society would follow the example of the Way of Jesus – rather than the way of hate and prejudice?

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Our society could happily take a look at the way of Jesus with regard to another marginalized people in our society.

What if? What if you and I, our neighbors, our friends, and yes, our church, our whole society would stop chasing to the underground (a hidden life) people who have a certain virus.

My God, what did Jesus consistently do about the “sick” people in his life? The lame, the blind, the lepers? And what does our society do to people who have HIV? Stigma!!! Internet paints this picture:

Social stigma is the extreme disapproval of, or discontent with, a person on the grounds of characteristics that distinguish them from other members of a society. Stigma may attach to a person, who differs from social or cultural norms.

Social stigma can result from the perception or attribution, rightly or wrongly, of mental illness, physical disabilities, diseases such as leprosy (see leprosy stigma),[1] illegitimacy, sexual orientation, gender identity[2] skin tone, nationality, ethnicity, religion (or lack of religion[3][4]) or criminality. Attributes associated with social stigma often vary depending on the geopolitical and corresponding sociopolitical contexts in different parts of the world.”

Society does THAT to LGBT people every day. God forbid that LGBT people would join society in doing THAT to persons with HIV!

I even heard of a cemetery that refused to bury a person with HIV so as “not to contaminate the cemetery.” My God, science has told us that we can drink from the same cup, eat from the same fork? Why does this hate, stigma, fear, and nonsense continue. Why does it drive so many to close the doors of their homes and their hearts?

What if? What if society would follow the authentic example of the Love of Jesus (instead of inventing pseudo ways of hate and prejudice which are a mockery of Jesus by those pretending to follow His way)? Would an authentic follower of Jesus really practice “selective justice” or “selective caring” or “selective compassion”? Some get it; some don’t.

A step has been made in the fearless passage of the RH Law. The hate churches surely will intensify their campaign to prevent any more laws which are pleasing to Jesus, but opposed by the church.

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Speaker Belmonte has already announced the next arena. The Philippines and the Vatican are the only countries in the world which refuse their people the right to divorce. The Vatican is dominated by celibate priests, monsignors, bishops, cardinals and popes. They don’t have a problem with divorce for themselves – only divorce for people who need it. The people who need it are human beings who are human and have got stuck in a painful, shattering, perhaps destructive, unworkable marriage.

Every country recognizes that need except the Vatican and those who say “Opo” to the Vatican, that is, of course, the Philippine government in obedience to the Vatican’s bishops.

But what if?

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