Love for Country
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – Romans 13:8-10
When we were children, we saw the world as a mysterious yet exciting place where everything appeared larger than life. Our fathers taught us how to tie our shoe laces, play basketball, walk our dogs, and how to create DIY toys using available materials and tools around the house. Our mothers taught us to always keep our mouths closed every time we are chewing our food, incessantly reminded us to not draw or paint on the living room walls, and woke us up an hour too early every morning so as not to be late for school. Our grandparents taught us how to be gracious and patient towards our more stubborn and naughty cousins, and made sure that we get a treat or two every time we come to visit them in their house. Our fathers, mothers, and grandparents formed our village, our community that helped mold us to become better individuals. They loved us not only by providing for us but also by disciplining us. By their words and actions they were teaching us that life is not to be lived for our sake and that the world does not revolve around us. We learned faith, hope and love early on by the lives that they modeled to us when we were still trying to make sense with the world around us.
Remember the time when our mothers asked us to share our favorite chocolate with our little brother or sister? It surely hurt, man! How about the time when our fathers also disciplined us for the misbehavior of our younger siblings? That doubly hurt, man! Our parents taught us that we belong to a group, no matter how small or problematic that group was, and that we have a responsibility over it – to keep is safe, orderly, and thriving.
Looking back to our childhood, as we remember the moments of joy as well as the memories of discipline, we are led to reflect to a larger truth that we were not raised up to be men and women living for ourselves, that we are not islands with disconnected and autonomous motivations and persuasions but rather are like stones that form a greater edifice, or bricks that form a mighty fortress. We are part of a family, a village, a city, a nation. And when we apply to our adult lives the foundational lessons that our parents taught us growing up, we somehow get a sense that we were actually being prepared to become nation-builders early on in life. Accountability, sacrifice, compassion, leadership and followership were all taught to us when we were kids in the hope that we would be able to apply those values when we are grown up.
The great Siamese ruler, King Chulalongkorn would not have been a noble and deeply loved monarch if not for the life modeled by his father King Mongkut. Augustine of Hippo, one of the pillars of Christian theology would not have been the man whose heart was devoted to Christ if not for his mother Monica, a faithful Christian who continuously interceded for the redemption and restoration of her son after having spent his youth in hedonism. Jose Rizal would not have become the First Filipino whose death was Spain’s last victory if not for the compelling bedtime stories that his mother Teodora read to him when he was a child.
As children, we were recipients of love – love from our parents and our teachers. When the irresistible grace of Jesus flooded our lives, we became recipients of a love so amazing and so divine. As we are recipients of love, grace and forgiveness, we are likewise called to love our neighbor as we love ourselves – to actually lay our own lives for our brothers and sisters, our countrymen. Our country is a God-given stewardship. It is our duty to live our lives in such a way that our home here on earth, our motherland, will glisten with the light of heaven.