SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI
(Thus passes the glory of the world)
I will remember the third SONA of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (for a long time) for two things: First, for his words: “Your (i.e. human rights advocates and the Church) concern is human rights, mine is human lives.” Second, for GMA’s deed, that is, sitting on the chair intended for the Speaker of the Lower House after she and her colleagues staged a coup in the most deplorable and despicable way.
How can we separate human rights from human lives? “Is not the right to life the most basic human right,” as Bishop Ambo David clearly puts it? They are very much intertwined that we can’t speak of one without the other.
But I will not dwell so much on that because I have the impression that the President just wants to highlight that the lives of the ‘innocents’ are far more precious than the lives of the drug users. Human life is sacred without distinction. And no one has the right to kill, not even the State, because we are not the author of human life.
The chair on which GMA sat, like any other chair, is symbolic. The chair stands for power and status. That is why the one who presides is called a Chairperson. The more grandiose the chair is, the higher the position of the person is. On the contrary, the poor without power and influence sit on the ground, on empty buckets put upside down, or on any piece of wood available.
However, it is not so much of the fact that GMA sat on that chair that was not supposed to be hers, but the inordinate attachment to power, grabbing it at all costs and at any given opportunity, even at the expense of the signing of the Bangsa Organic Law.
And here lies the difference between (many) politicians and Church leaders in the present time. Popes and bishops come and go without power struggle and drama. Benedict XVI is a living example of a servant-leader who knows when to let go of the chair because real power is not sitting on the throne, but hanging on the Cross. If our politicians can only let go of power when their time comes, our country would be a better place to live in.
But all power and glory are like bubbles that disappear even with a sneeze. Sic transit GLORIA mundi, even if that GLORIA is the one who clings to the chair without the mace.
by FR. ELIAS AYUBAN, CMF