February 2004 Vol. 4 Issue 2

An Internet Newsletter publication for all CIM Alumni and friends.

    Clem S. Estrera, Jr., M.D.

    Ma. Belen Rosales, M.D.
        Associate Editor

     Ray Castillejo, M.D.
    Binisaya Section Editor

Editor's Column

     "Arrogance is a dog that turns on its owner. Selfishness is a fire that consumes the one who started it. Bitterness is a trap that ensnares the hunter. But love is the choice that sets them all free." --Max Lucado

It's Only Love

Clem 1972

Biblical commandment, Spiritual advice
    We are admonished to love our neighbors as ourselves. It's the most important commandment in the bible, and yet, the most neglected. Or, it's the best advice mankind has ever had, but an advice that is constantly ignored, or taken for granted. Yet just imagine what a wonderful change would come over this world if everybody takes it seriously and makes a real effort to do it. Somehow it's much easier to envy our neighbors than to love them. We have to note, however, that we are told to love our neighbors as we do ourselves - not as we do our wives, or husbands and children. I guess this commandment considers our family as part of ourselves.

    So how do we love ourselves? Personally, I think we can love ourselves by respecting ourselves, by recognizing without condemnation our personal shortcomings, by forgiving ourselves for whatever mistakes we have committed without berating ourselves, by accepting just the way we are, by approving our ideals, and by constructive thinking about our ambitions and abilities. Applied to our neighbors, this kind of love requires us to be understanding and helpful; to be overflowing with good will; to appreciate fine qualities and creative abilities; and to recognize and respect the precious right to be different and of course respect other human rights too. The question is, is this love too much for anyone of us to offer to our neighbors?

    The problem with the society we live in, however, is that it has always been riddled with contradictions. We go to church on Sunday morning and pray to God that commands us to love one another as we love ourselves, and then few hours later, we get excited talking about others behind their back. Or, as soon as we are on our way home, we curse the driver in front of us for driving slowly and erratically without considering that the driver could be an old woman struggling with the steering wheel and the accelerator. Worse, the children are in the car with us. This is just one manifestation of our cultural schizophrenia, a form of insanity that affects many, but it's different from the pathological insanity in that it's so common it's considered normal.

Love and Happiness
    One of the nation's outstanding magazine editors who was intimately acquainted with most of the outstanding business leaders of his time, once said that the single regret most retired executives have is that they somehow got so wrapped up in their personal careers that they lost sight of the fact that men working for them were human beings, not machines. Many of them became work-centered and self-centered that the people around them felt used, but never appreciated. Some of these executives lost their friends and families all because of feelings that could not be reciprocated. For the only ones they loved deeply were themselves and the advancement of their careers. They had reached all their goals, but had lost the people who mattered most in their life. They admitted later on that they had ignored the basic human principle that people are for loving, not using; feelings need reciprocating, not regurgitating.

     Happiness, we are told, lies within us. Yet many of us must have discovered that happiness is made possible only by our willing involvement in the lives and experiences surrounding us. We see or realize that those who lead narrow, self-seeking, self-serving lives fail to discover happiness. We read people with money who killed themselves, cheated to make more money and not satisfied with all the millions they've got already. They often make us wonder why - why they have to cheat, or why they have to kill themselves, or why are they not happy with all the things and money they've got, and more? Then perhaps some of us must have discovered, or would soon discover that happiness lies beyond their reach because they've failed to reach beyond themselves. Written in the Ecclesiastes is this: "Woe to him that is alone when he falleth, for he hath not another to help him up."

Cultures, we can live without
     Our culture these days encourages us to think "I don't have time to waste on people... I don't need others....I can take care of myself... And what's in it for me, anyway?" But this kind of thinking would only lead us to the journey of loneliness. So wouldn't it be better if we deposit, like money, into our relationship account as much and as early as we can so we can have more to draw on later? Can you imagine being alone at the age when you need most the company of others especially your friends and families? You would want to tell stories, jokes, etc., but no one to tell them to. You have something to celebrate, but nobody to celebrate it with. Everything you had accomplished ends at your death, and no one would remember any of it.

    Culture carries no weight unless we let it. Its influence is limited to what we choose to accept from it. Cultures do not have value simply because they are. Some cultures, the world is better off without. There are cultures that make power to look like an ultimate goal to aspire, and corruption a tantalizing means to achieve it. They make wicked and unscrupulous individuals comfortable with fraud and deception, tricks and threats. Corruption and committing fraud and deception to achieve one's desire for power, are the fertile dirt of immorality from which sprout the tendrils of evil. Thus once power is acquired, these individuals seem to easily lose the compassion to handle it, to be free from its corrupting influence. They cannot retain their sense of balance with that power. They don't have the strength to hold it back when they should, and their sense of right loses its bounds. They develop a pathological lack of restraints.

    There are also some cultures that tolerate and even encourage certain groups of people to hold the best for their own kind, and allow no others the chance to prove themselves. These others would never have a chance to test their wings, let alone their spirit to lift proudly on the winds of hope.

    God does not create evil. I don't think so. He would not bestow upon us an evil soul. But we have as much potential for evil as anyone else, and also have the potential for good equal to anyone. In the best of us, there are thoughts or deeds that are wicked, and in the worst of us, at least some virtue. So what's it's gonna be is a choice we make. And no one is responsible for that choice and its consequences but the one who makes that choice. In this free society we belong to, we are free to think, to achieve what we desire for, to control our own destiny, to love and be loved in order to live happily ever after. Realistic? That's up to you.