Sunday, January 29, 2012

When Smiling Does a Lot and Silence Says More

"...we shouldn't be angry at the people who use, curse, ridicule, or betray us. Instead, we must pray for them because they might be undergoing something we don't know. They might be deeply wounded or confused or lost."

Many of us are familiar with the itching provocative feeling when a friend or a relative uses us for his/her advantage. I myself have my own fair share of such stories.

I am naturally an expressive and frank person. But there are just those moments when I simply choose to just smile and be silent no matter how hurtful or provoking the circumstance is.

I believe it is God working inside me. It isn't my normal response then--either I talk with the person in private or I would be indifferent because of pride.

I have been betrayed by a close friend when we were in high school. She used my name for her to get what she wanted and even tried to stain my reputation by giving statements that she said was from me. I was totally clueless. Good thing, another friend who knows me so well thought that she was so sure I couldn't be involved in that situation and told me about it. Another instance was when another close friend used my name to cover up her situation. She looks naive and sweet, nobody would ever think that it was really her who did such thing--and with my outgoing, outspoken, extrovert personality, everybody would think it was me who's the suspect.

The particular things they did to me were so provoking that I wanted to confront them flat to their faces. But I opted not to. I didn't know what was going on inside me that I preferred not to defend myself; rather, I chose to just smile, just be silent, and pray for prudence and peace that I urgently need.

Time passed. Now I realized situations of same the nature—provoking, tormenting, hurting, and saddening—happen in our lives so we may appreciate even more the support of our families, who as sure as the sun will rise will emerge and console us; know our true friends; receive the grace of self-discipline; and obtain emotional maturity and strength in character in the midst of torrents of feelings running through our veins.

I learned tonight from a Bible reflection that we shouldn't be angry at the people who use, curse, ridicule, or betray us. Instead, we must pray for them because they might be undergoing something we don't know. They might be deeply wounded or confused or lost.

If we truly want to see ourselves as people who are living upright lives (that we even assess our projected integrity), then we must start from within and take the upward steps of forgiveness and understanding to make it real and meaningful.

Whenever people put you down or pick holes in you, just smile. Forgive even if you don't understand why. In your quiet moment, understanding from heaven will descend upon you. Then, your silence will radiate the peace that you hold and will speak to the heart of the one who hurt you in ways you cannot imagine, because God will work it out for you if you just surrender the situation to Him.

As King David said in 1 Sammuel 16: 11-12 , "Leave him alone; let him curse for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today."

In Psalm 3:3-5 David says, "You are a shield around me, O Lord; You bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from His holy hill. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me."

In Psalm 4:4 David says, "In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds search your hearts and be silent."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ease With Legalese: Invoking a Valid Self-Defense

"It is good that we may be freed from criminal and civil liabilities; but it is always better to be cautious and prudent to avoid unfortunate events, or at least minimize inevitable circumstances; and it is best to know the law and our vested rights and obligations in order that we may apply well the common sense God has planted in every one of us and develop it into wisdom."

A playmate throwing his hand upwards, then Gigi suddenly fling her Chun Li stunt at his chest.

A brother foot-kicks Juan, then Juan suddenly gives his brother a clout.

A friend shocked you from behind, then you grab his shirt and spat him hard.

A suspicious looking guy leans at Roy while in a crowded train, then Roy suddenly lands a whack at his back.

Many times we say or hear the words, “What I did was just a self-defense.” And we think we are already justified. Our guilt would just evaporate and we then feel relieved.

The concept of self-defense has become very popular to us, that even children use them as an excuse to justify their behaviors. We think self-defense is, as the word says it, a measure to protect ourselves.

I remember when I was in college, friends belonging to fraternities even bring their pipes or clubs, or even ballpens, to use as their “self-defense” tool.

In the language of law, self-defense is man’s natural instinct to protect himself, repel an attack of aggression, and a lawful means to save himself, his property, or right from impending danger. Self-defense is treated by law as an act justifying our [supposed to be] punishable act but due the concept of self-preservation incurs no criminal liability. Self-preservation is a basic impulse born to every man and part of his nature as human being.

But using self-defense as a justification for our actions is not as simple as we think it is.

Invoking self-defense as a rationalization for the act requires one to admit that he really committed the supposed to be punishable act.

It is incumbent upon the one who defended himself/ his property or right/ another person to prove by clear and convincing evidence that he acted in honest defense, meaning his act is free from any vestige of deliberate or planned aggression. It is also important to note that self-defense is different from retaliation. As in retaliation,the aggression that was begun by the offended person already ceased when he (accused) attacked him back. While in self-defense, aggression begun by the offended party was still existing when he (accused) protected himself.

                                                                   Hence, it is very important to prove that:

1. There was unlawful aggression by the offended person;

2. There was reasonable necessity of the means you used in preventing or repelling the unlawful aggression; and

3. You did not provoke the person who attacked you

All these three elements must concur to establish that your act was really based on self-defense.

There are still other things that one should consider to establish his act of self-defense. Among them is that the aggression done to you must be in the nature of immediate and imminent danger. One may also point out where he hit the person and what tool or means he used relative to the means by which other person used to attack him first, and the degree of force you employed.

However, since one has to admit that he committed an injury to the other person as a result of his self-defense, if he is not able to sufficiently prove that he acted in lawful defense, then he will be held liable for the injury suffered by the offended party.

But if he is able to establish a clear and convincing proof, the law recognizes his act as justified and he deemed not to transgress the law, hence, free from both criminal (restriction of liberty or imprisonment, fines) and civil (eg. hospital fee, damages) liabilities.

It is good that we may be freed from criminal and civil liabilities; but it is always better to be cautious and prudent to avoid unfortunate events, or at least minimize inevitable circumstances; and it is best to know the law and our vested rights and obligations in order that we may apply well the common sense God has planted in every one of us and develop it into wisdom.

Law of society, law of nature, Divine Law… you can do well with common sense.

PS: I hope this article helps you somehow to better understand the concept of a valid “Self-Defense” as provided by the provision of the law (Paragraph 1, Article 11 of the Revised Penal Code). This is my first installment on my series of “Ease in Legalese” write-ups—my simple way of sharing what the law says in a laymanized manner so more people will be acquainted with our law and appreciate and exercise its provisions for their benefit, and incidentally, for the benefit of others as well.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Small Act Makes a Big Story!

Many amazing and great things come from small stuff or done by small things.

A tiny ant can carry scraps ten times its weight.

A mosquito bite can make the tallest, heaviest, brightest, or even the cutest guy sick.

A few centimeters of smile can bring sunshine to a gloomy day.

In the same way, you can make the entire story of your life great by starting small—choose one habit!

Yes, only one… and your entire life will change. Your future will be big!

The smallest gestures often have the humongous impact on our biggest goal! That simple gesture of kindness, note of thank you, uncomplicated "sorry", smile, slight adjustment, small talk, extra minute, etc. That certain habit we are focusing on at a specific time, in a greater or lesser degree, can bring us to our biggest star.

Start now! Write the story of your life! Don’t wait for life itself to make your own story for you.

Easy! Dream big. Start small.

 1.  “Draft” the story of the life you love by selecting one habit. (Yes, one at a time).

2.  Make your “table of contents” by mapping out the impacts it can bring to your life. Know your purpose and make a plan.

  1. Move forward by creating your “introduction” or your 30-day vow with yourself. Be determined. Dedicate your time, attention, and effort in building your “introduction” which makes up the sturdy foundation of your story (desired life). Path on a grassland is made by walking on the same tall grass regularly.

  1. Write every “page” with passion and honesty. Practice the habit daily. If you miss a day, go back to day one. (Of course you want to move forward). Fuel your motivation with your passion.
Our passion provides reasons and justifications for our desires. (You see a pair of red stilettos in a storeè the red stilettos make you happyèI will buy this pair of red stilettosèhundreds of because…/ Your crush tells you your fat and he likes slim ladiesèyou feel embarrassedèyour embarrassment becomes your motivation to lose weightèother reasons why you think must lose weight/ You grew up in a squalid hutèyou were belittled by a classmate and you know the discomfort living in a squalid hutèwhat you felt becomes your motivation to work and save for comfortable houseèyou find many other reasons to work and save)

  1. Do your “writing activity at your most productive time”. Schedule it on a specific time. This prevents you from resorting to the destructive mañana or the do-it-later habit.

  1. Make your “story dynamic”. Replace the old habit with a better or more productive activity. Don’t be stuck with the story on page one. This helps you move away from the past. (You want to flip through pages with story to tell, right?)

  1. “Study the story (habit)”. Proofread. Research! Ask! Read! Talk about it with friends. This helps you fine tune and asses your story, your life.

  1. Lastly, “support it!” Sell the idea to friends! They can serve as your watchdog and, at the same time, your inspiration to keep going. They can be your prayer warriors.

When your effort snowballs as each day passes by, you will have more and more motivation to keep going and have more and more reasons to change. When your effort snowballs, your target become bigger and bigger and clearer and clearer.

There is no limit to how high, big, and wide we can reach! Just be dedicated to take one step at a time; reach a little higher; go an extra inch; and stay a minute longer.

Small goes a long way!

PS: Let us pray persistently in order that we enjoy the life we desire. Spur one another on toward love and good deeds. We can be confident that He will listen to us whenever we ask Him for anything in line with His will. And if we know He is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that He will give us what we ask for. Our loving and faithful God wants the best for us.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Kenosis: Self-emptying for New Year, New Way, and New Life

New Year has become the pop time to change consciousness and ways. We refresh our lives to start anew.

We are in a “kenosis” state or “self-emptying” to make space for new habits and new blessings. We make new resolutions that we want to live by for the new year in order to achieve our new goals (or renewed goals, so to speak).

Dreams. Wishes. Resolutions. Goals. Prayers.

Everybody has new set of things to be achieved in order to enjoy a better and happier life, or simply to put life into perspective. Some focus on the aspect of career, others on love, family, studies, finance, or health.

Whatever or wherever we want to improve any time of the year, we must call on Him through whom and for whom everything is made.

Start the day with prayer and go all out with your best, and surely He will do the rest for us. Prayer reinforces our desires; excellence is what success is chasing after.

For every day of the year… Wake up gratefully. Pray faithfully. Work passionately. Decide justly. Think uprightly. Speak honestly. Respond humbly. Share generously. Go to bed joyfully—ending the day with thanksgiving and hope in heart that surely tomorrow God has more surprises and outpouring in our lives.

New year celebration is good; it brings hope and opportunity for new life.

Nevertheless, let us not discredit the fact that every day brings new hope. The good news is, we can transform our lives any day of the year! All we need is persistent prayer for discernment and determination and courage to follow the path to new life.

PS: We can enjoy and appreciate life more when we share its fruits with others. We will receive more when we empty ourselves so God can fill our lives up with more blessings, healing, and miracles. We will never lack in anything if we remain in Him and let His words remain in us and guide us (John 15:7 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.").