by A. Suico, MD, STL
If there is one way to describe President Duterte is that he can be consistent.
I am not talking about his political agenda or economic plan, but about his recent statement calling God stupid. Saying those words is consistent with how his administration treated people.
His lack of respect towards God is seen in his actions and policies.
The outrage that many people felt following his tirade against God and the Catholic Church is valid. We hear about those who denounced Duterte as blasphemous while others were strong to defend the account of Adam and Eve in Genesis.
Duterte wasn’t the first person to insult religion and the belief in God.
So many prominent people in the past have done the same, and the debate on original sin has been there for more than sixteen centuries since the time of St. Augustine.
But many found what he said to be disturbing that it triggered the strong reaction even from his support base.
The indignation is understandable, but how come it is only now?
Apart from the few vigilant Filipinos who spoke strongly against the violation of human rights, there was little public outrage over the killing of thousands of suspected drug users.
Where was the anger on his treatment of women?
Where was the fury against the continued proliferation of drugs and criminality affecting people, while tambays are hauled away in hordes like animals?
Where was the rage against the worsening poverty, hunger, and suffering of the poor Filipino?
If his words were deemed insulting to the notion of God, how much more are the inhuman policies and actions of his administration that are greater offenses against God because they trample, destroy, and violate persons who are created in the image of God.
We also share in this guilt as often we condone his actions.
Perhaps it comes from the hope that the president is one like many of us, poor and simple.
It is not surprising that we laugh at his jokes and antics about women. His fanbase agrees with his rhetoric about drug addicts believing that they are pests rather than persons like us.
But now people are starting to doubt Duterte. There are those who are still hopeful for a change of heart. Sadly, this might only end in more disappointments.
Perhaps this reaction arose because it touched a nerve in the majority Filipino who deep inside have that faith in God. Whatever this faith might be, for most cases, it remains only in the realm of piety and religiosity.
We express this faith in our devotions and prayers, but strangely it falls shorts after. Many of us are still unable to see Christ in the face of others.
We continue to be indifferent to the men and women and young people whose lives are taken away unjustly.
We fail to recognize that the same God who created us and loves the good and upright, equally loves the sinner.
Our Lord, in the Gospel of Matthew, said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Mt. 25:40).
The anger against calling God stupid is understandable, but more so on how persons are treated. As much as we ought to respect God and the different religions, great respect is also demanded towards human dignity, rights, and life.
Maybe what the president said has truth to it. Perhaps God is indeed “foolish” but not how Duterte’s insulting words have it. After all, God’s folly is wiser than human wisdom (1 Cor. 1:25).
God’s mercy is unlike limited human justice. Whereas people condemn, God forgives.
Only a “silly” God would continue to care for the outcasts.
Only a “foolish” God would save the worst sinner.
Only a “foolish” God would give up his life that we may live.
A.Suico,MD,STL is a doctoral student in Moral Theology at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley,California.