28 July 2019

Forgiveness - That great Filipino tradition

Filipinos and Forgiveness

I touched on this before when I wrote about family tambays.

We had one of our nieces go off the rails many years ago. She was 14. Fell into a bad crowd. Was disappearing for days on end and they couldn't find her. She was openly defiant of her father. I was always fond of her since I met her at the age of 7 and she was very sweet. Got her Tita Mila (my wife and her auntie) to write to her. I asked her to add the line "....and your family will all turn their backs on you" as a threat. Veiled threats are good parenting, I've always found.

Then Mila said no, because she would never believe it. No one ever tosses a family member out. They'll give them hell. The more physical will give kids a good walloping with a belt, rattan or some part of the banana plant. But to turn their backs on them? Not that I've ever seen.

Australia and Philippines - and Forgiveness

Yes, I grew up in Australia. My parents generation? They were born in the 1930's. Grandma was born in 1911. Yes, they had their black-sheep. My great-Uncle made the terrible error of marrying a Catholic, and appeared to have been on the outer for many decades. His mother said the Irish are hoarding guns and would take over once the Pope gave the order, etc. And my fathers relatives? Never met a single one of them. Not sure what terrible crime they all committed. Apparently my grandmother on his side lived a few km away and no doubt I grew up walking past her. Had cousins 4 - 5 km away, and only ran into cousin Kerrie on Facebook recently!

Yet my generation became even less forgiving. Lost contact with father since I was a teenager. Organised his funeral for him a few years ago because no one else would. Spent more years avoiding my brother than not avoiding him. Grandparents, lost touch. Uncle, cousins, etc lost touch decades ago and am still not in touch.

Filipinos? Very unusual to have estranged family members. Family is the one constant, and the most stable aspect of Filipino society. Can't rely on the Government, but can always rely on each other.

We all have an historically-based sense of superiority in us, regardless of how much we try to deny it. I'm talking about descendants of the British Empire, and no doubt other former colonisers. We have this Great White Father syndrome that thinks we are the civilisers from the advanced societies, and the lesser-nations need to learn from us. I'd like to think this has lessened in myself over the years. And I suppose the proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say. All theories aside, look at the end results.

Families: Wise westerners are estranged from half their family members. Filipinos love and support and are supported by most of their own.

Marriages: Wise westerners with groovy stuff like no-fault divorce have a 40%+ divorce rate. Filipinos stick together and forgive each other their imperfections.

So who are the wise ones??

Middle Ground?

Yes, Filipinos can fight and squabble, and there are plenty of hurt feelings. There are also the bullies and the bullied. Confrontation is rare, and I DO believe that there are times when someone should be given a few home-truths. The tambay is a prime example. So is the womaniser. I've always been a person who clears the air, who says what needs to be said. And usually the kindest thing you can do for someone troubled is to confront them and say the harsh words that need to be said.

The issue though is forgiveness! A wonderful quality, and one that doesn't come naturally from earthly sources. Yet once it becomes part of your nature, it becomes fairly permanent. This is my personal BLOG and not a business thing, so hope anyone reading will allow me to speak my mind. You can believe as you wish, but then so can I. When you see yourself as an imperfect person....a sinner, as it were....it's much easier to forgive others. And unless you're a total narcissist, you KNOW you're far from perfect! I have an imperfect wife, and I remain endlessly grateful that I do! She has a highly imperfect husband, so why would someone like me deserve a perfect wife? I consider myself very lucky for all that I have! If she gets something wrong, then forgiveness comes quite naturally.

And my kids? Can be selfish monsters. Could cheerfully throttle them at times. I have one particular daughter who went right off the rails at age 15, and it took several years for her to sort herself out. Never lost hope, and she's now the kindest and most forgiving person you could ever meet and I'm very proud of her. Could have given up, and glad I never did. And I'm lucky to have a family who doesn't give up on me either.

So yes, my own middle-ground is to face things and fix things, but to ask for my trespasses to be forgiven as I forgive those who trespass against me! Pretty good deal that one! I deserve as much forgiveness as I'm prepared to give to others. No more, no less.


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