Early morning last Friday, June 2, my husband Migs woke me up to say there was trouble in a resort casino. I sprang up to catch the news. Together, we tried to make sense of what we were seeing on TV.
There were many questions as we listened to conflicting reports, the unknown giving rise to more fear. Then there was the heartbreak and pain as we listened to a father searching for his daughter. It was unimaginable that an ordinary day at work for a daughter should turn into her last, and become a harrowing nightmare for a parent.
Was it not just a little over a week ago that the country was on tenterhooks trying to understand what was happening in Marawi? Up until that night, it had always felt like a distant fight, but that night served as rude awakening—no, it is not “their” (solely Marawi’s) fight, but ours, too.
No matter how many faiths and different tribes we come from, Filipinos are all under one flag. The turmoil is not limited to far-flung jungles and mountains, but is present in cities where we live and where our children go to school.
But unlike our children, the children of Marawi are running not to play, but to to flee gunfire, bombs and death. Rather than joining the rest of the country as school reopens, they are huddled in evacuation centers, subsisting on relief goods.
We can’t even forget how that day began for us. Many were having breakfast when news broke of the suicide bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. I thought of my own 9-year-old daughter and her friends, all Ariana fans, and how any of us could’ve ended up a casualty.
It seems every week brings a report of an incident of terror and hatred, and I can’t help but wonder how and why humanity has come to this.
War is nothing new, yet, somehow, the conflicts we face today feel new. Somehow, humanity has outdone itself in creating and unleashing an evil force upon the world.
Not too long ago, the lines were clearly drawn. Today, the whole world is a battlefield. Any city, church or event can become the next target.
The battle cry of the world after every attack encourages us to not be afraid, to continue with our daily lives and defy the terrorists by showing them that they have failed to strike fear. How far can you go if you choose to never leave your home or stop living your life?
Nobody can say that current events have absolutely no effect, whether to make one more resolute to live as bravely as possible, or to be more cautious and alert.
As a parent, I try to be brave and explain everything as confidently and simply to my daughter, who is always curious. But deep inside, I can’t help but feel restless and scared. What kind of world is she growing up in, and what does the future hold for her generation?
Once upon a time, cultural differences were celebrated and preserved. Now, we see a world where people are intolerant of anything and anyone different, that they resort to extreme actions, including sacrificing innocent lives, to get their point across.
And the world, on its way to being truly globalized and borderless, is likewise regressing to a planet of countries bordered by fear and antipathy.
Will this world turn on itself, suppressing the very thing that makes it beautiful and unique? What will become of our children? Will they be forced to cut back their curiosity and openness and live a life in constant suspicion of their neighbors?
These are questions that bother me. But just when it seems that there is no hope, we see silver linings, such as the story of Muslim employers protecting their Christian employees, or strangers helping one another escape from a burning casino.
To paraphrase the philosopher Albert Camus, in the midst of evil, I found there was within the world, an invincible goodness.
No matter how hard we are pushed, there will always be those who will rise to defend human dignity.
And here lies the challenge to all parents: to make sure we raise children who will continue to defend what is good and right, and create a world that is kinder and better than what we are leaving them with.
We must teach our children to care, and raise human beings who will not become callous to atrocities, just because they are comfortable in their own lives.
They must strive to uplift not just their own lives, but also those of others, so that nobody is left behind.
Our actions may not matter much, but we will never know how much our children can affect this world. Their generation, raised in hope and love and respect for others, may just be the one to renew the battle-scarred face of the earth.