PHILSTAR  EDITORIAL:  HERO

MANILA
, DECEMBER 30, 2006 (STAR) If there are groups that continue to keep the memory of Jose Rizal alive 110 years after his death, it is because he showed that Filipinos are capable of achieving great heights despite seemingly insurmountable odds.

An early proponent of non-violence and a believer in the liberating power of education, Rizalís achievements are recognized even overseas. The Malaysians take pride in him as a member of the Malay race. There are markers in his honor in Europe.

The Philippinesí national hero was a global citizen before the phrase was coined. He realized early that Filipinos must compare themselves with the rest of the world and surpass or at least be at par with other nations. Rizal would have been at home in the age of globalization and the Internet, preaching knowledge as power and refusing to endorse violence as a means to an end.

His example has as much relevance today as it did in his era. By working to achieve his full potential, Rizal defied stereotypes of the indio of his time: indolent, incapable of education, superstitious and full of vices. And by defying those stereotypes, he showed that Filipinos were capable of self-rule.

Certain quarters criticized Rizal for refusing to endorse efforts to achieve full independence from Spain. But Rizal wanted the separation to be gradual and as painless as possible. And he preferred to torment the colonizers with the power of his pen. For his incendiary novels, which inspired the revolution against Spain, Rizal was executed 110 years ago today, in the open field where his monument now stands.

While silenced permanently, Rizalís life continues to provide inspiration to the nation, especially in an age where the nation is bereft of heroes. Todayís "heroes" are the millions of Filipinos who have left their own country to find work in foreign lands. Their remittances have contributed to the strength of the economy, but the Filipino dream of leaving his country is a national tragedy.

Then there are the self-styled hero-wannabes who promise national liberation through naked power grabs. With "heroes" like these, nationalists like Jose Rizal are sorely missed.

Benedict XVI on peace AT 3:00 A.M. By James B. Reuter The Philippine Star 12/30/2006

When he was only Cardinal Ratzinger, President of the Pontifical Council on Doctrine, he was really a German Shepherd. He was guarding the orthodoxy of Catholic teaching all over the world, faithfully, constantly, alert always, leaping into action at the first sign of trouble.

But when he became Benedict XVI, another side of his character began to appear. He was gentle, paternal, like the father of the prodigal son. This was crystal clear in his first encyclical "God Is Love". It was the keynote of his homily during his Midnight Mass, and of his Christian Message "To the City and to the World."

And it is the heart of his Message on New Yearís Day ó the World Day of Peace. Here are a few things that he says in that message:

"I wish to extend prayerful wishes for peace to all those experiencing pain and suffering, those living under the threat of violence and armed aggression, and those who have had their dignity trampled upon.

"I pray for peace to fall upon children, who by their innocence enrich humanity with goodness and hope, and by their sufferings compel us all to work for justice and peace. I pray for children, especially those whose future is compromised by exploitation and by the malice of unscrupulous adults.

"Recognition and respect for natural law is the foundation for a dialogue between the followers of different religions. It is a fundamental presupposition for authentic peace.

"The right to life and to the free expression of personal faith in God is not subject to the power of man. Alongside the victims of armed conflicts, terrorism and the different forms of violence, there are the silent deaths caused by hunger, abortion, experimentation on human embryo and euthanasia. These are a direct denial of that attitude of acceptance of others which is indispensable for lasting peace.

"Another disturbing symptom of lack of peace in the world is the difficulties that both Christians and the followers of other religions frequently encounter in publicly and freely professing their religious convictions.

"At the origin of many tensions that threaten peace are the many unjust inequalities tragically present in our world. Particularly insidious among these are inequality in access to essential goods like food, water, shelter, health; and there are persistent inequalities between men and women in the exercise of their basic human rights.

"A fundamental element of building peace is the recognition of the essential equality of human persons springing from their common transcendental dignity.

"Inadequate consideration for the condition of women helps to create instability in the fabric of society. I think of the exploitation of women who are treated as objects, and of the many ways that a lack of respect is shown for their dignity; I also think of the mindset persisting in some cultures, where women are firmly subordinated to the arbitrary decisions of men, with grave consequences for their personal dignity and for the exercise of their fundamental freedoms.

"There is an inseparable link between peace with creation and peace among men. Both of these presuppose peace with God.

"In recent years, new nations have entered enthusiastically into industrial production, thereby increasing their energy needs. This has led to an unprecedented race for available resources. Meanwhile, some parts of the planet remain backward and development is effectively blocked, partly because of the rise in energy prices.

"What injustices and conflicts will be provoked by the race for energy sources? And what will be the reaction of those who are excluded from this race?

"The destruction of the environment, its improper or selfish use, and the violent hoarding of the earthís resources cause grievances, conflicts and wars.

"This is a point which must be clearly reaffirmed: war in Godís name is never acceptable!

"A true and stable peace presupposes respect for human rights. And human rights imply corresponding duties.

"This recognition that there exist inalienable human rights connected to our common human nature has led to the establishment of a body of international humanitarian law, which States are committed to respect, even in the case of war.

"Increasingly, wars are not declared, especially when they are initiated by terrorist groups determined to attain their ends by any means available.

"War always represents a failure for the international community and a grave loss for humanity. When, despite every effort, war does break out, at least the essential principles of humanity and the basic values of all civil coexistence must be safeguarded; norms of conduct must be established that limit the damage as far as possible and help to alleviate the suffering of civilians and of all victims of conflicts.

"Another disturbing issue is the desire recently shown by some States to acquire nuclear weapons. This has heightened even more the widespread climate of uncertainly and fear of a possible atomic catastrophe.

"Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and humanity, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.

"Finally, I wish to make an urgent appeal to the People of God: be committed to tireless peace-making and strenuous defense of the dignity of the human person and his inalienable rights.

"Tirelessly implore from God the fundamental good of peace, which is of such primary importance in the life of each person.

"God is love. And the highest vocation of every person is love.

"May Mary show us, in her Son, the Way of peace, and enlighten our vision, so that we can recognize Christís face in the face of every human person, the heart of peace!"

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Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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