Wednesday, March 05, 2003

It's Ash Wednesday, beginning of Lent. I'd tell you more about it, but I'm really an occasional Catholic and only had 3 years of Catholic school. I do know that during Lent you're supposed to give something up and no meat on Fridays. Though my mom used to say fish really wasn't meat. (Tell that to a vegan!) oh yeah, sardines and tuna Fridays.

Growing up, it had always been explained to me as taking something away, depriving oneself of something to test one's will. But I really think it should be more about doing something good for yourself: give up smoking, eat more vegetables, work out more. We are such an excessive culture as it is that we tend to over-do everything anyway. By taking something away that we usually relied upon, we acknowledge that we really don't need it.

A friend of mine gave up chocolate for Lent. That was over 10 years ago, she never stopped. Though she still enjoys the smell of chocolate, the need to have it all the time no longer exists.

So I myself haven't figured out what to give up. Another friend of mine is giving up eating out because she feels like she's spending too much money. Maybe I should pick up on that one, doesn't hurt to save a dime or two.

I don't smoke, don't drink coffee (I drank it once and had the jitters for hours --that was scary! imagine holding a sword with the jitters...not good). Maybe I should pledge to keep my place clean (I have a propensity of not tidying up). Well, hopefully I'll choose something soon.

I wonder if George Dubya is a Christian man. I wonder what he's giving up for Lent. Maybe we should offer up one. How about giving up war for Lent? Maybe he'll realize that when he's without, he doesn't really need it.

There was a terrorist bombing of the Davao airport waiting platform a few days ago: 19 dead, over a hundred injured. It's a simple platform for people picking up folks to hang out out of the sun. That's all. I've waited there myself on occasion. A friend from Mindanao emailed saying that it was the Muslim new year and didn't think it was Muslims because why would they do that on their own holiday. None of the groups have taken responsibility for it. He has a point. I don't blame my friend for being suspicious. Under the Marcos era, the Philippine government was the one setting up bombs and creating the terror as an excuse to maintain military force in an area.

It's too bad too. Davao is such a beautiful place. I spent two days there a few years ago and completely fell in love with it from the Philippine eagle sanctuary, to the dairy co-op, to Samal Island just across the way. And now people will be afraid to go there. I always figure the safest time to go someplace is right after a high profile bombing or a kidnapping because it means that they're sending all the police to hang out there and more people are watching out for each other. It's a bit of worped logic, I know, but the Philippines is a bit worped too. It's the way the sun makes the land blur on the horizon.

In some ways I find Mindanao kind of like Oakland. In some areas, a very violent place, a war zone. In others, just overwhelming beauty. Where people just want to have the means to get by and live their lives. For the people that live there, they are bewildered as to why people on the outside fear their home so much.

For all of you this Lenten season, fear less, live well.

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