8 ways to Respond Creatively to the Conflict in Mamasapano, Mindanao. #fallen44
Published February 7, 2015
Are you afraid? Does the Philippines seem hopeless to you? Has this conflict in Mindanao pushed you towards apathy? Are you confused as to what’s really happening? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I’m here to help.
Here are 8 practical ways that you can respond constructively to the recent conflict in Mamasapano, Maguindanao popularly talked about as the #fallen44. This is part of a continuing series of posts about that conflict, which will walk you through the steps of how to think transformatively about terrorism and violence in the Philippines and live a life that makes a difference. If this is helpful to you then please share it and sign up to my email list for more.
1. Grieve the loss of life
There have been 18 deaths on the Bangsamoro side, 44 on the Government of the Philippines, 7 deaths of Muslim Civilians. These are all people made in the image of God who are not going home to their families for dinner any more. They are fathers, brothers, mothers and sisters and all need to be mourned. Allow yourself the feel the pain. We cannot become numb to tragedies like this.
2. Listen, learn and be still
“Slow down, listen learn and be still before jumping to words or actions that may do more harm than good” (*Huckins & Swigart). The conflict in Mindanao has roots going back to the time the Spanish arrived 400 years ago. Islam arrived in what is now the Philippines in 1380, while the Spanish arrived in 1521. For 150 years the Mindanao was growing in Islamic control and governance. People from the northern tribes often forget or never learned this part of history.
3. See common humanity before political and religious differences.
We all know that because of the radical diversity in the world we aren’t all going to agree on politics and religion. But in our common humanity it is most helpful to remember that all people are made in the image of God and therefore have infinite value. “When we see Jesus in the eyes of the other it is much harder to hate, hurt or demean them.”
Pray for the healing of others from all nations and religions. Pray for peace in all the places of conflict you hear about, especially here in our homeland of the Philippines. Seek forgiveness from God and your neighbours for blind prejudice (this is a wonderful way to start a conversation with a minority group). And “pray for new friendships to be cultivated among former enemies. Pray for your enemies.”
5. Ask hard questions
“How have my actions or politics contributed to the conflict positively or negatively – in thoughts or actions? Am I an objective observer, or are there ways I can be part of the problem or part of the restoration? Is the form of Christianity or Islam in the media an accurate form of Christianity or Islam or and ideological counterfeit?” Am I bringing healing or hurt to the people the state says are my enemies while Jesus calls me to reach out to them?
6. Expand your news sources
Today the distance between us and the news isn’t the reason why we don’t understanding the issues, but the problem is the polarizing political, social and economic realities that control every region in the Philippines. “Do not listen only to one source of the news, but instead find multiple sources from multiple perspectives. Better yet, hear first hand accounts from friends or trusted sources who are living in the place of conflict.”
7. Seek out the stories of hope and reconciliation amid conflict.
There are always people who have chosen to enter the place of conflict and practice daily peacemaking. Find the stories of these people and learn their names. They are the people to teach us how to be “peacemakers who are called sons of God” (Matt 5). When we shift our focus from the headlines of war, to stories of hope and peace we are inspired and we can learn the practical steps to be people of peace and reconciliation who “live, love and lead as agents of Peace amid the conflicts in our own homes, neighbourhoods and cities.”
8. Live a narrative of compassion
Those of us like myself who have experienced real life with the people who are now being labeled terrorists must tell their stories and clarify the disconnect between perception and reality. Our calling is to have eyes for common humanity, justice and the heart of God so that we can point others towards these things also. We must live into the narrative God desires for humanity, which inevitably leads towards us caring for the hurting no matter their religion or political position. We are called by Jesus to be agents of peace and reconciliation for those who have lost family members and those who are targeted by hate, stereotyping and dehumanization in our own neighbourhoods.
Since the Mamasapano clash people all over the Philippines are polarized by prejudice against Muslims and plagued by uncertainty in how to act constructively during this time of death and mourning. I propose 2 things:
1. If you know or see a Muslim, greet him or her and introduce yourself. You never know, they might want to have coffee with you and may even open your eyes up to their every day reality.
2. Be willing to befriend people who are different than you.
In Metro Manila, we can affect this conflict by continuing to choose a culture of peace with people who are different than you. This is radically different than anything that you will see or hear on the street because this is the will of God; rebuilding broken relationships and bringing people together. I pray that your choices to make peace will be fruitful and that you will be shocked by the face of Jesus in your enemies.
What are your ideas of how to help solve the broken relationships between races and religions in the Philippines?
This writing is based on the writing of Jon Huckins and Jer Swigart and The Global Immersion Project who cultivate everyday peacemakers through immersion in global conflict. (globalimmerse.org)