A Land of Light

Sooner or later every teacher makes himself or herself these questions: what is the culture I want to leave to my students? What is the nation I want to leave to my students? What is the society I want to leave to my students? What is the world I want them to grow up into, and how I can make that world possible?

Actually, this is a question that every citizen must make himself at some point in his life: what is the kind of culture I want to create? What is the kind of nation I want to create? What is the kind of society I want to create? What is the kind of humanity I want to create? How I can make them possible?

As had happened before, I can’t answer these questions without answering as a Christian, not just as a teacher and as a citizen.

Fist question: what is the kind of culture I want to create?

I want to create a culture of life.

What is a culture of life? Let’s remember…

A culture of life is a culture where all life is embraced, where all the human rights of everyone are recognized, where everyone is seen according to the image and likeness to God, where everyone is unconditionally embraced as a human being. I mean: everyone.

If you see carefully, you may realize that there is a tendency of humanizing only those who are according to certain ideologies. For example: if you are a person whose ideological vision is leftist, you will probably be used recognize as human beings only those who are convenient to your vision: LGBT people, migrants, Muslims, black people… Another example: if you are a person whose ideological vision is rightist, you will probably be used to recognize as human beings only those who are convenient to your vision: Christians, the unborn, pro-gun people, conservatives… So on.
Let’s ask ourselves this simple question: in what moment of history we got used to recognizing as human beings only those who are like us, those who are convenient to our ideological vision, those who agree with us?

That’s what Hitler did, dear brother and sister. Exactly that.

Usually, when people hear about “culture of life” it is understood as a “pro-life” culture in the sense of defending the unborn.

Nope, that is not exactly what I am talking about.

A culture of life is a culture that embraces every person as a human being, no matter what. If you have a human DNA (no matter if you have an extra chromosome), you are a human being, unconditionally entitled to human rights, unconditionally entitled to be respected, unconditionally entitled to a dignity that only human beings have. That is a culture of life. Of course, a culture of life includes recognizing the unborn as human beings, including respecting their human rights, but is far broader: a culture of life embraces all as human beings. Do you remember all those examples I mentioned? Yes: LGBT people, migrants, Muslims, black people, Christians, the unborn, pro-gun people, conservatives… All of them are human beings, no matter what. A culture of life affirms that no matter what is the ideological vision, nor any other factor, a human being is a human being. Everyone’s dignity is unconditionally affirmed from the moment of conception until the natural death, with all the consequences that it may mean.

When you get used to humanizing only those who are convenient to your ideology, that is an ideological culture. As I said, that was what Hitler did with macabre efficiency. That what we want to become as a culture, a dehumanizing culture, like Nazism was? I know that people from both left and right are very fond of calling “Hitler” each other… That’s not funny, not at all. There must be a stop to this kind of behavior: dehumanizing those who are not like you, who don’t agree with you, who do not have your ideological vision. Our human identity can’t depend on ideologies: we are human beings, no matter what, and that must always be respected, even in those people who commit crimes.

There is a very, very short distance between an ideological culture and social abortion: to abort those who are not convenient to the ideology. Holocaust, Apartheid, slavery, abortion… there are many tragic examples of where an ideological culture leads.

Make yourself these question: do I see everyone as a human being and respect everyone as a human being, unconditionally, or I only affirm those who are convenient to my ideological vision? Do I affirm everyone’s human rights, or only the human rights of those who are like me, who think like me, who are convenient to my ideological vision? What kind of culture do I want to create?

Answer them yourself, in conscience. I am quite clear in my answer: I firmly believe in a culture of life, and here I am, giving my own life for creating it.

Second question: what is the kind of nation I want to create?

I want to create a nation of Love that grows in communion.

I am not talking about any kind of Love. I am talking about the way God teaches us to love: a Love that grows in communion, a Love that helps the other to grow as the best person he can be, as the person he is called to be.

A nation of Love that grows in communion is a nation where everyone can grow and become the person who is called by God to be, where everyone can grow until becoming the best person he can be. This means that the growth that doesn’t help everyone to grow as we are all called to be––human beings that grow in communion–– until becoming the best person we can be… is not truly human growth. We must seek to help to grow every one. The growth that only helps to grow those who are convenient to your ideological vision, those who think like you, those who are like you… is not growth, is dehumanizing propaganda that destroys our nation and our culture… and eventually, humanity itself.

Our nation is called to be greater than that. We are all called to be greater than becoming ideological propaganda. We are all called serve our nation by becoming our best, by giving our best, by loving everyone as God does, by growing in communion as God calls every human being to grow. Of course, in order to create a nation of love that grows in communion, you also need to create a culture of life that embraces everyone as human beings.

Make yourself these questions: do I help everyone to become who they are called to be, to become the best person they can be, or I only help those who are convenient to my ideological vision? Do I affirm everyone’s growth in communion, or only the growth of those who are like me, who think like me, who are convenient to my ideological vision? What kind of nation do I want to create?

Answer them yourself, in conscience. I am quite clear in my answer: I firmly believe in a nation of Love that grows in communion, and here I am, giving my own life for creating it, for helping to grow everyone as God does, like rain that falls for all.

Third question: What is the kind of society I want to create?

I want to create a democratic society.

Usually, a “democratic society” is usually understood as a society where their citizens can choose those who govern them.

For me, a democratic society is not only a society where you can choose those who govern you. Of course, being a democratic society includes being able to choose those who govern you, including your president––something Puerto Ricans can’t do––, but for me is something far broader than that.

For me, a democratic society is a social order centered in the person: in helping to be, to do, to grow and to radiate every citizen as a human being. This requires two very important factors.

The first factor required for a democratic society is the correct conception of the person. If a society conceived the person as an ideological object, only promoting those aspects of the personal formation that are convenient to the own ideology, or only promoting the conception of the personal formation in the way that is convenient to a certain ideology, the conception of the person is corrupt, and so the society will be corrupt also. For achieving a democratic society is imperative to achieve a conception of the personal formation that embraces everyone as a human being. Without this, there is no democratic society possible.

The second factor required for a democratic society is something extremely related to the first factor: human rights. A society where human rights are not affirmed unconditionally there is no democracy possible. A society where dehumanization is allowed cannot be a democratic society. Of course, in order to create a democratic society, you need to create a nation of Love that grows in communion and a culture of life that embraces everyone as a human being.

Make yourself these questions: do I help everyone to be, to do, to grow and to radiate unconditionally, or I only help those who are convenient to my ideological vision? Do I affirm a society centered in the person, or a society centered in ideologies, a society that doesn’t conceive the personal formation correctly and that doesn’t affirm human rights unconditionally? What kind of society do I want to create?

Answer them yourself, in conscience. I am quite clear in my answer: I firmly believe in a democratic society, and here I am, giving my own life for creating it, like breathing air that is given to everyone unconditionally.

Fourth question: what is the kind of humanity I want to create?

I want to create a world of fraternity. I want to create a world where everyone can grow as a brother and a sister, a world where everyone can grow as part of the human family, where everyone can grow with dignity, a world where everyone can be seen as a gift of God that we are all called to help to thrive, a world of peace where any kind of dehumanization––discrimination, illiteracy, inequality, poverty–– is fought passionately.

Of course, in order to create a world of fraternity, you need also to create a democratic society, a nation of Love that grows in communion and a culture of life that embraces everyone as a human being. This is a whole revolution of Love!

Make yourself these questions: do I see everyone as a brother and a sister, or I only see as a brother and a sister a few, those who are convenient to my ideological vision, those who I consider “my own”? Do I affirm a fraternal world, a world where everyone is part of the human family? What kind of world do I want to create?

Answer them yourself, in conscience. I am quite clear in my answer: I firmly believe in a fraternal world, and here I am, giving my own life for creating it, like creating a land of light

So, finally, here comes the last question…

How I can make this possible? How I can create a culture of life, a nation of Love that grows in communion, a democratic society, a fraternal world?

I just said the answer: I am making them possible through creating a land of light.

What I mean with “creating a land of light”?

To understand this, you need to see every human being as a ray of light that comes from God’s Love, and you need to see yourself as a star of heaven called to radiate God’s Love in a unique way.

A land of light is a land where every human being shines like a star. Each star gives a light that only that person can give, and as long as each star gives the light that is called to radiate, every culture, every nation, every society, the whole world… becomes a land of light. Of course, we can’t radiate on our own. We need to help each other radiate the light that God’s Love gives us, until becoming together the humanity that we are called to be, the human family we are called to be, the stars of heaven we are called to be. I truly believe that seeing the unity of the whole humanity as a constellation of stars, each one shining a unique light, is a very beautiful and vivid vision of what we are called to be as humanity. We are not called to shine by our own: we are called to shine together, as brothers and sisters that see each other with the loving gaze of God’s light and that radiate together as God’s family, helping every human being to grow as He does.

We have a choice, right here, right now: to become the culture of life we are called to be, to become the nation of Love we are called to be, to become the democratic society we are called to be, to become the fraternal world we are called to be… to become the land of light we are called to be. We have the choice of not allowing any kind dehumanization to destroy our culture, our nation, our society, our humanity…

For me, that choice means to radiate God’s Love unconditionally, right here, right now. I am creating a land of light with the radiation of God’s Love to my culture, to my nation, to my society, to my humanity… like an incarnated theology of light.

Make yourself these questions: do I see in everyone a light that I am called to help to radiate, or I only see a light in those who are convenient to my ideological vision, those who I consider “my own”? Do I affirm a land of light, a land where everyone is called to shine a unique light? What kind of humanity do I want to create?

Answer these yourself, in conscience. I am quite clear in my answer: I firmly believe in a land of light, and here I am, giving my own life for creating it, like creating a human constellation where everyone can shine and give the unique light that is called to give to our humanity.

So, this is the culture I want to leave to my students, the kind of culture I want to create: a culture of life. This is the nation I want to leave to my students, the kind of nation I want to create: a nation of Love that grows in communion. This is the society I want to leave to my students, the kind of society I want to create: a democratic society. This is the world I want my students to grow up into, the kind of world I want to create: a fraternal world. This is the humanity I want to give to my students, the kind of humanity I want to create: a land of light.

Have you ever asked yourself all these questions? Today is a great day to do so.

Let’s become the culture we are called to be and we will fire our nation.

Let’s become the nation we are called to be and we will fire our society.

Let’s become the society we are called to be and we will fire our world.

Let’s become the world we are called to be and we will become a land of light!

Let’s keep growing!

A Revolution of Love

In my last post I talked about growth freedom: how all true public servers ––as all teachers are called to be–– should share a passionate call to making possible a free society for everyone: an open society where everyone can grow free, with dignity and fraternally, according to the best human growth possible…

Today I am going to talk about something that is deeply connected with freedom growth, in the opposite way: social abortion.

We all know what abortion is, but if you want to look at it further, you can do what I did just before sitting down and writing this post: seeing Unplanned, the movie that tells the story of Abby Johnson. Seeing it helped me to develop all these ideas further.

So… what is social abortion? Social abortion is when our society is aborted through dehumanization, through the systematization of violation of human rights. So, when a society normalizes the affirmation of the human rights of only some ––of those who are “convenient”, instead of affirming unconditionally all the human rights of everyone, that’s social abortion: it literally destroys the culture and the nation through systematically normalizing the denial of human rights of some citizens, like it would happen in a concentration camp. It is the exact opposite to growth freedom: social abortion selects who can be recognized as a human being and who cannot, according to what is convenient to a certain ideology or a certain interest.

To explain some characteristics of social abortion, I will use images from the movie Unplanned.

A characteristic of social abortion is, first, a society in crisis: a society that is not democratic, where human rights are just a convenience. Like it happens with abortion and women in crisis, people that are vulnerable are told that the only “real way” to solve the “problem” is through social abortion: through selecting who can be recognized as human being and who cannot, making people used to dehumanization as a “natural way” to be a society.

Another characteristic of social abortion is “dehumanizing harassment”, that can also be named “ideological harassment”: make everything happen to distract and manipulate the perception of reality according to their purposes and ideological vision.

Another characteristic of social abortion is taking all the measures to control society, the same way that the pro-abortion vision takes all the measures to promote the “control of our bodies” slogan. This means that instead of saying to a person “you can’t be human” to those they select to abort, they will create the social circumstances that “dehumanize” those who they select to abort. The movie Unplanned shows a great example of this: instead of forcing the pro-life activist to shut down their camera, Abby turned on the sprinklers, forcing them to shut down the camera. Exactly this way is how social abortion works: they only allow growth in the way that is convenient to them.

What I am going to say next can be a little tricky to understand, but I will try to explain it the best way I can

Another characteristic of social abortion is an “corrupted ontology”. Ontology is the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being. Well, from the social abortion perspective, the human being stops being “human” and instead becomes “ideology”: the very nature of the human being becomes an instrument for the ideology, “corrupting” the human ontology and literally dehumanizing the very nature of the human being…

Therefore “social abortion” is not only about “dehumanizing” those who are being denied their human rights. Social abortion is about those who commit the violation of human rights because… they are the ones that were dehumanized first, the ones whose ontology was converted into an ideology. People is made to believe that who they are depend on the ideology, what is convenient or not convenient to the ideology… losing all sense about their own humanity.

This is something that must be seen clearly: when a person attempts to dehumanize someone else, is because he or she had been dehumanized first… and when this happens systematically, that is social abortion going on. Social abortion is not just the dehumanization of some. The dehumanization of some means the dehumanization of everyone. If I say this paraphrasing Martin Luther King’s phrase, I would say: injustice to anyone is a threat to justice everywhere. The example of this shown in the movie Unplanned is quite clear: a whole business model dedicated to dehumanize human beings, dehumanizing their employees because that is what is convenient to their profits…

Another characteristic of social abortion is, said in simple words, lies that are projected as real. The clearest example of lie in the movie Unplanned is deeply related with a “corrupted ontology”: Abby telling her client that who was inside her body was not a human being, but “tissue” or a few cells. When social abortion happens false realities are told and projected once and once again… but truth can’t be manipulated: every person is a human being, no matter in which stage of development she or he is, and so is entitled to human rights. This can go to the extreme of seeing as a “medical problem” something that is completely and truly natural: fertility and pregnancy.

There is another important detail about this: sometimes people is not conscious of the lies they are made to believe, as happens when Abby says that her job in Planned Parenthood was an opportunity to “make a real difference.” Sometimes people is not even given the chance to see truth… and that is why we all must avoid any kind of judgment of anyone. People can do wrong things for all the good reasons, and all the right things for the wrong reasons.

The fact is that once the ontology is corrupted, the consequences are many. The clearest example of this in the movie Unplanned is how Abby assumes her “fight for reproductive rights” as equal to the fight against the Holocaust, slavery or racism. Shawn gets it right: the three circumstances have in common the factor of selecting the dehumanizing of some, exactly as abortion does. If you assume the human being according to an ideological growth vision, you won’t see this, but if you see the human being according to a vision of personal human growth, the fact that every person is a human being strikes you in the face like a punch of evident truth. You can’t call a “human right” to something that is intrinsically dehumanizing. The same thing applies to the “growth targets”, as they were called by the Planned Parenthood regional director: “growth” is confused with “profits” that implied forced dehumanization of some, exactly like forced slavery worked centuries ago. Assuming dehumanization ––ideological slavery–– as “corporate policy” of any business model is intrinsically evil, no matter how profitable it could be.

What is the answer when social abortion is going on? How to save a whole society ––for a teacher, this would mean his or her students–– of a social abortion, of its own destruction as a culture or as a nation?

As it happened in the last post, I can’t answer this question just as a citizen and as a teacher. I must answer it also as a Christian.

The answer when social abortion is going on is a revolution of Love: incarnating God’s Love in the personal formation and radiate His Love unconditionally, as He does, literally in every place you are, even if you are in an ideological concentration camp, or surrounded by ideological slavery, the true cause of the social abortion that is going on. When you choose to radiate God’s Love unconditionally, you go straight to the root of the social abortion and the ontological corruption: ideological dictatorship, imposing an ideology as the order of a whole society, instead of organizing society according to honoring the human rights of all the citizens, as it should happen in a democracy.

When you choose to embrace a revolution of Love you are able to create a culture of life: a culture that recognizes everyone’s humanity unconditionally, in any stage of development, from conception to natural death. This is something that is a lot broader than only defending the life of the unborn, as “culture of life” is usually understood. A culture of life affirms the humanity of every person, respecting the dignity of everyone unconditionally.

A revolution of Love radiates light in the darkness of an abortive society that promotes social abortion: a society that selects whose humanity is recognized and whose humanity is not, so “aborting” all those who do not fit in their ideological convenience, like happens with the unborn, whose humanity is consistently denied. The unborn are not the only ones that are being socially aborted, but they are the clearest and most vulnerable example of social abortion in our days. There are many ways to “socially abort” a person, beginning with denying his or her right to life. Any violation of human rights is human violence, no matter how it is done, but any systematic violation of human rights ––when the violation of human rights become socially normalized–– it becomes social abortion. I think that classifying Unplanned as an “R” movie was a right move, because abortion is violence. The same applies to social abortion.

When a revolution of Love is embraced the personal formation is conceived according to personal growth ––what helps us to become the best humanity we can be––  and according to the image and likeness to God’s Love ––what helps us to become who we are called to be–– , instead of conceiving it according to the own interests and profits. The personal formation can’t be assumed according to the ideology of some, but according to the common good of all, because the true growth target of humanity is growing in communion, growing as brothers and sisters that are free, equal and full of plenitude This is how a revolution of Love promotes a culture of life? As God teaches us to do: Helping to be, to do, to grow and to radiate everyone, affirming everyone’s human rights unconditionally, making possible that everyone can grow as a brother and a sister with the same dignity.

Every public server ––including teachers–– are called to promote a culture of life. If a public server does not have the disposition to promote the growth of everyone as human beings that grow as brothers and sisters that are free, equal and live with plenitude… he or she is not fit to be a public server. This is not negotiable in a public server. A true public server is not in service of ideologies: is in service of all citizens. When we serve the common good as public servers through the promotion of a culture of life, we make possible the development of our nation as a nation of Love that grows in communion, a nation in which everyone can grow in communion.

That is what the revolution of Love is all about: making possible that everyone can grow in communion, incarnating God’s Love in the whole growth, adoring Him with our whole growth: with how we grow according to the image and likeness of His Love, and with how we make possible a “society of growth”, a society where everyone can grow as a brother and a sister that is loved as God loves. In a Christian, this is fruit of a fecundity of the Spirit, fruit of giving life as He does, fruit of making visible His Love, of adoring Him with our whole growth. This revolution is not political: is a revolution of conversion to Love, of conversion to charity, of conversion of the Holy Spirit. If the revolution of Love has political repercussions it because it has repercussions on the person. We must stop thinking about politics as the way to “convert” society. What converts society is the conversion of persons: what helps them to be, act, grow and radiate as the best human being he or she can be, what helps them to become who they are called by God to be. When people become who they are called to be, the whole society ––including politics–– converts in the best society we can be.

When a revolution of Love is embraced, we help society to become the best we ca be through helping everyone to grow, as unconditionally as rain that falls from Heaven. God is the first one interested in helping everyone to grow with plenitude. This revolution of Love makes visible His call of conversion: his call of becoming a living icon of God’s Love, making His Love visible in such way that everyone can grow in communion, as a brother and a sister of the same human family.

You don’t need to wait to an “ideal set of circumstances” to embrace a revolution of Love. As Anne Frank said: “How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever you have, you can start a revolution of Love that improves your society right here and right now, through making visible God’s Love unconditionally, through adoring Him with the whole growth, though converting yourself ––through letting the Holy Spirit to convert you–– in who He calls you to be: a living image of God’s Love, a beacon of the light of God’s Love, a living star of Heaven that shines through any darkness… including the darkness of social abortion.

As the movie Unplanned shows, making choices that defy the ideology of “powerful people and business” ––like the choice of embracing a revolution of Love–– will have consequences that should not be underestimated. It is funny the way the lawyer says it: “you are a big fish, and sharks smell blood…” They will be capable of anything to threaten you, in whichever way they can. I don’t only mean legal threats.

It doesn’t matter. Really, it doesn’t. God’s Love triumphs over all. God’s mercy can reach everyone, everything, everywhere. Jesus teaches this on the cross. He also teachers us that no matter how red our sins are, they will become white as snow if we repent and convert with all our hearts to His Love. You will never be so far away of God’s Love that you will not be able to come back to His merciful arms and let the Spirit radiate you with His light, that will make possible your conversion in who God calls to be.

It is never late to embrace a revolution of Love. It is never late for embracing the beauty and the joy of keep growing until becoming who God calls to be, and so transfiguring society in the family of brothers and sisters that God call us to be, full of growth freedom and free of any social abortion and any ideological dictatorship. Ending social abortion and any kind of ideological dictatorship is not only the duty of a Christian: it is also the duty of any citizen that loves his or her country and that loves humanity. Ending social abortion and any kind of ideological dictatorship is part of making possible a society full of growth freedom, a free society for everyone.

Really, there are many ways to embrace a revolution of Love everyday. There are many ways to make possible the growth in communion of everyone everyday. Just ask yourself: how I am becoming the person God calls me to be today? How I am radiating God’s Love through my whole personal formation today? How I am adoring God with the whole growth today? How I am listening to God’s call to conversion today?

This blog post ––what I wrote, where I wrote it, how I wrote it–– is part of my today’s answer to all those questions.

Let’s keep growing!

 

Growth Freedom

In Puerto Rico the Slavery Abolition Day is celebrated today, so I chose this day to write about… freedom. The theme of freedom can be talked in the classroom from many perspectives. I would like to talk about it now from a very particular perspective: the perspective of public service.

All true public servers ––as all teachers are called to be–– share a passionate call to making possible a free society for everyone: an open society where everyone can grow free, with dignity and fraternally, according to the best human growth possible…

This is very easy to say in ideal situations, I know… But what I ––as public server–– could say if I witness how people are constantly exploited, how children are constantly exploited in order to impose certain ideologies, how students are constantly manipulated in order to make them act in certain ways just to terrorize or cause stress or a distorted reality to someone else? This is an example of a non-ideal situation. What I am talking about is a modern slavery: students are recruited, taking advantage of a vulnerable position ––for example: having a disability, not having money to pay for other school, the parents being coerced to lose their jobs if they do not comply with the explotation, or just being a minor–– for the sole purpose of “ideological explotation”. This means: using children to create specific circumstances for projecting a reality that allows to promote certain ideologies. That may imply many things: creating circumstances that cause stress to people that do not live according to the ideologies that are being promoted, creating circumstances in which those that do not live according to the ideologies that are being promoted can’t function normally or even in a healthy way (this means, for example: creating circumstances that may make the impression that a person has mental health problems ––just for the purpose of creating the impression that that person is a non-credible person–– through creating an unhealthy environment around the person), create circumstances in which only those that live according the ideologies that are being promoted can function normally and even excel…

There is another name for this: human trafficking, the use of human beings for controlling ideas, the use of children for ideological exploitation. This could happen to anyone, but it is not the same ––not the same at all–– when an adult is used for ideological exploitation than when a child is used for ideological exploitation. Both are a human trafficking situation, but children are more vulnerable, especially if they are not even old enough to being conscious of the ideological exploitation they are being part of, or if they have a disability that makes impossible to being conscious of what is going on, no matter how old they are.

What would I say to children in those circumstances?

Actually, this could apply to any person that is ideologically exploited…

Now I can’t just talk as a teacher or as a public server. The only way I can talk about this also includes my vocation as Christian to radiate God’s Love.

The first thing I would say to children and persons in these circumstances is: I am sorry you are through this. I am really sorry that you are being used the way you are used, because you are not a tool to be used: you are a beautiful human being who deserves to be cherished and loved unconditionally. You don’t deserve to be a slave of an ideology. You don’t deserve to be educated only according to what is convenient to promote certain ideologies and in the way that is convenient to promote certain ideologies. You don’t deserve to be reduced to what is convenient to some other else. You deserve to be happy, free and educated in an environment where you are allowed to grow according to your best human growth possible. You deserve to receive all the resources you need to thrive just because who you are, not only because how useful you could be for an ideological agenda. You are citizens that deserve to be defended and respected as human beings, with human rights that should be respected unconditionally by everyone, especially by those who have the duty to protect you and to affirm those rights, and instead use you to promote ideological agendas. Above all, you are a beloved sons or daughters of God that are called to be the best persons you can be, not called to only being allowed to behave in whatever way is convenient to any ideological agenda.

I am sorry. I am truly, deeply sorry that you are being ideologically exploited…

But in a circumstance like that one, being sorry would not be enough. In the face of a human rights violation being sorry is not enough: action is needed… but what kind of action?

The needed action in a circumstance like this one is clear: making possible a free society in which those children can grow as human beings, citizens and sons and daughters of God, not as victims of ideological exploitation. This kind of action is affirmative ––it does not answer violence with violence, or dehumanization with dehumanization…––, and it can be done even if the own students deny the exploitation they are being subject of because it simply affirms their humanity unconditionally, it doesn’t depend on their behavior.

As a matter of fact, I think that every public server and every Christian is called to serve the common good in this way: through making possible a free society in which everyone can grow as a human being, as a citizen and as a son or daughter of God. John F. Kennedy said: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” I say: And so, my fellow brothers and sisters, ask not what your society can do for you, but what you can do for your society”. I know what I can do for my society, for my culture and for my nation: making possible an open and free society in which everyone can grow as a human being, as a fellow citizen and as a son or daughter of God.

As a Christian, my way of doing is through radiating God’s Love in every concrete circumstance. I believe that God’s Love is the only force that can be able to abolish any kind of slavery. I believe that when we incarnate God’s Love we can be able to abolish all kind of slaveries, including ideological dictatorship. I believe that is my duty, both as public server and as Christian, to make that happen, to never conform with evilness, corruption, abuse of power, coercion; to seek how to serve God, the family I am called to create and the common good in every circumstance… no matter what. I mean: no matter what it may cost, is my duty to make possible a free society where everyone can grow as a brother and a sister, a society where I can adore God “with the whole growth”. This requires further explication to be understood.

I have prayed many times that God ––imagined as “Jesus Charity”–– asks to be adored “with the whole growth”. This means, of course, that I am called to adore him with my own whole growth: through creating with my own whole personal formation a living icon of God’s Love and becoming who He calls me to be. However, adoring God with the whole growth does not only refers to my own growth. It also includes all my brothers and sister’s growth, it also means the whole society’s growth: adoring God with the whole growth also means to adore Him through making possible that everyone can grow as a son and a daughter of God, according to the dignity He had given unconditionally to every human being.

So, no matter what I am doing, where I am doing what I am doing, how I am doing what I am doing… the focus is the same: adoring God with the whole growth and radiating His Love in a way that all the light and all the freedom He gives so generously and so tenderly is radiated as a gift of life, truth and plenitude, not only to me, but for all, creating a growth society, a life culture, a nation of Love that grows in communion… for everyone,  not matter what. It doesn’t matter if some don’t like me. It doesn’t matter if some don’t think like me. It doesn’t matter if some don’t agree with me. It doesn’t matter even if some are complicit and promote torture tactics against me because they are told or forced to do so… We are all brothers and sisters, and we are all called to grow in communion, and only through radiating God’s Love unconditionally that can be possible, no matter what.

Today, the day we celebrate the abolition of slavery, is a great day to affirm this truth: we are all called to make this possible. We are all called to make possible a society where everyone can grow as a brother and a sister, as a human being with equal human rights and as a citizen that is not slaved by the ideological agendas of some. We are all called to make visible the light of God’s Love with all the consequences it may imply, to live God’s charity in a radical way, in a way that liberates everyone, that illuminates the whole society and brings a better future for everyone, especially for all children, who deserve it most. We, as adults, owe them a better world, a society full of life, truth, justice, peace, fraternity, beauty, joy, compassion and values that shape a freedom full of meaning; a freedom that does not only seek the sake of the own interests and benefits; a freedom that is capable of giving free life to others and of giving the life for others as Jesus did, as a service to God, to the Church ––His Bride–– and to the common good; a freedom that is capable of always choose to love as God love us, to illuminate as God illuminate us, to liberate as God liberate us… Values that shape a “growth freedom”: a freedom that creates the best growth possible for everyone, a freedom that assumes all the duties and responsibilities that is called to assume in order to make possible a society where everyone can grow according to his or her God-given human dignity. This is the freedom that I believe in: a growth freedom, a freedom that helps to grow, not a “freedom” where anything can be done and controlled according to the law of the strongest, where only some ––those who are useful according to the ideological agenda–– are allowed to grow, and even when allowed to grow, they are allowed to do it only in the way that is convenient to the ideological agenda. We are all called to eradicate all kinds of ideological dictatorships, along all kinds of modern slaveries that impede the best growth possible for everyone, with a public service that radiates growth freedom to the whole society, with all the consequences it may imply.

Let’s make that possible. Let’s ask ourselves: how I am called, in this here and in this now, to let the light of God’s Love radiate my own heart, and so everything around me? How I am called, right now, to share all the life, all the fullness and all the freedom that God’s Love brings, breaking all slaveries and all oppressions that corrupt my society and inhibit a growth freedom? How I am called, exactly where I am, to share the consecration of charity ––the consecration to adore God with the whole growth–– that makes possible the fullest growth possible for everyone?

Let’s keep growing!

 

 

 

Functional Slavery

People should and is entitled by law to promote any kind of idea they want. Having a plural society ––a society where everyone can live according to his own ideals–– is a very healthy thing, and this should be reflected in the classroom, allowing each student to have and stand their own opinions and ideas. Not everything in a classroom should be a matter of being “correct” in a certain way or “incorrect” in a certain way. There can be many ways to be correct, and there can be many ways to be incorrect too. However, there must be a clear limit at the time of affirming what we believe and at the time of make our life’s choices: respecting human rights.

When a society is truly democratic, it is organized in order to honor everyone’s human rights, all of them. That democracy also applies in the classroom, of course. However, we are seeing more and more in our society the imposition of ideologies ––nationalism, socialism, ideology of gender…–– in ways that clearly are a violation of human rights.

No matter what I believe, I can’t tell anyone what to believe or what not to believe, and this includes my students. That is not my duty as citizen, as public server or as teacher. I have the right to believe, to give an example, that marriage can be only between a man and a woman, because according to my faith marriage is not only a civil union: it is a sacrament. That belief is only one of the many beliefs that imply a true Catholic faith. There are many other “unpopular” beliefs that I embrace to live according to my faith: I do not use contraception (I’m abstinent because I am not married and the Church teaches that people that are not married are called to live a chaste life, so I don’t need it anyways, but I what I mean is, wherever I get married I won’t use them neither), I pray the rosary everyday, I have a spiritual reading everyday, I read the Bible everyday, I pray by writing contemplative poems and contemplative dialogues everyday, I do not use clothes that show more than the appropriate, I live a consecration to charity everyday, I go to daily mass wherever it is possible… so on, so on. I don’t think this is the moment to explain explicitly how I live my faith.

Yes, I believe all this. It should be my human right to have the functional freedom do so. However, I do not have the right to impose my belief to others. I simply have the right to live according to my faith and to share it in a way that is respectful and appropriate. With “respectful” I mean that I honor other’s human rights when I share it. With “appropriate” I mean that I do not practice proselytism. To say an example: I do not talk about my faith to my students if they don’t ask me, and even when they ask me, I am very sure to talk about how I live in a way that I won’t enforce on them my way of living my faith due my authority as teacher. That is simply not appropriate, period.

However, we are seeing more and more people in our society that believe that they have “the power” to impose their beliefs to others via what I would call… functional slavery. Let’s explain.

Let’s say that I am a Christian that believes all the things that I said before (what is true) but people in “power” to do so want me to live according to their ideology… but because they know that they can’t explicitly forbid me to live my faith ––that is clearly and explicitly illegal–– what they do is creating circumstances in which the only way to function normally in a physically and mental healthy way is… if you behave according to what is convenient to their ideology. Considering that if you behave according to their ideology, you would act against your faith, the Christian must choose between living a healthy life ––this includes a healthy social life, a healthy professional life, a healthy academic life–– or being forced to live a life without being able to function normally ––as an equal citizen would be able to do––.

That is what I call functional slavery: circumstances in which the only way to function normally is through being ideologically slaved. If you don’t comply with the ideology of “power” and choose to life according to your faith, prepare to have all kind of “malfunctions” in your life. Literally, all kind of “malfunctions”, everywhere: in social life, in medic life, in academic life, in professional life, in familiar life, in economic life, even in ecclesial life, and also in the life of your pets.

Some could say: well, that is not a violation of human rights, they are not technically physically restraining you and forbidding you of living your faith (actually, when a person is forced to be medicated and hospitalized, that can be considered physical restraining, but I won’t talk about that now…). Well, if some people create environments in which the only way to function normally is behaving according to what is convenient to certain ideologies and believing in certain ideologies… those are functional chains that make impossible to the Christian to function as an equal citizen, and so it is a violation of human rights: a violation of the human right of religious freedom. What changes here is the form of doing it: this way of violating human rights consists in promoting only the human rights of some, of those who behave according to the ideologies in “power”.

So, let’s say that because I believe that a marriage can only be between a man and a woman, I am given certain instructions that can imply that I must “follow instructions” of the ideology of “power” and implicitly comply to define marriage as they do, or I am being exposed to certain circumstances and situations that are only caused because the way I live my faith, in order to cause stress that make me more difficult to live according to my faith, and so I would need to define myself according to the “stress” that surrounds me or according to the “trauma” that is being caused to me and not according to the faith I strive to life. That is functional slavery, people. That is a violation of human rights: “malfunctions” are provoked in my life just because I choose to live according to my faith.

This is a very sensitive example ––and I used it on purpose, actually there could be many examples to explain this–– because some could try to “twist” this according to their ideological agenda and say that the true problem is that I am “homophobic”. It could even be implicitly said that it is “just” to violate my human rights because I’m “homophobic”. That is not the issue here. What I am doing is living according to my faith in all aspects of my life, including in what I believe about marriage, not acting against anyone ––including homosexual people––. The true issue here is that when the human rights of everyone are respected, you can believe that homosexual people can be “married” and I can believe that they can’t, because for me “marriage” is a sacrament, not only a civil union, and we would be treated equally. We can agree to disagree, and that is all right, I have no interest in imposing my faith. The issue here is that imposing certain ideologies via functional slavery ––creating environments in which the only way to function properly is by living according to certain ideologies–– IS a violation of human right. I am not saying that you can’t believe that homosexual people can be married. What I am saying is that you can’t impose your ideology with violation of human rights. No matter what is your ideology, if you promote it through violating human rights of those who don’t live according to them, that can’t be allowed in a democratic society. Period.

Let’s see some examples here. You can believe that Puerto Rico is a nation, and that is all right, but if you impose your nationalist ideology via functional slavery, that can’t be allowed in a democratic society. You can believe that socialism is the answers to all capitalism’s disasters, but if you impose your socialist ideology via functional slavery, that can’t be allowed in a democratic society. You can believe that there are more than two genders, that people can change their genders, that homosexual people can be sacramentally married ––among other common statements of the ideology of gender–– but if you impose your ideology of gender via functional slavery, you are violation human rights. You can believe that liberation theology (I know this can be a VERY twisting thing to say, because technically no “liberation” can be preached through slavery, whatever kind it is, but this is just an example…) is the best way to live the Catholic faith, but if you impose your liberation ideology through functional slavery, you are violating human rights.

How this can be applied to the classroom? If a student, in order to receive the education he or she needs, must allow to be instrumentalized ––used as an object in order to cause malfunctions on those who does not live according certain ideologies, or in order to promote behaviors that are convenient to promote certain ideologies–– that is functional slavery too, besides being exploitation and a violation of human rights in other sense: every kid has the human right to get an education “directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups” (That’s a quote from the Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26).

Read that carefully: it doesn’t says “an education directed to the full development of certain ideologies.” It says “full development of the human personality”. I won’t talk too much about what is being human now ––I have done that in the past–– but let’s remember that a human being can’t be instrumentalized, period. All instrumentalization of a person is dehumanization, and that can’t be allowed in a democratic society neither.

This is something that every teacher must strive: the full development of the human personality of his of her students, the strengthening of respect for human rights and the fundamental freedoms, the promotion of understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations (and cultures), races and religions… whatever costs. That ––among other reasons–– is why being teacher is also being a public server: a true teacher must have the disposition of serving the common good beyond his or her own convenience, no matter how dehumanized the circumstances could be, how many human rights could be violated once and once and once again via functional slavery… and although this is a call that not everyone can embrace, it is a necessary call that some people must answer generously.

Yes, we need people that is able to choose to serve the common good no matter how difficult it could be, because that is how we build a better culture and a better nation: making possible that every person can grow in communion, as a human being, as an equal, as a free person, as a brother and a sister that is helped to grow unconditionally.

I dare to say that teaching this everyday in my classroom ––that we can all grow as human beings, as brothers and sisters that grow in communion, as equal and free people–– is as important as teaching whatever I am teaching about language arts.

So, see around you carefully, and if you see any functional slavery, do what an honorable citizen would do: do not commit, promote or consent any form of violation of human rights and make what is possible for not allowing them. That is what I do every day, not only because it is what a Christian would do, but also because that is my way to serve my culture and my nation, my way to serve the common good everyday and help everyone to grow according to the dignity that God has given to them: free, equal, in peace and in fraternity.

This is what true power is about: about transforming our culture and our nation into a society that honors all human rights of everyone, into a society of life that grows in communion, into a more human and free society for everyone.

Let’s keep growing!

Heroic Choices

During this past week I heard someone around me saying that democracy is “the government of majorities.” That means: democracy is doing what most people want.

Does democracy truly means that? Well, I do not think so. My conception of democracy follows another kind of vision, a vision that embraces the growth of the whole person as fundament of any social order.

For me, the main characteristic of a democracy is that it is a social order that respect human rights. For me, democracy and human rights go hand by hand. I believe that there cannot be democracy without human rights, and there cannot be human rights without democracy; there cannot be politics without human rights and there cannot be human rights without politics. This means: if what the government wants or promotes is a violation of human rights, even if most people agrees with it or consent it, doing that is not democratic, it is a crime against humanity. This, of course, requires a correct conception of the person: it requires to be able to see that everyone is a human being with human rights to be respected. It requires to be able to see that human rights cannot be applied upon convenience. It requires a model of personal formation that is rooted in the whole human person, not only on some convenient aspects.

Here comes again a question that I have made in earlier posts: if the correct vision of our human personal formation is so important, who defines it? Who defines what is being human? Who defines what is a “human right” and what defines the basic characteristics of our humanity? Embracing the responsibility of deepen this is a true service to the common good of our culture, our nation and the whole humanity.

We can see that in order to have a democracy, a state of law cannot enough by itself. It must be accompanied by a correct conception of the person. A democracy that embraces a vision of the personal formation that does not honor all the human rights of everyone would transform the state of law in an ideological dictatorship, turning laws and government services into tools to push specific ideologies.

So, what is democracy for me? Democracy is a government system that guarantees that all the human rights of all citizens are properly respected, creating a society where everyone can grow with equality and freedom, a society that is centralized around helping to grow everyone in communion as a human being.

Democracy is a government system that promotes a correct conception of the human person and so a correct conception of the state of the law.

Democracy is a government that promotes the participation of everyone in political life, a government that promotes the inclusion of everyone in the culture and nation’s life.

Democracy is a government that builds a future filled with hope, life and peace; with growth that creates a better humanity for all.

Democracy is a government that encourages all citizens to serve the common good, even if it requires heroic choices.

This is something that is really important: you do not need to be a politic to embrace and promote democracy and human rights. I can promote democracy right here where I am with my heroic choices: choices that help everyone to grow placing the common good first. I can promote human rights right here and right now with heroic choices too: choices that give human life to my culture, that give humanity to my nation, that create a better world for everyone.

This, of course, also requires a correct conception of what is common good: what helps everyone to grow as the best person she or he can be. I mean: the “common good” is not what is convenient to some, is what helps everyone to grow in communion. The common good is the good of the whole person and the good of every person. The common goods does not refer to material aims or ideological aims but to aims that embrace our whole humanity. Yes, defending the common good sometimes requires heroic choices. We should not be afraid of serving the common good, especially if we are Christians that are specifically called to make visible God’s Love wherever you are, whatever you do. One way of doing this is substituting the “structures of sin” ––social structures that promote sin–– with “structures of Love” ––social structures that incarnate God’s Love in society––. That can only be done with a creativity that lives God’s charity everyday.

Actually, as a teacher I do all this literally everyday in my classroom. The growth choices that I make in my classroom are also heroic choices that place the common good first, and that also radiate God’s Love where I am, even If I never mention explicitly the word “God”.

I think that that is the proper way to teach democracy: with heroic choices that place the common good of all citizens ––of our culture and nation–– first; with heroic choices that make possible that every person can grow with dignity and human rights, even If you may be threatened to death for doing so, like Martin Luther King Jr was; with heroic choices that make possible a vision that sees a brother and a sister in everyone, even if they do not agree with your conceptions.

This is a very good question to make in any moment every day: how did I serve the common good today? How did I make possible today the growth of everyone as the best person he or she can be? How did I make possible today a society that is organized around serving the people, not the ideologies? How did I promoted human rights, justice, freedom and compassion today? How did I help to create a culture and a nation where everyone can be just, free and equal, where no one is excluded ––bereft of his or her dignity–– and where dehumanization ––systematic violations of human rights–– are not promoted, specially among government services?

To a Christian, this is very related to others very important questions: how did I lived charity today? How did I make visible God’s Love to the whole society, beginning with the poorest, the neediest and the most vulnerable?

This blog post is an answer to all those questions. All my words and works are also an heroic choice: to let everyone know that a social order that is based in the whole person’s growth is possible, and we are all called to make it possible with our service to the common good.

Let’s keep growing!

Choosing To Serve The Common Good

I just saw the movie Gosnell. For those that do not know what this movie is about, it tells the horrific crimes and trial of the America’s biggest serial killer, the abortion doctor Gosnell. I learned a very important lesson from this movie that can ––and should–– be taught in every classroom. I want to share this lesson here.

When the police man realizes that the narcotics investigation leads to something quite more gruesome ––the death of persons, the violation of someone’s human right of life–– he could choose to simply overlook the issue, because it was not the main objective of his investigation, and actually it would have been more comfortable, professionally speaking, to overlook the issue… but he chose not to overlook the issue and do the right thing: to investigate it further, eventually making possible the whole trial of Dr. Gosnell.

The conversation that this police officer had while he is convincing his colleagues to investigate further the women’s death is worthy of being shared here. As he is told that what he believed ––that a crime was committed–– implied “a lot of assumption” he states all the facts that clearly indicated that a crime was committed and insists to his colleagues:

––Now she’s dead and no one seems to give a damn?

––You seem to give a damn.

––I do

––Ok, what kind of procedure was it?

––Abortion.

––What?

––I thought you were pro-choice

––What does that have to do with anything?

––I don’t know, what does that have to do with anything, Dan?

––It complicates things.

––Am I in the right place here? This is homicide, right? Homicide? Because this is homicide, Dan. It’s homicide.

What is happening here? A crime is committed ––a violation of human rights is committed–– and it is almost overlooked simply due ideological reasons, because it was related to abortion, and “it complicates things”. I say “almost” because eventually it is investigated further… thanks to several public servers that chose to do the right thing despite it was a professional risk for everyone.

What is the lesson that is worthy to be taught about this movie? This is the lesson: the defense of human rights is not and should not be transformed into an ideological issue. The defense of human rights must be unconditional: all human rights must be respected in everyone, everywhere, no matter what.

Affirming all human rights of everyone is not and cannot be related to being pro-choice or pro-life. It cannot be related to believe that Love is Love or that God is Love. Affirming all human rights of everyone must be done unconditionally. If a violation of human rights happens (life is a human right and the woman and babies that were murdered were denied that fundamental human right), it must be denounced clearly, no matter who commits it, and no matter how “ideologically uncomfortable” it could be, or how much “it complicates things”.

When we transform the defense of human rights into an ideological issue, a dehumanization process begins: human rights are affirmed only at the convenience of a certain ideological view, dehumanizing all those that are not convenient to that ideological view, and applying human rights only as it is convenient to that ideological view. I don’t know if you can see what is the problem here: the human life and the human growth becomes an ideological instrument of the socio-political order, instead of being an inalienable end of the whole socio-political order. What should be affirmed unconditionally in everyone ––their humanity, their human rights–– becomes an ideological commodity that is granted only to some.

Does this happen? Yes, it does. We are seeing public servers, businesses and politicians that clearly only promote and respect human rights according to their ideological view or according what is more profitable to them. We are seeing persons that in the name of the promotion of their ideology justify the violation of human rights of those who does not live according to that ideology.

Let’s give an example here.

A person creates a work of art that paints a God that is Love, promoting her faith accordingly (marriage is between a woman and a man, inspiring a new model of personal formation, etc…). Living that faith contradicts multiple ideological agendas of those who are in multiple positions of power and influence… (It actually contradicts any ideology that dehumanizes the human person, transforming him or her into an ideological instrument.) The work of art is meant to share God’s Love, but sharing God’s Love has several consequences that clearly contradict their ideological political agenda: defending all human rights of everyone, not consenting corruption, not consenting the ideological exploitation of persons… So on, so on.

So, the human rights of the person that created this work of art begin to be violated, done in such way that the violations cannot be proved legally. She begins to be tortured constantly ––psychologically torture that can turn into physical torture in certain circumstances–– in the plain view of everyone… All this done in order to break that artist in such way that is harder to her to live according to her faith and to live a normal citizen life. If falsification of reality is needed to break the credibility of that artist, so no one can takes seriously her words and work, it is done accordingly, even if it requires to provoke a false psychiatrical diagnosis made by multiple institutions, to manipulate her medical reports, to use court orders to force her to be medicated and alter her memory and her cognitive capacity… all this done in plain view of everyone, but the authorities and public servers that could do something about it not only do not do anything, but consent, participate and collaborate in the psychological torture, promote it and allow other people to participate, even if that means the exploitation of vulnerable people, like old people, disabled persons and kids that cannot reason by themselves what they are doing.

In this case doing something to denounce the violations of human rights would be “ideologically inconvenient”: defending the human rights of the person that made that work of art contradicts very “powerful” ideological agendas. It doesn’t matter that violations of human rights are being committed even by persons involved in government’s services: all that matters is to affirm their ideological agendas, even if that means to dehumanize a whole society, and even if the intention of the artist that made the work of art new was to oppose anyone, but just living her faith (that is another human right, by the way).

This is a very important detail: when anyone tries to dehumanize someone else, the dehumanized is the one that tries to dehumanize, and if it is a socially promoted death-culture, the whole society becomes dehumanized… I mean: when a whole society promotes to dehumanize those who doesn’t stand certain ideological view, or those who are inconvenient to a certain ideological view, promoting only the human right of a few, we face a systematic dehumanization system. Said in other words: we have an ideological concentration camp, like Auschwitz was.

So, do we keep the human rights violation proceed just because it is not pro-gender ideology, or pro-nationalism, or pro-socialism, or pro-populism, or pro any other ideological view? Can the defense the human rights of some ––of those who are convenient to a certain ideological view–– can be done by violating the human rights of others?

These are the kind of questions and situations that are possible when the defense of human rights becomes an ideological instrument. This cannot be allowed anywhere, anyhow, to anyone. When a violation of human right happens, we need people like the police men and women in this movie: public servers that are able to stand for human rights unconditionally, not because it is a pro-life issue, not because it is a pro-choice issue, not because it is a pro-ideology of gender issue, not because it is a pro-religious freedom issue… but because it is a human issue: when violation of human rights are systematically allowed, a dehumanization process is allowed, like it was during nazism, and this cannot be allowed, for only for the common good of our whole country but of the whole humanity.

As one of the police officers of the movie says: “The way I see it, you got a couple of choices here…” You have the choice of serve humanity’s common good and make possible to stop all kind of dehumanization… or you have the choice of serve ideologies and allow dehumanization and systematic violation of human rights to keep going on.

I made my choice: to serve the common good. I made this choice not only as civic duty, as a public service for my people and my nation, but as a faith duty, as a God-given duty: among the many things that radiating God’s Love implies, it implies to make possible that everyone can grow as a brother and a sister of the same human family, that everyone’s dignity can be recognized unconditionally. If violation of human rights are allowed, especially if they are systematic, that is not possible. You cannot radiate God’s Love and consent or even commit violations of human rights.

I don’t mind if some people say “this is about anti-abortion agenda, no one touches that…”, or “this is about anti-LGBTT agenda, no one touches that…” I even do not mind if some people say “this is just about pro-religious freedom agenda…” or “this is just about pro-life agenda…” Whatever side people see it, left or right, I don’t mind. Violations of human rights is dehumanization, and it cannot be allowed, no matter what. Human dignity and human rights must always be affirmed, no matter what.

All this may seem that is something that a government should do: affirming everyone’s human rights. It is true. A government should be ordered to make possible the recognition of everyone’s human rights, to make possible everyone’s growth in communion, as a brother and a sister of the human family whose human rights are unconditionally recognized, including their human right of life and freedom. When a government is not ordered to serve the person and violations of human rights begin to be allowed by public authorities, we can begin to talk about crimes against humanity…

But the truth is that we can also make possible the unconditional recognition of all human rights of everyone in our ordinary lives. The change doesn’t begin with the government: the change begins with each citizen. One citizen that chooses to stand for human rights is enough to defy a whole system that only promotes the defense of human rights of some, justifying the dehumanization of everyone else. As John F. Kennedy said: “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” I know what I can do for my country. As a citizen, I can promote unconditional recognition of all human rights of everyone, I can make possible that everyone can grow as a brother and a sister of the same human family, I can promote a non-ideological conception of the human person. As a Christian, I can make all that possible through radiating God’s Love unconditionally, giving a true hope to my people, to my nation and to humanity: no matter how gruesome dehumanization can become, God’s Love can make all things anew.

This is something that must be taught in all classrooms: the unconditional recognition of everyone’s human rights is not an ideological matter and it is not only a government’s duty. This recognition begins with each citizen, through choosing in our ordinary lives to help to grow everyone in communion, to recognize everyone’s human dignity unconditionally and to make possible that all human rights of everyone are unconditionally respected. This means to constantly choose to serve the common good, not the ideology of some. When you dare to choose this despite any kind of intimidation you may encounter, sooner or later you create the change that your country needs to recognize everyone’s human rights unconditionally, not only because you are pro-life, not only because you are pro-religious freedom, not only because you are anti-ideologies (any kind), but because you are pro-growth, pro-humanity and pro-democracy.

That is another very important detail: being pro-human rights also means to be pro-democracy. In order to promote democracy two very important things are needed: the rule of law and the right conception of the human person. Making possible that everyone’s human rights are respected is united with promoting the right conception of the human person. If you don’t have the right conception of the human person, you can’t affirm the human rights of everyone. When you make possible the right conception of the human person, you also make possible that all human rights of everyone are unconditionally recognized, and when that is done you are not only serving the common good by making possible that everyone can grow in communion, as a brother and as a sister of the same human family: you are also promoting democracy, promoting a social order that makes possible the best growth possible of everyone and for everyone.

So… we all have a choice to make in our ordinary lives, right here, right now. Do we stand for humanity or do we stand for ideologies? Do we promote ideological concentration camps or do we promote everyone’s best growth possible? Do we serve the common good of everyone or do we serve the ideological good of some? Do we promote a democracy or do we promote an “ideocracy”? Do we serve our country and our humanity or do we serve our ideologies? Do we promote the recognition of all human rights of everyone or we promote only the recognition of the human rights of some?

All those questions could be resumed in one: How I made possible today the recognition of everyone as a brother and a sister of the same human family?

This may also be asked in an even simpler way: do we choose to humanize or do we choose to dehumanize? Do we choose to “abort” humanity from our society or to radiate humanity to our society? Do we choose to serve a culture of growth or a culture of death, to serve a nation that helps to grows in communion or a nation that helps to dehumanize systematically?

I repeat again the phrase of the movie: “The way I see it, you got a couple of choices here…”

It doesn’t matter if ideological agendas “complicate” things: affirming everyone’s human rights, including the rights of those ––even children–– that are ideologically exploited, is a choice that is well worth the “complication”. That is what a true public server ––all teachers should be public servers–– is called to choose: to serve the common good, to affirm all human rights of everyone, no matter how complicated it can be. Teaching to answer this kind of questions wisely, to choose making the right choices ––and if the right choice is not possible, choosing to make the right choices possible…–– is part of choosing to serve the common good.

If you are a Christian, as I am, choosing to serve the common good also means to choose to radiate God’s Love unconditionally, no matter what, no matter who, no matter when, no matter how… because that is what a true Christian does: choose love over hate, choose a culture of life over a culture of death, choose peace over violence, choose fraternity over exclusion, choose patience over anger, choose mercy over worldly justice, choose humility over imposition of power, choose conscience over convenience… choose to radiate God’s Love with every choice.

So, what you are going to choose?

I have already made my choice, with all the consequences it may imply.  As a citizen and a public server, I choose to serve the common good. As a Christian, I choose to radiate God’s Love.

Let’s keep growing!

Toxic Dehumanization

Classrooms are not exempt of the many social problems that ravage our humanity. Today I am going to talk a little bit about one of those social problems: toxic dehumanization. What is toxic dehumanization? For explaining this I need to explain some details further.

It all began when someone told me he wanted to “eradicate toxic masculinity”. I had no idea of what that term meant. I do know what “machismo” is, but at that moment I had no idea that “toxic masculinity” is basically its synonym. The person then explained me that it was a term that was just created as a psychological disorder by APA…

Then the next day the famous Gillete ad came, and suddenly the term “toxic masculinity” was everywhere.

Well, as I see it, the true problem is not “toxic masculinity”. I am not saying that I agree with “toxic masculinity”, I do agree that it is a social problem. What I say is that “toxic masculinity” is a symptom of another disorder, instead of being a disorder by itself.

As I see it, the disorder behind “toxic masculinity” and many other “social disorders” is “toxic dehumanization”: practices that legitimizes a powerful ideological dominant position in society and justifies the subordination of the human common good and human personal formation to an ideology.

Let’s use the Gillete ad example. If this ad was truly meant to “eradicate toxic masculinity”, it would have not been used precisely to promote the use of psychological aggression (aka: violence) as an indicator of power, something that “toxic masculinity” promotes.

We can’t only promote “the best man can be”. We must promote “the best human being can be”. There is a slight different in seeking to promote only what can be good only to some and what can be good to all. Promoting only the growth of some is violence, if violence is defined as anything that violates human rights.

Something that is very commonly related to “toxic dehumanization” is doing everything just as an opposition to something or someone. Instead of affirming their being according who they truly are, they will affirm who they are according to who or what they oppose, because an ideology can’t be affirmed by itself, so it must be affirmed as an opposition to someone or something. Said in other forms: toxic dehumanization promotes the growth of human being as a process of opposition to who we are (a process of dehumanization, a process of ideological opposition to the human being), instead of being a process of affirmation of who we are (a process of humanization, a process of personal affirmation of the human being), as it should be. If you choose not to affirm what it is (the being), the only way you can affirm yourself is in opposition to the being. This applies one the almost–forgotten–by–everyone ontological properties of all beings: no being can be and not be at the same time.

Instead of affirming the truth (“this is dehumanization”), toxic dehumanizers will say “this is humanization” but only to promote the best personal formation possible of some: of those who are convenient to their “ideological dominant position”. All others who do not “comply” with that position will be seen as “opposition” to them. All others who are not convenient or important according to that position will be simply dehumanized.

If you have eyes to see and ears to hear, you will realize that this is happening today way too often and that toxic dehumanization ––a disorder that switches the social order from promoting the best growth of everyone to promoting the “ideological dominant position”–– is a very serious problem of our society, a disorder with many symptoms, like toxic masculinity. You can see toxic dehumanization in the poor people that die of hunger because there are not important as human beings to those who are only interested in promoting the ideological dominant position. You can see it in the so many children that instead of getting an education that is ordered to promote the best growth possible for everyone and making possible that everyone can be the best they can be, it is ordered to promote the ideological dominant position, leaving those who are not convenient to the ideological dominant position behind. You can see it in the many disabled, vulnerable and elderly people that are helped only if they comply with the dominant ideological position, of that are helped only in the way that it is convenient to the ideological dominant position, instead of being helped in the way that helps them grow as the best person they can be… so on, so on, there are many ways to see how toxic dehumanization ravages our society as a process of ideological opposition that happens inside out.

The only solution to toxic dehumanization is igniting personal humanization processes, igniting an integractive humanism, a new humanization: practices that legitimizes a human personal inclusive position in society, centering society in the human common good and promoting the best personal formation possible of everyone. There are so many ways to do this! Just be creative.

So, how to do this in the classroom? How to promote the human common good and the best personal formation possible of everyone in the classroom?

For me, the answer is: helping to grow unconditionally, contemplating everyone not only as a student –or a teacher, or a boss, or a director, or an administrator, or a janitor…–– but also as a human being that is in the middle of a growth process where mistakes are allowed and part of the process.

As a Christian, contemplating everyone as a human being is rooted in a very beautiful God-given giftedness: contemplating unconditionally in everyone the light of human dignity that God has given to every person, to every son and daughter of the Creator. No matter how a person behaves, he or she is not defined by his or her behavior. Every person must be defined primarily as God defines him or her: as a human being with a God-given dignity that must be respected unconditionally.

So, think for a moment: how can you start humanization processes exactly where you are? Whatever the answer is, dare to plan it and to execute it. Eradicating toxic humanization and promoting humanization processes everywhere is a duty not only of a teacher, but of everyone citizen interested in serving the common good, interested in creating a more human culture, a more human nation, a more human humanity… a better world for all, where anyone ––not only men, or not only those convenient to the “dominant ideological position”–– can choose to become the best they can be.