How was your Holy Week, dear readers? Hope you all had a meaningful, relaxing one with your families.
I always look forward to the Lenten Season. Itâ€™s been a family tradition for us to do the Visita Iglesia. Last week, I paused to reflect on many things. I reflected on Godâ€™s passion and humanity. And in so doing, I reflected on my own humanity.
Recently, I had a cross to bear. I was caught in the eye of a storm. I stirred the hornetâ€™s nest. And then boom, it hit me, how powerful social media is. It can make or break you, your spirit.
I was bullied in social media. And one thing I learned is that whether you are right or wrong, as long as you stand up for something, you also have to be ready for anything, you have to be ready for all the swords and arrows to be swung at you.
We hear all sorts of news every day, we are surrounded and bombarded by so much information and opinion. With the monster (and friend) that social media has become, it is so easy to react with just one click of a button, or swipe of your finger.
Itâ€™s so easy to â€œlike and unlike.â€ Itâ€™s so easy to tweet and re-tweet.
If we find something toxic like a dissenting view which we think is false or morally wrong, should we resort to bashing and taking things to a low personal level of attack?
Personally, if there is news that I perceive to be toxic offhand, Iâ€™d still read it or listen to it. And then I make a thought process, and if I know that it will only end up damaging my sensibilities and my core, then I discard it and move on and adhere to my lifeâ€™s own truths that work for me. I am not saying that this is the right thing everyone must adhere to, I am simply saying that this is what I do.
I do not and will not resort to hatred directed towards the person who dispensed such dissenting opinion. For that is bigotry.
I also asked for forgiveness from those I may have offended with what I wrote. In all honesty, I meant no harm. I didnâ€™t mean to hurt peopleâ€™s feelings. I was not claiming to be an expert, for I simply shared my experience. And an experience is subjective. It should not be judged as right or wrong.
I pray that someday soon we will all fully understand each other, respect and accept each otherâ€™s differences in beliefs and opinions.
If there is one thing I learned from this recent experience, it is about human nature and humanity. I am thankful because there are people who will try to understand first and put everything in perspective before reacting or passing on judgment.
A friend of mine shared this with me:
â€œThere will be haters, there will be doubters. There will be non-believers. And then there will be you, proving them wrong.â€ â€” kushandwizdom
But there are more who have taken the higher ground by understanding the differences in opinion, and then they showed me the most noble, humane act of forgiveness.
Thank you to the LGBT communities, which chose the higher ground. Bemz Benedito of Ladlad Partylist, salamat. Tito Boy Abunda, salamat. Joanna Zapanta Andrada, Arnell Ignacio, Morly Alinio and my editor Ricky Lo, salamat. For those I may have not publicly mentioned to thank here in my column, I thank you in silence.
I wish to thank the people, mostly parents like myself, who continue to send me encouraging tweets, personal messages via Facebook, text and Yahoo thread posts.
Thank you to Rollie Reyes of Courage Philippines for your message of support. Thank you for understanding me because we share a common thing: We are parents.
Thank you my lovely, brilliant and fun gay friends whom I have worked with (and continue to work with to this day) since the beginning of my career in 1993. Itâ€™s been two decades of harmonious friendships with you, filled with love, trust and respect. Thank you.
We all do our utmost best in raising our kids. If in the end, Julius and I make monumental mistakes as parents, Heaven forbid, we will not blame others or even ourselves, for we know in our hearts that we did our utmost best. And that we loved our children unconditionally.
To each his own in bringing up our kids the way you deem fit as long as the universal values of humanity are instilled in your child as he grows up: Love for God, being prayerful and essentially following the Commandments of God.
Having said all these, I continue to learn each day, as a parent, as a person. I will make mistakes along the way. That is inevitable for I am not perfect. In all humility I say, I am just learning day by day. I devote my life to learning new things each day, and enrich my life with the knowledge passed on to me.
I have risen from that recent trial and I learned so much from the experience. Humility and forgiveness. Rising up and moving on.
It is my hope that we continue to learn from each other and share things from each otherâ€™s lives in the most positive and optimistic ways.
â€œPeople will hate you, rate you, shake you and break you. But how strong you stand is what makes you.â€ â€” Unknown
Let me end by sharing this beautiful quote from Aleph by Paulo Coelho:
â€œI free myself from hatred through forgiveness and love. I understand that suffering, when it cannot be avoided, is here to help me on my way to glory. I understand that everything is connected, that all roads meet, and that all rivers flow into the same sea.â€