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The Shadow in the Room November 8, 2016

Posted by Janjan in Uncategorized.

For the past few years, the eighth of November seems to be, to the Philippines, what the eleventh of September is to the Americans.  It is a day that portends tragedy and mourning.  In the year 2013, it was the day when Typhoon Yolanda / Haiyan struck the country and created the largest catastrophe in human history.

In the year 2016, the Supreme Court ruled, allowing the burial of Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (the country’s national Graveyard of Heroes, for those who have died defending the country).

There is no way to lessen the pain Filipinos now collectively feel, regardless of where you stand on this issue.  For those of us who fought the good fight during EDSA and the toppling of Martial Law, this is a slap on our faces… a proverbial salt rubbed on one’s wounds.  We had loved ones that were arrested, tortured, and murdered by the Marcos government during the Martial Law days.  The Supreme Court’s act is a betrayal to those sacrifice of lives.

For those who believe in Ferdinand Marcos’ heroism and martyrdom, I cannot believe that they will callously rejoice in the victory of their cause.  At some level, perhaps in the sub-conscious, they will feel the pain and trauma of the ever deepening divide among their brother and sister Filipinos.

I am not here to cast judgment, or at least, not anymore.

What’s done is done.

In the last few years, I have been subjected to a series of crises both personal and national, and it has made me turn more inward… to that which views each moment as a spiritual awakening.  So let’s strip away any political color in this event, and see this with the lens of spirituality.

Fact:  Martial Law was a reality.  So many died at the hands of the Marcos government.  So much of our national economy was plundered and used to enrich the coffers of the Marcos family.

Fact:  The Supreme Court has ruled that there is no legal impediment to the burial of Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

These are both wounds.  Wounds that will never heal.  It is like a bone broken twice that can be set and mended, but it will never be the same.  It is like getting over from the heartbreak of being rejected by the only person that you have ever truly loved.

You never get over the pain.  You just learn to walk away wounded.

With so many calls for forgiveness and healing, I keep thinking now… what if these are wounds that are not meant to heal?  These are wounds whose pain will forever remind you and haunt you… a precautionary tale to help future generations remember and never be complacent.

Every time we gaze at the tomb of Marcos, it will remind us of the separation his life and struggle has caused between a Philippine nation that strives for unity and cooperation.  What if we are meant to be separated?  What if in our division, our spirit becomes stronger, and more resilient?

The psychologist Karl Jung talks about a restorative psychiatric treatment called “Embracing the Shadow”.  The Shadow is that part of our collective subconscious which contains all the traits we find abhorrent.  Greed, callousness, malevolence, and all the others.  We abhor the Shadow because it is a part of us.  All these dark and evil traits, as much as we are loathe to admit, they are part and parcel of our psyche and we cannot detach from them, no matter how hard we fight.

Embracing the Shadow is the act of acknowledging the darkness and accepting that it is a part of us.  We allow it to be brought to conscious thought, in order to witness its rage and bring it to healing.  To bring these parts of ourselves to loving acceptance and self-compassion.

The Catholics call this “The Long Dark Night of the Soul.”  The Buddhists call this “Mara”, the demon that points to the sufferings which man creates for himself.

I call this, “the Shadow in the room, where none should be.”

Healing comes when we allow the Shadow to rise from its depths and place it within our attention for recognition and awareness, for it to be surrounded by the light and meshed into our being.

The burial of Marcos will happen, and as much as I hate to admit it, perhaps the Loyalists are correct.  Perhaps a healing can happen, but not in the way they think it will.  When we place him in the forefront of our consciousness, it will remind us of our country’s brokenness, and of the fact that we will never truly know justice and peace until each and every one of us works within and brings about the change needed to transform our country.  We cannot rely on our governments, nor in our institutions to effect it.

We Filipinos have to start working on ourselves, and healing our individual brokenness.  We have to transform one by one until we bring ourselves to states of compassion and love.  Perhaps then we will truly live in a just and humane society.

There is a Japanese artform called “Kintsugi”, or one where pottery once broken is mended and brought back to form with bindings of molten gold.  It exists to point out that one is even more beautiful for having been broken.

Perhaps Marcos’ burial is the lacquer which not only serves to bind us together, but to remind us that we are broken and fragmented.  But there is a beauty in that.  Acceptance is the way we embrace and transcend all our troubles and hurts.

Blessings of peace and healing light to our country.  Wherever you stand, whatever political colors, you fly, I love you all.  Let us hold hands and be Filipinos.



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