Living with covid-19 (together with the unvaccinated; news from Norway, Singapore, Thailand, …) : less restrictions despite more expected

That people are breaking out from the the fear associated with covid-19, that science is holding its voice against partisan politics, that countless selfless researchers are doing their utmost best in the race against time to save lives and sanity, this is very encouraging.

Just arm yourselves against the recklessness of careless humans who are either information-deficient or empathy-deficient. With or without government-sanctioned restrictions.

May God help us all.

Job, resurrected*

A letter from Tara’s friend, Abby. Abby is a victim of narcissistic abuse by certain family members and has just found out about it.

(featured image is Job and His Three Friends by James Jacques Joseph Tissot)


Tara, dear,
I’m beginning to question why I am being alive at all. Is my purpose to be abused by my family? Did God put me here so that I can be the receiver of abuse? Is this why I was created? I get born, I get to be abused, and then I die without having rest from the abuse?

Just now I was listening to my housemates conversing over our morning cup and the conclusion is that they hope we’ll get together again, the family.

My God, they have no idea how this family destroyed my life, and they can only hope that I be “humble” enough so that we all get “reconciled.”

My God. I will never ever have the chance to have a life as me, Abby, I’m gonna die being used all the way. My being a good person, a good daughter, a good human, has trapped me in this abuse. There’s no escape from it. God Himself allowed me to get this abuse. I have always followed God’s rules and this is the outcome. Is God happy that I ended up like this, and only a decade or two before I die? And then, what, does heaven even exist? What is the sense of my consciousness? Why was I even allowed this awareness? Is God happy that I suffered because of my generosity and humility and understanding and kindness and empathy? I can’t believe it all. God does not make sense.

You know me, Tara. I don’t speak unless I mean it, so may God forgive me. He already knows my thoughts before I wrote down everything.

I’ll see you soon. Until then, take care.
Hugs,
Abby

* The Book of Job, in the Bible, tells of the character Job who suffered unimaginable loses despite his adherence to God’s rules as was taught in his day (this was around 4,000 years ago, as is believed by many scholars, in the Arabian region). Job expresses his hurt and existential questions to God in the hearing of his wife and friends. The book is so much worth reading and/or researching about. It tackles one of the most difficult questions of humanity: a suffering that does not make sense.

Tara’s friend, Abby, is experiencing a similar agony to Job’s, though not exactly. I thank Abby and Tara for sharing the core content of Abby’s letter. This letter, together with the thoughts and comments by the readers (that’s you, dear friend), which will eventually contribute to the overall content of this post, will surely help the many persons around the world who are undergoing a similar experience as Job then, and Abby now.

May the posters below be of help to those who are seeking answers. May God bless us all.

Thanks many times to the owners of the posters! (uhuh, I don’t own any of them) Be well, my friend.

Beach Life (1 and 2)

Beach Life. Part 1. Reason: Mom at 83.

Mommy is a frail 83 year-old lady who had pneumonia eleven years ago. This meant being very vigilant and extra careful regarding the present covid pandemic. What we did was retreat from our formerly crowded community and retreated to our rural home.

But, alas, the idyllic spot hid some camouflaging snakes of the worst kind (opportunistic humans who prey on the unwary). This, together with the distance from mom’s other family members, made her feel unsettled. It took a toll on her nerves and health. She was always worried about this and that.

So, at 82, mom once again gathered her strength to transfer the entire hosehold stuff accross the sea, to the house where she raised her children.

But, alas, the idyllic spot hid some camouflaging snakes of the worst kind (opportunistic humans who prey on the unwary). Mom named the snakes and in return she lost her good health. Her bones and muscles and heart ached, and she longed for the beach once again.

So, at 83, mom got to the beach that was the birthplace of her dear husband, my dad.

She is recuperating, and we hope to enjoy our new beach life. As God wills. Amen.

Beach Life. Part 2. Reality: Heaven Despite Poverty.

Because mom is still recuperating, then I can’t post her picture. Instead, I have here pictures of paradise.

The snakes in this paradise are harmless to us. We have personal immunity against them, so to say. We are free to go where we want in this little beach place, the thought of which is kind of next to heaven.

But don’t let the scenes mislead you. This is rural Philippines. The bottom line is poverty. Always always always. Don’t let the kids’ laughters and the adults’ smiles fool you. In the houses of families who have lived next to the beach for generations, many go by a one-day-one-eat existence. Eating twice a day is almost the norm. Many have lifetimes of debts, incurred for the family’s food’s sake. When torrential rains come, the earth-floors turn to stamping-earth-pads of bare little feet that can’t be stopped from romping around. Sweet innocent souls—muddied arms and feet and gleefully chattering like the noisy morning birds.

Don’t let the blissful looking beach trick you into believing that there can be no sadness in paradise, here on earth. Yet all who come to the water’s edge will say, “The sea breeze does wonders for the soul.” Mom and I will have lungfulls of this sea breeze and she’ll say, “It is best to let one’s mind ripple like water over the cares of this world.”

Alas, many will agree with her.

Nancy’s Confession: My Deadly Anger

People tell me I should avoid anger because it is the soul’s poison. I would agree with them, echoing my agreement over the correctness of the wise saying. Nevertheless, as fate would deem it as timely, I was unfortunate enough to overlook trusted biblical principles that should have helped me avoid my own failure: falling into the trap of an all-consuming anger.

“Their anger is as deadly as the poison of a snake. They shut their ears like a deaf cobra.”

Psalm 58:4. (ERV)

From Psalm 58:4 I am able to understand that anger is fatal. It makes one heedless of the inherent danger. The element of urgency that empowers it demands an immediate antidote to counter its destructiveness. In the absence of the antidote, only a miracle can save the situation. Heedless anger will consume its course regardless of the possible or imminent danger to the wielder of this threat.

“Your anger is hurting no one but you.”

Job 18:4a. (ERV)

From Job 18:4 I am able to understand that anger hurts both its wielder and the receiver. I am a physical non-violent person. My anger hurts the receiver in the psychological sense, not in the physical sense. I do not strike blows. Instead, I cut off communication. This is tantamount to making the receiver feel the deadness of our relationship where I am concerned. It denies the personhood of the receiver. No blows landed and caused bruises but the heart and mind of the receiver should sense the disconnection. Does the receiving party even felt some sting from the disconnection? It so happens that lately I have learned to assume that the disconnection was sensed but a psychological-wound’s-sting is non-existent. Instead, it is a sting to the pride that is perceived as being challenged; a sting to the self-sense of special privilege that is being questioned.  The receiver of the anger will raise some protective rage because their self-perceived supremacy received a blow.

On my part, I mourn for the death of a relationship because for me it is a real death. It is a dead deadness, a nothingness, the void of having no faith in God. It is a personal tragedy. It hurts my spirit. It diminishes the fire of life that burns in my soul. It is deadlier than the hand blow.

As I was relating earlier, I fell into the anger trap. I would like to excuse myself, though, by appealing to THE reason—I was wronged. I was robbed, disrespected, disregarded, taken for granted, and abused. Not once. Not twice. Not tree times. But again and again and again—more than seventy times seven.

The back of the camel broke because of the last straw. That was very unfortunate. The camel’s back lacked the strength to carry that last single straw. How tragic!

“God shows his anger from heaven against all the evil and wrong things that people do.”

Romans 1:18a. (ERV)

However, unlike the Creator who wields all power and who owns all things, my righteous anger did not spare me from the repercussions of the deadly reaction to evil.

My blood boiled and my heart pumped extra life-support fluids to my overworked central nervous system. For hours on end my flesh was fighting for the calm stability that it’s used to. And so the only way to keep my system functioning in sync was to increase my energy-providing processes. My spirit could handle the aberrations but my physical body was begging for placid steadiness.

Obviously, anger prevents a restful state of the human consistency. Anger forces the body to work overtime. Anger is a killing machine.

So, I, Nancy, concluded that anger has its acceptable reasons, but it is not intended as a permanent fixture of the human body. We are not created to be angry many times in our lifetime. Anger is a luxury for when a wrong has been committed against a person. It is not a means to force a certain reality to take place. It is not a human being’s source of power.

“Do you think this world was made for you alone? Do you think God should move mountains just to satisfy you?”

Job 18:4b. (ERV)

Nevertheless, the processing of anger in the spiritual level must exempt the physical level. True, this is very difficult to achieve, yet it has been done by the multitudes who have to face abuses and trespasses against their personhood.

My anger, my protection against violations to my humanity, will be relegated to a venue where it can be resolved and where it will help in the healing of my nervous system—to coax back my memory cells from the realms of fright and shocked horror.

Anger is capable of hurting both the person who wields it and the person at the receiving end. My self-resolution of the personal protest which manifested as anger will serve as:

(1.) A clarificatory gauge or a warning mark to show the severity of the suffered violations, and so may guard against the perpetuation on an ongoing abuse;

(2.) An assurance to the physical body that the threat is being dismantled and so will not be capable anymore of creating havoc in the normalcy of the body systems’ interrelated pacing.

Since I’m not the Creator, since I have no jurisdiction over all things, then I will not assume that I can wield my anger in any which way to please myself—this is the devil’s lie which opens the door to danger, allowing my anger to destroy me.

Job 18:4b. (ERV) “Do you think this world was made for you alone? Do you think God should move mountains just to satisfy you?”

Instead, I will use it as a shield to protect myself from the deceitfulness of those who only wish me harm. Amen.

-By guest author Nancy Lam, giving a glimpse of how messages from the Bible can help victims of abuse and similar phenomena to cope and eventually heal.-

Growing Up

I fought through this long journey

with stacks of innocence.

I went through the road with nothing on me

but knowledge of others’ wisdom gleaned

through long years of monotonous rote

learning through reading and hearing

of possibilities happening to journeyers like me.

As I went through the road with

almost nothing on me, the gleaning along

pointed out to me in shock and in

envy, in fear and in worry, that

either I’m on the wrong road, or on the

wrong side of the road, or behind

the road, or on the road that

leads on and on.

As I am going through this road

with very little on me, I know

I have my own with me;

what precious very little I carry I earned,

paid with precious shattered innocence.

(15th July 2002)

Photo on top by Isaac Wendland on Unsplash

Photo by Keenan Barber on Unsplash

For John (a USMC veteran who became my student)

John,

You led me into quite an adventure!—wow! how I found out for myself such exotic stuff as warriors’ codes, such exclusive names as jarheads, gyrenes, leathernecks, devil dogs 🙂

It’s good to have met you. It will take one in a million more chances to meet another one like you. And you have asked for my help! Miracle!

You would smile when you’re embarrassed coming late to class—and even with real amusement, haha!—when I was lambasting some classmate of yours for not paying attention to the lecture, or when I would loudly lament the poor responses to the lessons that show as low marks in the tests.

I pray that God will always take care of you.

You said you’re not brave. I believed you. You said you’d just be doing your job if you’re called again to war. I believed you. I have no more illusions left when it comes to humans facing their “moments of truth.” For although I’ve had only a few of them myself, I have heard and read of and seen such circumstances happening. I was even private into the sentiments of the actors.

I was taking chances when I asked you directly: “Have you killed a human being?” And your body language when you answered me, directly, told all of the anguish which accompanied something you simply had to do and of how difficult it was to answer that question.

Take care. Do what you have to do. I know of a Being who is with you in whatever you do. Hasta la vista, mi amigo.

Ma’am Mona (Iloilo City, written 20 October 2002)

U.S. Marines with Black Sea Rotational Force 18.1 advance to their objective during a patrolling exercise (PEX) at U.S. Army base Nova Selo Forward Operating Site, Bulgaria, May 10, 2018. PEX enhances platoon readiness and increases the ability to conduct patrols at the squad level. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by LCpl. Angel D. Travis)—from the National Defense Magazine online.

The story behind the letter:

John, not his real name, was my student in College Algebra. I was drawn to his aura because he looked different from the rest. He was a “delinquent” algebra student, as half of the class was, haha!, simply because it was algebra, which is something I can perfectly understand and so have nothing against those who struggle in it. However, as a teacher of 40 students I was urging everyone to reach the minimum requirements of the course so that they could be done with it, and so be able to move on to their major courses. I especially felt for this group because many were trying to finish an agriculture degree.

Eventually John had to ask for my help, which I responded to. I wish all my other students who needed help did as he did—asked for help. In the States this is something normal. Even in ADMU (Ateneo de Manila University) where the kind-hearted President Fr. Ben Nebres was my teacher, this was also normal. But alas, not so among my many algebra students. Perhaps they did not have extra time for extra lessons. I’m sure there are other more valid reasons. The only avenue for urging students to do better, then, was in the classroom during class. Hence, class lectures were also sometimes emotional times for me. John would smile a bit whenever I sounded anxious for my students, and especially when the topic was a bit complicated.

John came to see me as a teacher-confidante for that semester. He would talk to me as a friend, not for long lengths, but enough for me to see that many things he was sharing with me were not free-for-all. On my part, I was basically at awe of talking to somebody who has been to a real war. John took part in the campaign in Bosnia-Herzegovina two decades ago or so.

Instead of badgering him for more information, I turned to books. There I was able to learn many things about the world of the USMC. What remained with me now is the clarity of the reason why the USMC fellows of the small groups are able to go through the horrors of an engagement: because they look out for each other, because they have to take care of each other, because they have each other’s backs, because they are in it together, dead or alive. In not so many words John was able to convey this fundamental truth to me. The person in the war is a non-abstract actor, this I came to see.

I hope John is now happily tilling his farmland somewhere and rearing up beautiful children. He deserves a good life.

Semper Fi.

Featured Image on top: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Isaiah Gomez/Released 190427-M-JQ384-1078.JPG
(June 20, 2019) A U.S. Marine rifle squad with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations East-Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, pauses for a moment of silence during the Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day Ceremony at the Onslow Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Lejeune Memorial Gardens, Jacksonville, North Carolina, April 27, 2019. The ceremony honored the memory of those who died during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans. (https://www.marines.mil/Photos/igphoto/2002147602/igcategory/Veterans/)

Running Like a Fox

“Man ran through his life like a fox, with the dogs baying at his heels. They would get him by the throat in the end, nothing was more certain than that. The chase must always end in the same way—death was the final disaster, the final lonely defeat which came to all of us. There was no way of winning, but one could at least lose with dignity, and dignity meant fighting all the way, until the breath was out of your body, and then turning on the hounds, snarling and snapping, before they finally tore you to pieces. Only one sin was unforgiveable. That was to give up the struggle, to acquiesce in the determination of the world to destroy you.

He picked the bottle of barbiturates out of his pocket and dropped it down a convenient drain. He cared no longer about winning. He knew nothing waited him except defeat, whatever happened in the case. But he must turn and fight—the hounds must pay the price for their quarry.”


From the book, Hall of Mirrors by John Rowan Wilson. Doubleday and Co., 1966. pp. 232-3.

Original engraving by The Rev. Wm. B. Daniel [London], published between 1801 and 1813.

The field of narcissism and narcissistic abuse is such an overwhelming field for those who have just come to discover it—because of a reason or another—and are determined to understand it. I have been engrossed in finding out about it these past few days. Psychologists are saying that it is a major disease of society. Narcissism could be compared to a sucking vacuum, or a hopeless black hole, which lets nothing escape it up to the point of its boundary of influence. Persons who are within its influence will flounder around, willy-nilly, until they get to their senses (by the grace of God!) and re-claim their humanity by simply refusing to acknowledge the deadly force holding them back from freedom.

When I dug out the above excerpt from a book I read decades ago, I realized that the person in the monologue has feelings similar to those of who are in the willy-nilly situation, not understanding the mechanics of their victimization, yet still having that innate resistance from senseless annihilation. Or perhaps it is the narcissist who is having similar feelings, when s/he feels desperate after the loss of a fuel-source. The introspection of the character in the excerpt plainly feels desperation, and so a last bid at clutching on to what would constitute a healthy life: CHOICE.

Having My Sabbath

Leave me alone in this small space I own.

I am having my Sabbath.

Do not share my breath and my ears.

Do not touch my skin.

I have wrapped my arms around myself

and have settled for the ritual.

Do not steal my time.

You do not see the damage you inflict on my face.

You are carelessly cruel and greedy.

You envy the precious nothing that I have.

Why are you still killing the dead that I am?

There is nothing more I can give.

I only have my breathing, my heartbeat, my tempered will,

and all these precious loaned, limited. Precious.

Oh my God, make the circumstances merciful toward me.

(composed 3rd week of July 1997)

Scatterbrain

Brains melting on this sweltering afternoon.

Sniffing once, twice, fluid bits of binary operations

oozing from tips of fingers

tinkering with minute details of

impossible Computer 6 programs.

amalgams. anagrams. space jams.

To the beat of Michael Jordan,

whirring on the ceiling, on puerile fans.

one understands

that if I flunk this, man, I’ve gotta scram!

though it was fun blasting away

at 30 minutes a time, sautéing my brain

for a computer scan,

tying bits of ends of puzzles

too crazy to understand, comprehend,

apprehend, suspend,

the inevitability of it dawning on me,

man…

understand? —

had no other stand but to take it,

banking on my passing it;

so when the box is on, I am.

And when things flicker on the screen,

man… my brains scatter;

then I have to reach out with both hands,

fingers extended in a trance,

no chance

to capture that rapture

on my teacher’s stance

as he converses with the air molecules.

All askance.

(composed 19th March 1997)


I dug this out today, made me smile at my funny attempts at “poetry”, and it also coincided with what I have been doing these past 2 days: learning how to navigate an LMS, a learning management system, which is a platform used by schools to facilitate online learning. Whew. I passed the training with perfect scores! Nope, doesn’t mean I got it all perfected, ha-ha-ha, but that I was able to survive the pressure of producing outputs at the end of the sessions, so that I’d be given a certificate saying I’m not totally ignorant ot it! 😀

Some words I used, defined; copied from different sites (thanks!)

scatterbrain = a person who is forgetful, disorganized, or unable to concentrate or think clearly

askance = to look at or think about someone or something with doubt, disapproval, or no trust

amalgam = a mixture of different elements (not necessarily of the chemical kind)

anagram = an anagram is a word or phrase formed by rearranging the letters of a different word or phrase, typically using all the original letters exactly once. For example, the word anagram itself can be rearranged into nag a ram, also the word binary into brainy and the word adobe into abode.

puerile = childishly foolish; immature or trivial

This GIF-art is by “Segawa 37” or “Thirty-Seven Segawa”; [Segawa Atsuki].

Lessons from Taoism: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times

My mom has always advised me, “Let your mind, your thinking, flow like water.” Little did she know that she was advocating a Taoist priciple in order to cope with the heavier stresses in life. I thank Mr. Andrew for his very good post, which follows…

A Life of Virtue: Philosophy as a Way of Life

It was at a university book sale where I was first introduced to the ideas of Taoism. Hidden away deep in the philosophy section, I picked up what initially seemed like a strange esoteric book – the Tao Te Ching. It was a short text, under 100 pages, that was filled with often puzzling language and concepts which seemed contradictory at first.

As I dived deeper into the book exploring its key themes and lessons, I saw its potential to act as a roadmap for inner freedom and liberation. Moreover, I understood the possibility for Taoist ideas to be used as a remedy for the anxiety of our current age. A period in which we have come to measure success in terms of status, wealth and power. Mass pop culture has propagated homogeneity and conformity, resulting in everyone feeling the need to be the same. This has detached us from…

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