A cordial smile; a warm hello; a noticeably – better yet, justifiably – busy schedule; and a determined eye fixed on analyzing and acting on issues of peace and conflict in the Philippines (and beyond): Ms. Myla Leguro is someone I met on Nov. 28, 2012; and I believe she is an unsung hero.
I took a research trip to Mindanao, Philippines which represents the second longest internal conflict in the world (next to the Sudan). Muslims, Christians, and Lumads (indigenous people groups) have fought both politically and physically for their respective rights, resources, and room, often in conflict with and at the expense of the other/s. What Myla and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) are working for is the forging of a common public life through efforts of ‘binding, bonding, bridging’ within and among these communities in Mindanao.
During my trip, I had a chance to interview several Catholic Bishops as well as key Muslim leaders who are working for a just and enduring peace in ‘the land of promise’. Each person I interviewed had tremendous insight into the processes of building peace. One thing I particularly appreciated about Myla’s approach is that is incorporates both an understanding of the issues as well as a practical response to the problems at hand: that is, robust analysis in connection with real activism.
Far too often we as Christians fall prey to the fallacy of false dichotomies: either we focus on truth (doctrine, theology, orthodoxy – analysis) or major on grace (relationships, practice, feeding the poor – activism); what we must keep in mind is that as Christians we are called to follow our Savior who is ‘full of grace and truth’, and to live the ‘both-and’ life, embracing and employing the gospel in all its truth and grace.
The details of my research will be reserved to the archives of analysis somewhere in the Bodleian libraries of Oxford University; but, should God so will it, I pray that my analysis will lead to and prompt further activism for the sake of a lasting and just peace in the Philippines and beyond. To the glory of God: may we both ruminate on biblical doctrines and rear godly children; may we not only defend the truth and traditions which have been delivered to the saints but also deliver fine fiscal policies; may we analyze and argue about the great truths of the Gospel as well as apply its implications and principles to all sectors of society – so that all will know and love the God of the Gospel who is the greatest Peace and the ultimate Restorer of justice. And may we do so by following the examples of those who are around us such as the Myla Leguros of the world.
Church: let’s be Gospel-centered and Glory-driven analysts-activists of the Kingdom.