February 28, 2006

Tulang astig

This is a poem written by Marlon;  astig!  

Go to:  http://matangkuwago.blogspot.com/2006/02/proklamasyon-1017.html

Marlon Hacla
Walang magrereklamo,Walang magsasabing siya'y nagugutom,Walang magdadasal ng tipun-tiponO sisigaw nang sabay-sabayO gagawa ng anumang bagayNa makasisira sa reputasyonNg gobyernong kumalinga
Sa inyo nang tapatAt buong puso.
Ang katanggap-tanggapLamang na mga salita
Ay sabihing ika'y mamamayanNg isang matatag na republikaSa ilalimNg isang matatag na pangulo.
Ang susuway ay dadakpin,Aagawan ng ari-arian,Aalisan ng kalayaan,Tatatakan sa ulo ng marka ng teroristaAt ipauubaya
Sa kamay ng militar.

February 27, 2006

Your slip is showing

Psychologists call it a Freudian slip.  Senga and Lomibao kept referring to Proclamation No. 1017 as Proclamation 1071 and even 1081.  For those young enough to not have experienced martial law, the order placing the entire Philippines under martial law was Proclamation No. 1081.

New collar.  Old dog.

Show us EDSA

I’m attaching a link to a statement made by Mrs. Carmen “Nena” I. Diokno, the widow of the late former Senator Jose W. Diokno, Ka Pepe to most.  


February 26, 2006

Saying No!

Nothing on the news today;  and I mean, nothing.

That is Gloria Arroyo’s Philippines;  that is the Philippines of Lomibao, of Senga, of Mike Arroyo, of her lawyers—many of whom I count as friends (if you read this blog, you know who you are), of those who sit quietly waiting on the fence.

But because of Gloria Arroyo’s censorship of media, only “praise releases” are out on tv and radio.  I never thought I would miss being called by radio commentators to comment on anything under the sun but now I do because all that AM radio runs now (sadly, even DZBB and Channel 7, which I thought had enough courage to stand up to dictatorship;  et tu, Mike Enriquez?  Et tu, Jessica Soho?) is commentary by Miriam Santiago and Romulo Macalintal (the first is a political butterfly of the highest order and the second is a paid legal mercenary;  on the other hand, there is not much difference between the two) and all they do is clog up the free airwaves with pro-Gloria propaganda.  For those old enough to remember Martial Law, its exactly like those days (remember Rita Gaddi, remember Ronnie Nathanielsz;  except its now Cerge Remonde—someone tell him to get rid of that turtleneck sweater, quick, Jarius Bondoc and their ilk).

This is NOT MY Philippines.  This is not the country I love.  This is not the country that God has promised His people.

Not many of us may have noticed that in Proclamation 1017, Gloria Arroyo clearly stated why this “national emergency” has been declared:  to save her.  In the second preambular paragraph, it is clearly stated that “these conspirators have repeatedly tried to bring down the President.”  At least Marcos had the decency to lie about saving the country and all;  Gloria just says it out—this “national emergency” is nothing but a grand scheme to make sure she remains seated on her throne.  

So what is this all about?  One person.  In my mind, a chant from the 80s comes unbidden but not entirely unwelcome: Marcos, Hitler, Diktador, Tuta!  You fill in the blanks.

“Turn the other cheek” is not the appropriate response to tyranny.  “Why have you made my Father’s House a den of thieves?” might be a more appropriate response.

I love this country;  despite my foreign-sounding last name, it is the only country I know, it is the only culture I know, it is the only nationality I will ever claim.   If there is one legacy my parents have given me, it is to be able to think and think well, to love and to love passionately, to feel and to feel compassionately, to serve and to serve with everything I have.  

So forgive me if my words sound harsh and  I sound unloving, but, given these times, I will love in the only way I know how—with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, with all my strength.  And if that means, telling a dictator like Gloria Arroyo and her cronies—NO!—then that is how I shall love.  

February 25, 2006

Rage, rage against the dying of the light

In the 80's, the last line of a poem by Dylan Thomas captured the essence of struggle against a dictatorship:

"Do not go gently into the night,
rage, rage against the dying of the light."

It helped that student leaders like Lean Alejandro used to use this a lot.

In my comments section, a student going by the name "people powered" asked "Sir...what can students do??? Tried attending a rally, pero nakita ko lang na napalo yung kasama namin."

My answer, which I am reproducing in full,on this page:

"A LOT!!! Go join another rally, even if you get hit, truncheoned, water cannoned. Read, research, analyze, form an opinion, stand up for what is RIGHT and not
just what is POPULAR or SAFE.

In view of today's sad news about the death of freedom of the press with the closure of The Tribune, the words of Ditto Sarmiento, the late former Editor of the Collegian, translating and paraphrasing a jewish saying ring true: "kung hindi ikaw, sino? kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?" If not you, who else? If not
now, when else?

I don't read the Tribune--its a pro-Erap rag--but that is no longer the issue anymore. Other news organizations that I read will be next. And if they follow, without me raising my voice, then I will be as guilty as Gloria of killing freedom of the press. (An aside: my law firm even sued the Tribune for libel for a client; I regret this. I have asked for permission from my partners to withdraw as counsel for that client.)

As students, there is a lot you can do. You have the distinct advantage of having access to the very instrument that a dictator like Gloria Arroyo craves--knowledge of the law's legitimizing effect. Understanding the law and how it legitimizes
dictatorships like Gloria's is the most potent instrument a law student or even a non-law student has because it will help others understand just how powerful they are; instead of a resigned shrug of the shoulder and a hopeless sigh, use your privileged position as law student to help people oppressed by Gloria's emergency rule find their voices and find hope.

Sic Gloria transit mundi. Gloria too will pass.

But not without a fight and not without the help of everyone who has a conscience and a backbone and is willing to take a stand."

If EDSA taught us anything, it is that freedom does come with a cost. It is the cost of preserving that freedom. Each time we exercise a freedom, we should be reminded that others who have gone before us paid the cost for that freedom--martyrs like Lean Alejandro, Chino Roces, Hermon Lagman, Ditto Sarmiento, Eman Lacaba, Pepe Diokno, Tanny Tanada and many others who have allowed us to be free.

Now that freedom is threatened by one who will stop at nothing to ensure that she remains in power. What is the cost of the freedom we enjoy? If it is raising your voice to say, "no", then so be it. If it is raising your fist in defiance, so be it. If it is joining a rally to show that you stand for freedoms, so be it.

"Do not go gently into the night, rage, rage against the dying of the light."


February 24, 2006

You can't do that

Gloria Arroyo effectively declared martial law without calling it such under Proclamation No. 1017 today.

She just declared a “state of  emergency” (see Constitution, art. XII, sec. 17 which deals with national emergency that confers extraordinary economic powers on the Chief Executive), which does not entitle her to call out the armed forces (art. VII, sec. 18).  

Yet, I just heard her do exactly that—by leaving it to the military and police to take care of things.

As they say on Nickleodeon, “you can’t do that.”

"I read the news today, oh boy"

Woke up to news of arrests of military men supposedly involved in a coup attempt.  A few hours after, Gloria’s Chief of Staff Mike Defensor would announce that arrests of military men and civilians would be made;  he also announced that Gloria would make an announcement in a few minutes (30 minutes ago, as of this writing).  Many are speculating that Gloria will declare a state of rebellion, a state of emergency or even martial law.

Here’s what the Constitution provides on martial law:

     Article VII, sec. 18.  The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.  In case of invasion or rebellion.  In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period  not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law.  Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress.  The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of  at least a  majority of all its members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President.  Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.

     The Congress, if not in session, shall, within twenty-four hours following such proclamation or suspension, convene in accordance with its rules without need of a call.

     The Supreme Court may review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ or the extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon within thirty days from its filing.

     A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ.

     The suspension of the privilege of the writ shall apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in or directly connected with invasion.

     During the suspension of the privilege of the writ, any person thus arrested or detained shall be judicially charged within three days, otherwise he shall be released.

On the other hand, here’s what the Constitution provides on state of emergency:

     Article XII, sec. 17.  In times of national emergency, when the public interest so requires, the State may, during the emergency and under reasonable terms prescribed by it, temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately owned public utility or business affected with public interest.

     Article XII, sec. 18.  The State may, in the interest of national welfare or defense, establish and operate vital industries and, upon payment of just compensation, transfer to public ownership utilities and other private enterprises to be operated by the Government.

Given that the military has already announced that what supposedly transpired this morning was a coup attempt, it is highly unlikely that Gloria would declare only a state of emergency as the powers that would be conferred by such a declaration would be only economic in nature.  It becomes more probable that a state of rebellion or a proclamation of martial law would be declared.

February 23, 2006

20-20 vision?

6:  how old I was when Martial Law was declared.
20:* how old I was when EDSA happened.
20:  how long it has been from EDSA to today.
40: ** how old I am now.

If hindsight is 20-20 vision, its high time we really took a look back—a long look back at EDSA in the hope that we can appreciate what it really meant back then, in the hope that we may truly learn from its lessons.

But right now, I don’t see them.

  • Well, almost

  • Well, almost

About time

Gloria Arroyo now says that because of her Catholic upbringing, she is now saying that she is totally opposed to the death penalty and will certify as urgent any resolution that passes the Committee. The House Committee has passed the abolition bill so we will know soon enough if she willl put her pen where her mouth is and certifies the bill as urgent.

Allow me to look a gift horse in the mouth and say, "well, what took you so long?" Forgive me for not getting too excited. I won't believe it until I see the death penalty officially out of the statute books--hopefully forever.

Having re-discovered her Catholic upbringing, maybe Gloria Arroyo can bring herself to that part where she confesses her sins and does penance for them.

February 13, 2006

"A Love Story"

[Note: For those old enough to remember, the late Fr. James Donelan, S.J., the Chaplain of a colorum (his word) parish at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), would always have a special homily on Valentine’s Day during his 12:15 noontime mass. When I was still working in Makati, I would walk from Salcedo Village to Legaspi Village to make it in time for his 12:15 mass at AIM. Each year, his Valentine’s Day mass would be packed to the rafters and each year, those who went would not be disappointed. In 1998, the year he passed on to the Father, a collection of Fr. Jim’s homilies was published; it is entitled “God’s Crooked Lines: The Search for Truth.” I was delighted to see that it contains one of my all-time favorites ever from Fr. Jim’s vast collection. It is a homily he gave one pre-Valentine’s Day mass. I take the liberty of setting it out in full here.

It is a homily to be read quietly in quiet reflection but later to be read aloud in loving company; but it is, most of all, a homily to be read with loved ones and those whom we love in the company of He who loved us first, loves us most and loves us for all eternity.]

“A Love Story”
Fr. James F. Donelan, S.J.

If by some happy chance you should ever find yourself in the Italian city of Florence, take a little time out for a sentimental pilgrimage. Leave the Piazza Vecchio, cross over the Ponte Vecchio, where the goldsmith shops are. Go up the Via Maggiore towards the Pitti Palazzo where, just opposite the Palazzo and the Church of San Felice, stands the Casa Guidi. This is the shrine of our pilgrimage.

It is a proper pilgrimage to make as Valentine’s Day approaches. For here in this old ancestral house of the Guidi family was enacted one of the great love stories of all times.

I would like you to relive with me two touching scenes from that love story.

The first scene takes place on an early spring morning in the year 1849. Standing on the street below, we can see the large windows of the Casa Guidi open up, and a man, an Englishman, stands there looking across towards San Felice, but actually lost in thought. He is a writer, a poet, and he is thinking about what he will write that day. He doesn’t hear his wife come up behind him until he feels her hand push some papers into his pocket, and turning, he sees her fleeing from the room.

An hour later, he is still standing there by the window, his cheeks wet with tears. For what he read in his wife’s neat handwriting on the crumpled sheets of paper was the answer to a question, an answer which he kept to himself for twelve years. Until his wife died. Then he gave it to the world. We all know now both the question and the answer:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach . . .
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs. . .
. . . with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! –and if God choose,
I shall love thee better after death.

Elizabeth Barrett, the Englishman’s wife who wrote those lines, never dreamt she would ever say such things, feel such things. At 16, she had fallen from a horse. The injury developed into tuberculosis. It also gave a tyrannically possessive father the weapon with which to imprison her for 15 years in a room where no brightness, neither of smile nor of sunshine, ever came. To pass the time, she wrote poems. A kindly uncle published some of them.

One day she received a note which read, “I love your poetry with all my heart, and I love you too.” Signed, Robert Browning.

What followed is an astonishing example of the power of love. Elizabeth escaped from her father’s house, married Robert Browning and sailed to Italy, to Florence, to the Casa Guidi on Via Maggiore, which was to be her home until she died. That “incurable” invalid bore her husband a son, and so filled his heart with song that Robert Browning became one of England’s great poets. While she, transformed by his love, wrote a collection of sonnets which earned for her an immortal place among the world’s great poets of love. My young friends, what advice do you think Elizabeth Browning would have for you today?

I choose to ask Elizabeth rather than her husband because I have found, at least in my reading of literature, that while male poets like Sydney, Wyatt, Shakespeare, John Donne excel in expressing their love, it is the women who get to the heart of the matter. Perhaps because, as Jane Austen, an English novelist, wrote: Love is only a part of a man’s life. It is a woman’s whole life. And she went on to say that while men may love as long as there is hope, women love long after there is none. When Jeremy Irons, playing the English gentleman, asked the French lieutenant’s woman if she walked those bleak shores waiting for her lieutenant, she proved Jane Austen’s point. She had learned, she said, that the very brave can be very false. She knew he wouldn’t return, and yet she waited.

Elizabeth’s advice to all young lovers is contained in a sonnet in which, having already told her husband how she loved him, she now tells him how she wants to be loved. She asks him not to build his love on the shifting sands of change, not on looks or mind or personality or shared interest or on pity, for “love so wrought can be unwrought so.” She writes:

If thou must love me, let it be for naught
Except for love’s sake only. Do not say
“I love her for her smile—her looks—her way
of speaking gently—for a trick of thought
that falls in well with mine, and brought
a sense of pleasant ease on such a day.”—
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or, change for thee—and love so wrought
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity’s wipingmy tears dry—
A creature might forget to weep who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love’s sake that evermore
Thou mayest love on through love’s eternity.

For Elizabeth Browning, love was not an exchange. A deal. A barter. You give to me. I give to you. For her, true love was an outright, unconditional gift. It gives all and asks nothing.

The second and last scene in our love story takes place 12 years later in the same Casa Guidi. Again, it is early morning. Robert Browning is sitting fully dressed at Elizabeth’s bedside. They are alone. Elizabeth is sleeping, resting against his cheek. He has been there all night. She wakens and he asks how she feels. Later he wrote: Then came what my heart will keep until I see her again, the most perfect expression of her love for me within my whole knowledge of her. She answered his question with one word: “Beautiful.” And died.

Today, the Casa Guidi still stands there along the Via Maggiore, opposite the Pitti Palazzo. A small plaque near the door tells us that this is where Elizabeth and Robert Browning lived. But the anthologies and histories of English literature tell us more. In these pages, along with William Shakespeare and John Donne and John Keats, along with Byron and Shelley, we read the names of Robert and Elizabeth Browning, who loved each other with the breadth, smiles, and tears of all their life, and who now live on in love’s eternity.

February 09, 2006

Songs in the Key of the Spirit

Sometimes, the Spirit just moves you. . .

A week ago, during the regular music ministry Thursday practice, someone mentioned that we should sing at church.  One thing led to another and then I asked the brothers and sisters there—“you want to sing for Fr. Jboy’s Wednesday masses at U.P.?”  A chorus of “yes” and “why nots” followed.  

Before any concrete plans could be made, I had texted Fr. Jboy and informed him that”kami’y mangahas na kakanta sa misa nyo sa darating na miyerkoles, nawa’y huwag kaming ipagtabuyan.”  To which he replied, “syempre hindi, dahil wala talagang choir nun.”  And before anyone could say, “we’re a church choir”, we were one.

Fast forward to yesterday. .  .

I had circulated a text forward to musicmin to meet at 5 pm for practice before the mass; typically, no one texted back to confirm.  So, I must admit to feeling some anxiety because we hadn’t practiced, no one had confirmed—everything was so. . . Spirit-led and Spirit-moved.  So, before 6 pm yesterday, just after I finished class, I was texting Ella about it and even told her if no one comes, I might just tell Fr. Jboy next week na lang.

A mustard seed would be spacious enough to fit my faith. . .  when I got to the U.P. Chapel, I saw Alan on the  floor playing his guitar, Nick, Darleth, Gem, and was told that Ria and Jas were also around; a few minutes after, Len arrived.  Then, it struck me. . . this was it, we were really doing this!  

Talk about being led by the Spirit.  

These were not sisters and brothers who worked or lived nearby.  Len worked in Mandaluyong and for a company that was notorious for keeping its employees beyond office hours—yet she was there!  Gem was so new to Lingkod but she was there as well.  God is good because He enables those He calls.

Ella and Grace would later complete the cast which took to the risers.  Despite lack of practice, it was spirited singing and Spirit-led singing.  It brought me back to high school and it was a good—no, great---feeling.  

Fr. Jboy would meet us after the mass to thank us; but I thanked him for allowing us yet another venue—the most logical venue for most of us, actually—to serve Him and to bring Him glory.  

See you next Wednesday, brothers and sisters.

February 06, 2006

Bono Speaks

Thank you, Sheila, for providing me the link to this. I had read about his remarks but the link allowed me to read and savor exactly what he said. In case you haven’t noticed, Bono is way up there in my list of people I look up to—this may give you an idea why.


Thank you.

Mr. President, First Lady, King Abdullah, Other heads of State, Members of Congress, distinguished guests…
Please join me in praying that I don’t say something we’ll all regret. That was for the FCC.

If you’re wondering what I’m doing here, at a prayer breakfast, well, so am I. I’m certainly not here as a man of the cloth, unless that cloth is leather. It’s certainly not because I’m a rock star. Which leaves one possible explanation: I’m here because I’ve got a messianic complex.

Yes, it’s true. And for anyone who knows me, it’s hardly a revelation.

Well, I’m the first to admit that there’s something unnatural… something unseemly… about rock stars mounting the pulpit and preaching at presidents, and then disappearing to their villas in the South of France. Talk about a fish out of water. It was weird enough when Jesse Helms showed up at a U2 concert… but this is really weird, isn’t it?

You know, one of the things I love about this country is its separation of church and state. Although I have to say: in inviting me here, both church and state have been separated from something else completely: their mind. .

Mr. President, are you sure about this?

It’s very humbling and I will try to keep my homily brief. But be warned—I’m Irish.

I’d like to talk about the laws of man, here in this city where those laws are written. And I’d like to talk about higher laws. It would be great to assume that the one serves the other; that the laws of man serve these higher laws… but of course, they don’t always. And I presume that, in a sense, is why you’re here.

I presume the reason for this gathering is that all of us here—Muslims, Jews, Christians—all are searching our souls for how to better serve our family, our community, our nation, our God.

I know I am. Searching, I mean. And that, I suppose, is what led me here, too.

Yes, it’s odd, having a rock star here—but maybe it’s odder for me than for you. You see, I avoided religious people most of my life. Maybe it had something to do with having a father who was Protestant and a mother who was Catholic in a country where the line between the two was, quite literally, a battle line. Where the line between church and state was… well, a little blurry, and hard to see.

I remember how my mother would bring us to chapel on Sundays… and my father used to wait outside. One of the things that I picked up from my father and my mother was the sense that religion often gets in the way of God.

For me, at least, it got in the way. Seeing what religious people, in the name of God, did to my native land… and in this country, seeing God’s second-hand car salesmen on the cable TV channels, offering indulgences for cash… in fact, all over the world, seeing the self-righteousness roll down like a mighty stream from certain corners of the religious establishment…
I must confess, I changed the channel. I wanted my MTV.

Even though I was a believer.

Perhaps because I was a believer.

I was cynical… not about God, but about God’s politics. (There you are, Jim.)

Then, in 1997, a couple of eccentric, septuagenarian British Christians went and ruined my shtick—my reproachfulness. They did it by describing the Millennium, the year 2000, as a Jubilee year, as an opportunity to cancel the chronic debts of the world’s poorest people. They had the audacity to renew the Lord’s call—and were joined by Pope John Paul II, who, from an Irish half-Catholic’s point of view, may have had a more direct line to the Almighty.

‘Jubilee’—why ‘Jubilee’?

What was this year of Jubilee, this year of our Lords favor?

I’d always read the Scriptures, even the obscure stuff. There it was in Leviticus (25:35)…

‘If your brother becomes poor,’ the Scriptures say, ‘and cannot maintain himself… you shall maintain him… You shall not lend him your money at interest, not give him your food for profit.’

It is such an important idea, Jubilee, that Jesus begins his ministry with this. Jesus is a young man, he’s met with the rabbis, impressed everyone, people are talking. The elders say, he’s a clever guy, this Jesus, but he hasn’t done much… yet. He hasn’t spoken in public before…

When he does, is first words are from Isaiah: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,’ he says, ‘because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.’ And Jesus proclaims the year of the Lord’s favour, the year of Jubilee. (Luke 4:18)

What he was really talking about was an era of grace—and we’re still in it.

So fast-forward 2,000 years. That same thought, grace, was made incarnate—in a movement of all kinds of people. It wasn’t a bless-me club… it wasn’t a holy huddle. These religious guys were willing to get out in the streets, get their boots dirty, wave the placards, follow their convictions with actions… making it really hard for people like me to keep their distance. It was amazing. I almost started to like these church people.

But then my cynicism got another helping hand.

It was what Colin Powell, a five-star general, called the greatest W.M.D. of them all: a tiny little virus called A.I.D.S. And the religious community, in large part, missed it. The one’s that didn’t miss it could only see it as divine retribution for bad behaviour. Even on children… Even fastest growing group of HIV infections were married, faithful women.

Aha, there they go again! I thought to myself Judgmentalism is back!

But in truth, I was wrong again. The church was slow but the church got busy on this the leprosy of our age.

Love was on the move.

Mercy was on the move.

God was on the move.

Moving people of all kinds to work with others they had never met, never would have cared to meet… Conservative church groups hanging out with spokesmen for the gay community, all singing off the same hymn sheet on AIDS… Soccer moms and quarterbacks… hip-hop stars and country stars… This is what happens when God gets on the move: crazy stuff happens!

Popes were seen wearing sunglasses!

Jesse Helms was seen with a ghetto blaster!

Crazy stuff. Evidence of the spirit.

It was breathtaking. Literally. It stopped the world in its tracks.

When churches started demonstrating on debt, governments listened—and acted. When churches starting organising, petitioning, and even—that most unholy of acts today, God forbid, lobbying… on AIDS and global health, governments listened—and acted.

I’m here today in all humility to say: you changed minds; you changed policy; you changed the world.

Look, whatever thoughts you have about God, who He is or if He exists, most will agree that if there is a God, He has a special place for the poor. In fact, the poor are where God lives.

Check Judaism. Check Islam. Check pretty much anyone.

I mean, God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill… I hope so. He may well be with us as in all manner of controversial stuff… maybe, maybe not… But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor.

God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house… God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives… God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war… God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them. “If you remove the yolk from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom with become like midday and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places”

It’s not a coincidence that in the Scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times. It’s not an accident. That’s a lot of air time, 2,100 mentions. [You know, the only time Christ is judgmental is on the subject of the poor.] ‘As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.’ (Matthew 25:40). As I say, good news to the poor.

Here’s some good news for the President. After 9-11 we were told America would have no time for the World’s poor. America would be taken up with its own problems of safety. And it’s true these are dangerous times, but America has not drawn the blinds and double-locked the doors.

In fact, you have double aid to Africa. You have tripled funding for global health. Mr. President, your emergency plan for AIDS relief and support for the Global Fund—you and Congress—have put 700,000 people onto life-saving anti-retroviral drugs and provided 8 million bed nets to protect children from malaria.

Outstanding human achievements. Counterintuitive. Historic. Be very, very proud.

But here’s the bad news. From charity to justice, the good news is yet to come. There’s is much more to do. There’s a gigantic chasm between the scale of the emergency and the scale of the response.

And finally, it’s not about charity after all, is it? It’s about justice.

Let me repeat that: It’s not about charity, it’s about justice.

And that’s too bad.

Because you’re good at charity. Americans, like the Irish, are good at it. We like to give, and we give a lot, even those who can’t afford it.

But justice is a higher standard. Africa makes a fool of our idea of justice; it makes a farce of our idea of equality. It mocks our pieties, it doubts our concern, it questions our commitment.

6,500 Africans are still dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can buy at any drug store.

This is not about charity, this is about Justice and Equality.

Because there's no way we can look at what’s happening in Africa and, if we're honest, conclude that deep down, we really accept that Africans are equal to us. Anywhere else in the world, we wouldn’t accept it. Look at what happened in South East Asia with the Tsunami. 150, 000 lives lost to that misnomer of all misnomers, “mother nature”. In Africa, 150,000 lives are lost every month. A tsunami every month. And it’s a completely avoidable catastrophe.

It’s annoying but justice and equality are mates. Aren’t they? Justice always wants to hang out with equality. And equality is a real pain.

You know, think of those Jewish sheep-herders going to meet the Pharaoh, mud on their shoes, and the Pharaoh says, “Equal?” A preposterous idea: rich and poor are equal? And they say, “Yeah, ‘equal,’ that’s what it says here in this book. We’re all made in the image of God.” And eventually the Pharaoh says, “OK, I can accept that. I can accept the Jews—but not the blacks.”“Not the women. Not the gays. Not the Irish. No way, man.”

So on we go with our journey of equality.

On we go in the pursuit of justice.

We hear that call in the ONE Campaign, a growing movement of more than two million Americans… left and right together… united in the belief that where you live should no longer determine whether you live.

We hear that call even more powerfully today, as we mourn the loss of Coretta Scott King—mother of a movement for equality, one that changed the world but is only just getting started. These issues are as alive as they ever were; they just change shape and cross the seas.

Preventing the poorest of the poor from selling their products while we sing the virtues of the free market… that’s a justice issue. Holding children to ransom for the debts of their grandparents… That’s a justice issue. Withholding life-saving medicines out of deference to the Office of Patents… that’s a justice issue.

And while the law is what we say it is, God is not silent on the subject.

That’s why I say there’s the law of the land… and then there is a higher standard. There’s the law of the land, and we can hire experts to write them so they benefit us, so the laws say it’s OK to protect our agriculture but it’s not OK for African farmers to do the same, to earn a living?

As the laws of man are written, that’s what they say.

God will not accept that.

Mine won’t, at least. Will yours?


I close this morning on … very… thin… ice.

This is a dangerous idea I’ve put on the table: my God vs. your God, their God vs. our God… vs. no God. It is very easy, in these times, to see religion as a force for division rather than unity.

And this is a town—Washington—that knows something of division.

But the reason I am here, and the reason I keep coming back to Washington, is because this is a town that is proving it can come together on behalf of what the Scriptures call the least of these.

This is not a Republican idea. It is not a Democratic idea. It is not even, with all due respect, an American idea. Nor it is unique to any one faith.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.’ (Luke 6:30) Jesus says that.

‘Righteousness is this: that one should… give away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for the emancipation of the captives.’ The Koran says that. (2.177)

Thus sayeth the Lord: ‘Bring the homeless poor into the house, when you see the naked, cover him, then your light will break out like the dawn and your recovery will speedily spring fourth, then your Lord will be your rear guard.’ The jewish scripture says that. Isaiah 58 again.

That is a powerful incentive: ‘The Lord will watch your back.’ Sounds like a good deal to me, right now.

A number of years ago, I met a wise man who changed my life. In countless ways, large and small, I was always seeking the Lord’s blessing. I was saying, you know, I have a new song, look after it… I have a family, please look after them… I have this crazy idea…

And this wise man said: stop.

He said, stop asking God to bless what you’re doing.

Get involved in what God is doing—because it’s already blessed.

Well, God, as I said, is with the poor. That, I believe, is what God is doing.

And that is what He’s calling us to do.

I was amazed when I first got to this country and I learned how much some churchgoers tithe. Up to ten percent of the family budget. Well, how does that compare the federal budget, the budget for the entire American family? How much of that goes to the poorest people in the world? Less than one percent.

Mr. President, Congress, people of faith, people of America:

I want to suggest to you today that you see the flow of effective foreign assistance as tithing…. Which, to be truly meaningful, will mean an additional one percent of the federal budget tithed to the poor.

What is one percent?

One percent is not merely a number on a balance sheet.

One percent is the girl in Africa who gets to go to school, thanks to you. One percent is the AIDS patient who gets her medicine, thanks to you. One percent is the African entrepreneur who can start a small family business thanks to you. One percent is not redecorating presidential palaces or money flowing down a rat hole. This one percent is digging waterholes to provide clean water.

One percent is a new partnership with Africa, not paternalism towards Africa, where increased assistance flows toward improved governance and initiatives with proven track records and away from boondoggles and white elephants of every description.

America gives less than one percent now. Were asking for an extra one percent to change the world. to transform millions of
lives—but not just that and I say this to the military men now – to transform the way that they see us.

One percent is national security, enlightened economic self interest, and a better safer world rolled into one. Sounds to me that in this town of deals and compromises, one percent is the best bargain around.

These goals—clean water for all; school for every child; medicine for the afflicted, an end to extreme and senseless poverty—these are not just any goals; they are the Millennium Development goals, which this country supports. And they are more than that. They are the Beatitudes for a Globalised World.

Now, I’m very lucky. I don’t have to sit on any budget committees. And I certainly don’t have to sit where you do, Mr. President. I don’t have to make the tough choices.

But I can tell you this:

To give one percent more is right. It’s smart. And it’s blessed.

There is a continent—Africa—being consumed by flames.

I truly believe that when the history books are written, our age will be remembered for three things: the war on terror, the digital revolution, and what we did—or did not to—to put the fire out in Africa.

History, like God, is watching what we do.

Thank you. Thank you, America, and God bless you all.