Reactor Miss Rhodora Edullantes

4.Rhodora Edullantes

Reaction: Fifth Commitment on Pope Francis' Global Compact on Education

“The Margins”

I have a vivid memory of how I was taught to make margins and to respect these margins. In first grade, my teacher-adviser demonstrated to the class how to make margins on every piece of paper we use. In fourth grade, my art teacher made us carefully measure the margins we set on our art templates.

I would repeatedly commit errors in executing the steps but the good thing was, my teachers never gave up on us. After fourth grade, setting of margins without much effort and respecting these margins by not writing on them, had become part of my system. Thank God!

In modern technological times, margins are already preformatted and templates are already available in stores and online. Formatting margins have already become structured and instant. The beauty, the care, the patience, and the respect on "margins" are slowly vanishing. [1][2][3][4][5]

At this juncture, please allow me to translate the setting of margins and respecting these “margins” into some practical realities in our world today.

How are we, people of God, in the context of respecting boundaries, borders, spaces, time, privacy, confidentiality, or life itself - the life that exists in those marginal spaces? Does RESPECT come out naturally in us or what comes out naturally is the crossing and cutting of boundaries?

Pope Francis invites us in the fifth commitment to educate and be educated on two specific things, one, on the NEED for ACCEPTANCE; two, in PARTICULAR OPENNESS to the most vulnerable and marginalized.

May I invite you to think about these basic contexts:

First, who are the most vulnerable and marginalized? Do faces or names cross our minds? Do we visualize those “ten million children who were forced to leave school” and “those over 250 million school-age children excluded from all educational activities as a result of the economic crisis brought by the pandemic?”

Do we see our “elderly who suffer an increased physiological and psychological burden as they are vulnerable to loneliness and social exclusion?”

Who else do we see? How many more?

Second, where are they? Where are our most vulnerable and marginalized brothers and sisters? Are they all in the outskirts of the towns and cities -

those who live safer walking or running around barefoot than on slippers

- those who get stinky and dirty yet often remain healthy - those who don’t have much to eat yet don’t starve in days? Or… can we find them in our homes, in our neighborhood, in our school community, in our virtual classrooms?

We are all educated but Pope Francis still desires that we commit ourselves to educate and be educated. We know worldwide realities yet Pope Francis still sees the need for acceptance and particular openness to the most vulnerable and marginalized.

It is paradoxical that we tend to either look far when the answer is right in front of us or we tend to feel so close yet there is an immense distance of hearts. There must be a lot to learn, relearn, and even unlearn on our way of understanding and doing things. Pope Francis would have not called this

a NEED for ACCEPTANCE and PARTICULAR OPENNESS for nothing.

And third, are we moved and affected by the situations of the most vulnerable and marginalized? Do we feel for them? Do we know and understand their real struggles for us to be directed on how to respond to their needs? Do we respect them by treating them as equals especially as we face crises or we treat them as mere beneficiaries of our aid?

If you have been following the reflections of the "Hidden Pearls" found in the website of the Province, which in part is based on some snippets of the reflections of Antonio Grau in his book "Perlas Escondidas" you will find some reflection questions offered by Sr. Catherine Cheong to guide us in our reflection. Allow me to quote one of these questions found in Hidden Pearls 17 which has struck me. "A favorite expression of ours today is the 'new normal.' Where do we put the emphasis? On the new or the normal?"

I have to admit, the question appeared cute to me. It may not intend to attack or strike but it bites and hits. One priest said that we have to learn to see things in both hands. On the one hand, a challenging moment comes in, but on other hand, life learning comes out.[6]

Some people say that our world is getting smaller every day. At the lockdown and quarantine, many of us had become restless and anxious. We felt like everything had been taken away from us. We were so uncomfortable with the limited spaces we were allowed to move about. It was as if we would die if we were allowed to go out only at a specific schedule and to buy only the essentials.

But, could this point in our life be a simulation of life in the periphery? Could this be the best eye-opener because there may have been times that we made the small spaces in the margins even smaller than usual - that maybe we either neglected or invaded these small spaces that our most vulnerable and marginalized brothers and sisters are moving in with?

At this point, please allow me to share with you another question for reflection in Pearl No. 17, and I quote, “Could we allow ourselves to look at life through a new prism, thinking that things may never get back to the way they were, but there is always an invitation to live life more simply, more austerely, centered on who and what is truly essential – - and perhaps in the poverty of these times, we can truly carve out space for the Lord and ourselves, which is our true source

of wealth and stability?” Could we?

This speaks so much of our Social Apostolate as St. Candida Family - “ A central key that must penetrate all actions of our very life.” The apostolate that can only become truly   Social Apostolate when we accomplish them   with   J e s u s, poor   and   humble, from   the   sincere   desire of     f r a t e r n i t y with the conviction that the p o o r   is my brother or sister and   God wants to see his d i g n i t y   restored not out of pity.

We were released from the mandate and now it remains an invitation “Stay at Home.”, “Maintain physical distancing.”, “Wear mask and shield.”, “Disinfect or wash hands.” to stop the spread of the virus because taking care of ourselves, is taking care of the world, not just the community. Pope Francis considers it childish to expect everything from those that govern us. We can do this.

Going out to the outskirts and unto the foot of the mountains to search for the most vulnerable and marginalized is just, NOT the right move right now. Earning the highest level of education is not a top priority either.

Maybe, this is the kind of ACCEPTANCE and particular OPENNESS we all need. Let us go back to basics. Let us get back home - and stay home with Jesus so that we will see as Jesus sees, we will feel as Jesus feels. Let us create healthy boundaries. Let us respect “the margins”.