Bayanihan Through A Better Quarantine
By: JEREMIAH BELGICA
On the midnight of March 15 the entire of Metro Manila was placed under Community Quarantine (Partial Lock-Down) which effectively demobilized many of our movements in order to control the spread of the deadly virus. Land, air, and domestic sea travels from Metro Manila was suspended with exceptions while mass transportation were to comply with the social distancing guidelines.
It did not take long for the President to decide to intensify the safety mechanism when he decided to place the entire Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine" (Total Lock down) that aims to further combat the effect of the continuing and increasing spread of COVID-19.
Even though there is no more higher level of quarantine classification, I believe that there still remains for us a “BETTER QUARANTINE” option.
I called it an an option because it is a personal matter that may or may not be availed by those under lockdown. However, your choice would determine the quality of your experience during this quarantine period, whether productive or unproductive.
A quick look onto our facebook accounts would already give away the amount of toxicity raring to infiltrate our minds and personal systems. From old friends becoming “un-friends” (a street word which pertains to changing your friendship status in FB as regards to a particular person) to old foes creating a greater chasm between them, indeed the pressure to take a definite side could sometimes seem to be imperative. Political junkies are now on a hour shift waiting for the next best opportunity to destroy the opposing side, and somehow convert and proselyte others to join their clique.
And yet, there are those persons who, though not politically inclined, are susceptible and vulnerable to agitation and unrest because of the current difficulties in our situation.
Sickness and hunger has gripped the daily news and seemed to have blinded with gloom whatever herculean efforts that the government might be doing to address the situation.
Thus, a quick glance onto our social media accounts could possibly be lethal to the soul and damning to our spirits.
So much so that I consciously make an effort to guard my soul (my heart and mind) from the negativity and hatred lurking at every space of our cyber society.
As this deadly CoVid-19 threatens to destroy our bodies, so does the hatred and negativity threatens to destroy our souls. To the point that if we are not careful with our souls, we will continue to be infected by hate even after every patient have already recovered from the CoVid-19 virus. The virus of negativity and hate could even be more resistant from any medicine and more contagious than the CoVid-19 virus as its transmission is not by droplets but by hateful ideas communicated by words that infect our minds thru the air-waives, cell networks and social media.
Therefore, there is a need for us to add on this Enhanced Community Quarantine; an enhancement that is not for the government to decide but for us individually. It is a choice to whether continue to allow our minds and hearts to be gripped by hate and negativity towards our fellow suffering Filipinos or to lockdown our minds and hearts away from those thoughts and towards compassion and a mindset of a “bayanihan”.
That might have sounded a bit of a cliche but in all honesty this is the only way for us to survive and come out stronger in this process together. Because unless we deliberately and consciously try to catch ourselves hating on our kababayan because of politics or otherwise, and decide at that moment to choose the bayanihan spirit over hate, we will never be strong enough to live up to our potential and be the mighty people that we should have always been.
A better quarantine is a quarantine of the body and a quarantine of the soul, that is what we need. Staying clear away from the virulent Covid-19 and the lurking mindset of hate. The “Bayanihan” spirit may only be cultivated in the pretext of a genuine compassion towards one-another and conversely may be choked to death by hatred and politicking.
In other words, if we want to survive and achieve together then we have to stop the hate!
The Bible exhorts us in Proverbs 4:23 to “guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
To guard one’s heart requires some serious self-testing and self-diagnosis. First we need to consciously introspect and examine regularly what are the preoccupations of your mind as well as your motives. Then we need to ask ourselves “will the thought be able to bring me to my intended purpose?” or a better question might be weather “ the thought or feeling is what God wants for me to dwell on.”
Look at the words “to dwell on”, it is a hyperbolic phrase that connotes living in and stay safely and securely. In another sense of the word which could be more timely, the question is where do we choose to “locked down” our hearts and minds.
Just like our current ECQ situation, the locking down of yourself within a certain house or dwelling is only desirable when you are confined in a zero Covid-19 place. The choice of companion and “lock-down mates” are critical for you to either ensure that you are COVID free. Otherwise, a wrong choice of lockdown companion would be a sure way for you to be COVID-19 infected.
In the same way, the choice of thoughts and feelings at this time is important in order for us to maintain a heart and mind that are free from the virus of hate and negativity. We should choose to lockdown our minds with the right thoughts and perspective and we should choose to lockdown our hearts with the right feelings. A wrong choice of “heart and mind” companion will certainly infect not only us but everyone within our sphere of influence.
As for me, I will choose to quarantine my heart and mind from hate and negativity as I am quarantining my body from COVID-19.
To help us overcome negativity and hate, two wonderful scripture verses come to mind. These are Psalms 91:1 and Philippians 4:3.
Psalms 91:1 is explicitly guides on where we should be dwelling, it says that, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
The secret place place here is the intimacy with God that are reserved for those who have known him and continues to know God through Christ. Only through Jesus Christ (his blood) can we enter into the Holy of Holies and enjoy permanent companionship with our creator as our Father. It is there we experience the fullness of His love and enjoy His comfort brought by the “indwelling” presence of His Holy Spirit. The life and relationship we receive in Christ Jesus is a life that is eternal; thus it is enduring and not seasonal. It is here to stay and we should consciously “abide” and remember to “dwell” in it.
While Phil 4:8 says,
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.”
The list given here is power packed. If we learn to constantly remind ourselves, that regardless of any situation, to only think of things which are: noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, it would certainly change our lives for the better. It would even change how we feel daily since our frame of minds dictates the flow of emotions that are stored in our hearts.
This does not mean that we no longer consider realities of the struggles of life or that we have chosen to live in a bubble of made up positive fantasy. But on the contrary, it means that we are waking up from the nightmare of negativity into a greater reality that there is a sovereign God who is both in total control of our lives and who is at the same time totally good. Starting from those primal convictions, we can then proceed to view all our gigantic cares and then vigorously deal with them with an overcoming attitude and a positive mindset.
In summary we have to remember that we need each other to overcome this national challenge. The ECQ is not enough because we also need to quarantine our soul, mind and heart from hate and toxic attitudes towards one another. The Bayanihan spirit maybe cultivated through the better quarantine of body and soul.
We need to remember that we can refuse to be victims of our negative thoughts and toxic emotions. The choice is ours to make on which pill to take — the negative or the positive.
At this time, my desire is for all to be both negative and positive. Negative from the Covid-19 virus but positive in heart and mind.
Happy Better Quarantine Everyone!