opinion

What does faith mean for you?

February 29, 2020

TRUST or reliance?  A pledged word? Loyalty? A system of religious doctrines believed in? I would say, faith is everything. And clearly: without faith, we are really nothing. Faith is belief; believe in us, beliefs in our works, talents and personalities. Belief in God. We also should believe in our parents or better, in the whole family including the black sheep, who can be found everywhere. We should also believe in our friends, even sometimes it seems to become a very difficult task. A friend? A real friend? An expatriate friend...? Without faith, we will be reaching the rock bottom. Please don't say, it's a likely story. The German poet Johann Christian Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1815) mentioned in his drama "Maria Stuart": "Even the word might be dead, but faith keeps it alive." Yes, I can live with this. Faith and hope belongs together. In his book "Through the Valley of the Kwai", Scottish officer Ernest Gordon wrote of his years as a prisoner of World War II. The 6'2'' man suffered from malaria, diphteria, typhoid, beriberi and jungle ulcers. Many circumstances quickly plunged his weight to less than 100 pounds. Lying in the dirt of the death house, he waited to die. But every day, a fellow prisoner came to wash his wounds and to encourage him to eat parts of his own rations. As this fellow prisoner nursed Ernest back to health, he talked with the agnostic Scotsman of his own strong faith in God and showed him that, even in the midst of suffering - there is hope - and faith! Faith is indeed tantamount to convincing and conviction. Richard Wagner, a German classical composer and poet found the following lyric: "Blessed are those people, who know how to life their life in humility and faith!" Well, let's even continue believing in our government. Faithful hope is loyal, reliable, exact and honorable. Faith looks beyond the transient life with hope for all eternity. The hope, we read about in the scriptures is not a wishy-washy optimism. First and second Chapter of Thessalonians, for example, give encouragements to all Christians, who have been undergoing persecution for their faith. And, Corinthians 13:2 says: "If I have faith it can move mountains!" +++ Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com.

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Before, behind, between, above, below love

February 17, 2020

OUR whole life consists of innumerable fabulous and non-existing parts. We all carry myths into our life and bring our share of unrealistic expectations taught and shaped by education, media, church, and culture and our friends or parents. And? We all experienced it in different situations: suddenly these dreams give way to unhappy nights and terrible realistic mornings. Marriage life, i.e., loses it glow and ardor. Which sets in? Sure: foil, frustration, disillusionment, misanthropy, and many times cynicism become main parts of life. Spouses  start thinking they may have made a big mistake and married the wrong partner. Some become fidgety and uncertain and - look for another, maybe "very special one", who might fulfill their faded hopes and uncertain dreams. Others rather than risk the temptation to look outside of he relationship for "fulfillment" , moving forward gradually deaden their hearts and deny the desire of something more. Bearing with patience becomes the goal of life. The dream of enjoyment fades into a faint glimmer of the past. "Finally I got someone at my side who will meet my needs!". How many times we have these outspoken thoughts in mind? Sorry to say, many Filipinas got these thoughts after having met a foreigner... . This myth comes out of a self-centered preoccupation with a terrible egoistic touch. But listen, didn't we forget, that marriage and every kind of dual partnership should be viewed as a "we-relation' and not as a "me-relation"? This myth explodes with the realization that a health partnership needs two understanding people, who are committed to be there for each other. There should NOT be two individuals seeking for self-fulfillment! This and that... . It's not easy to write a weekly column in a daily, while many people and important events pass my path. The "Common Myths About Marriage" has to be continued, although they are are heavenly belong to my daily life thoughts. Romantic feelings rely on a complicated concoction of chemicals and psychology. But as part of our series on Life’s Big Questions with The Conversation, we ask, can they wear off? Author Parashkev Nachev wrote this on Valentines' Day 2020:  I have recently fallen head over heels in love, but my cynical friends keep telling me that love is nothing but a cocktail of pheromones, dopamine and oxytocin, and that these wear off after a couple of years. The thought scares me, it makes the whole thing seem meaningless. Is love really just brain chemistry?  Before, behind, between, above, below love! It is no accident that arguably the most erotic line of English poetry is all prepositions. The essence of love, at least of passionately romantic love, is revealed in its very grammar. We “fall” in love, not “wander” into it. And, as you say, we fall “head over heels”, not dragging our feet – often at “first sight” rather than on careful inspection. We fall in love “madly, blind” to the other's vices, not in rational appraisal of their virtues. Romantic love is overwhelming, irresistible, ballistic. It is in control of us more than we are ever in control of it. In one sense a mystery, it is in another pure simplicity – its course, once engaged, predictable and inevitable, and its cultural expression more or less uniform across time and space. The impulse to think of it in terms of simple causes precedes science. Consider the arrow of Cupid, the potion of a sorcerer – love seems elemental. Yet love is not easily conquered by science. Let us look at why. Sex pheromones, chemicals designed to broadcast reproductive availability to others, are often quoted as key instruments of attraction. It is an appealing idea. But while pheromones play an important role in insect communication, there is very little evidence that they even exist in humans. Of course, even if we could identify such a substance, any message – chemical or otherwise – needs a recipient. So where is the letterbox of love in the brain? And how is the identity of the “chosen one” conveyed, given that no single molecule could possibly encode it? When romantic love is examined with imaging of the brain, the areas that “light up” overlap with those supporting reward-seeking and goal-oriented behavior. But that parts of our brains are set ablaze by one thing does not tell us much if they are just as excited by a very different, other thing. And the observed patterns of romantic love are not that different from those of maternal bonding, or even from the love of one's favorite football team. So we can only conclude that neuroscience is yet to explain this "head over heels" emotion in neural terms. Do we simply need more experiments? Yes, is usually the scientist's answer, but this assumes love is simple enough to be captured by a mechanistic description. Each reproductive decision can be neither simple nor uniform, for we cannot be allowed to be guided by any single characteristic, let alone the same one. Universally attractive though tallness might be, if biology allowed us to select on height alone we would all have gigantism by now. And if the decisions have to be complex, so must the neural apparatus that makes them possible. While this explains why romantic attraction must be complex, it doesn't explain why it can feel so instinctual and spontaneous – unlike the deliberative mode we reserve for our most important decisions. Wouldn't a cool, detached rationality be better? To see why it would not, consider what explicit reasoning is there in the first place. Evolving later than our instincts, we need rationality only to detach ourselves from the grounds for a decision so that others can record, understand and apply it independently of us. But there is no need for anyone else to understand the grounds for our love, indeed the last thing we want to do is provide others with a recipe to steal our object of desire. Equally, in ceding control to recorded cultural practice, evolution would place too much "trust" in a capacity – collective rationality – that is, in evolutionary terms, far too young. It is also a mistake to think of instinct as simple, and inferior to careful deliberation. That it is tacit makes it potentially more sophisticated than rational analysis, for it brings into play a wider array of factors than we could ever hold simultaneously in our conscious minds. The truth of this stares us in the face: think how much better we are at recognizing a face compared with describing it. Why should the recognition of love be any different? Ultimately, if the neural mechanisms of love were simple, you should be able to induce it with an injection, to extinguish it with a scalpel while leaving everything else intact. The cold, hard logic of evolutionary biology makes this impossible. Were love not complicated, we would never have evolved in the first place. That said, love – like all our thoughts, emotions and behaviors – rests on physical processes in the brain, a very complex interplay of them. But to say that love is "just" brain chemistry is like saying Romeo and Juliet is “just” words – it misses the point. Like art, love is more than the sum of its parts. If the honeymoon is over, and the dark clouds if our daily life erase the pink-tinted illusions, must one faces such as: Where is the scratch on the side of my car? Why must we discuss topics like money, sex, in-laws, friends and such things...?   +++   Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogpot.com.

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Offline is the new luxury

February 15, 2020

MORE than the Covid-19  scare, now in a global scale, we are in for a big trouble with our mobile phones— subconsciously, or otherwise. And to go offline is the new luxury these days of digital addiction. Indeed, time have  changed.   Gone are the days when bondings are most common among friends, or members of the family for that matter. And it comes with a price, even in popular celebrations  — like last friday’s valentine frenzy — where we are ‘silenced’ by our  mobile phones! Like it or not, mobile phones are now part of our lifestyles such that we have become immobile without these high tech gadgets.   The truth of the matter is,   we are now ‘addicted’ by our constant use of cell phones --  calling, texting, emailing , FB browsing, among other things.   And so these troubling  questions: Are mobile phones have become too much of a good thing? Are you in panic attack when you forget your phone? Mobile  phones have become man’s best friends nowadays, yet for all we know, we are now entrapped subconsciously by the many ‘good things’ our mobile phones have been providing us. Mobile phones  are one of the phenomenal inventions of man in this era of tech-driven society. It completely changed the way we interact these days. You can call, send text messages, read emails, play games as well as read and edit documents on the go. Almost everyone has a mobile phone. Everywhere you go, we see people sporting the latest mobile phone models. Mobile phones has become part and parcel of our lives. Leaving home without our phones is akin to leaving without brushing our teeth, or combing our hair. These days of quickies, everyone owns at least one, if not sophisticated, mobile phone.  In fact, even parents have allowed their school kids to own mobile phones because of easy and convenient access wherever they are,  anytime, anywhere.   So what are the repercussions of constantly using these devices, day in and day out? Today, socializing that involves real interaction is very rare to happen. We are reduced to interacting on social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, Instagram, or chat applications such as Viber and WhatsApp. While there is nothing expressly wrong with chatting with our friends on these platforms, it can be a problem if it is done at the expense of face to face interaction. In a family where every member has a mobile phone and uses it every time they are together,  this might cause breakdown of relationships, or worse, disorientation of values within the family. If convenience then is the mother of addiction, then we are in for a big trouble with these gadgets – mobile phones. (ruffy44_ph2000@yahoo.com)

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Wearing masks

February 15, 2020

THE present Virus illness keeps each one of us in a  panic mood. Very understandable while following innumerable news at the moment 24/7. But nowadays, wearing masks has another reason ... . Before Ash Wednesday, one can experience in my home country Germany people wearing masks of faces like animals, horrible human faces or the devil. Why all these masquerades? Actors and actresses on stage or in movies wear also masks. They pretend to be what they are not. They play a role. Hence, in Greek they are called "hypocrites". In our life, we always wear masks. Please think about.  You  and me will understand, that we do not want to show to people our real  selves because of the fear of rejection or displeasure of other people. In society, they call it public relation. Men and women would go out smiling and greeting politely other people with a set of purpose: to win them to their business or organization. But the more important point is: should we always wear masks in our daily life? Can we not put these masks aside and be our true selves? Should we be always afraid to show to people in our surroundings what we are before God, who sees everything? Maybe we could look back on what William Congreve (1670-1729) wrote in his "Preface to Dryden": 'No mask like open truth to cover lies as to go naked is the best disguise'. But let's remember, even Jesus Christ, the Son of God, wore the mask of being human. "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us!" Later, people thought he was a lawbreaker, an impostor, claiming to be God, a seducer of the people. "I have hidden my face from them and they did not recognize me!" Let's try to put our masks aside from time to time, especially, if we are together people we can trust. On the other side, today's global illnesses shows us different ways of how to move on. +++ Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com.

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Love, divorce and COVID-19

February 14, 2020

I HOPE this piece sees print or comes out online in time for Feb. 14.  Yes I know this column is anti-climactic considering that it is Valentine’s Day but reality does bite and not everyone is blessed with a healthy relationship or a loving spouse and family.   After numerous revisions and consolidation since the 14th, 15th, and 16th Congress, the country’s lawmakers in the current  Congress is about to start debating on the divorce bill.   If the divorce bill passes through the Lower House and is passed by the Senate, most likely it will be signed by President Rodrigo Duterte. And we all know how Mr. Duterte feels about the Catholic Church, his putdowns signifying his utter contempt that is sacrilegious to a lot of Catholic faithful.   Once the divorce bill becomes law, you don’t have to take my word that it would shake to the core the sanctity of marriage in the country and pave the way for more liberated legislation on otherwise traditional religious customs like same sex marriage.   But let’s focus on the present which is that the bill won’t be passed without a fight by conservative legislators who can be counted on by the Church to defend marriage as an institution.  Lawmakers like Rep. Rolando Uy of Cagayan de Oro City’s first district.                       ********************   First, I’ll share to you what I heard from a priest that officiated the Mass In a nearby church last Sunday.  In his homily, the priest whose name I didn’t get talked about marriage and how parishioners would comment that the clergy cannot sympathize with those with troubled marriages.   The priest told those in attendance that priests and nuns chose to sacrifice their chance of wedded bless in favor of commitment to service to the Lord and so understand and emphathize with what couples go through in their marriage.   As I said, Congressman Uy is against divorce not only because of personal religious beliefs but of his frequent sponsorship of mass weddings of couples who could not afford to pay for their own.   Aside from traditional Catholic weddings, Uy would also be asked to sponsor mass weddings of other denominations and these mass weddings are usually held every Valentine’s Day. Recipients would be assured of a lechon (roasted pig), wine and softdrinks to mark their special day.    Since mass weddings involve 100 couples, I would assume that a lot more are living together because of financial constraints or by choice. Aside from Uy, I’ll see if I can get the sentiments of other legislators in the city and Misamis Oriental on the issue and will keep you readers posted.                     ************************   On another issue, the novel coronavirus (nCoV) has a new name called COVID-19 or coronavirus 19 and the spate of deaths caused by the virus is now quite alarming enough to say the least in order to justify the purchase of those face masks which had run out in the city’s pharmacies.   I have yet to verify if the virus had mutated but the latest findings showed that the virus can survive warm or humid weather.  So far most of the deaths were of people who suffered a previous ailment and thus had their immune systems weakened and vulnerable to the COVID-19.   What does matter is that infection can be prevented through practice of self hygiene and minimizing contact with respiratory diseases or other ailments. And we don’t need those screaming social media posts that claim there were people who died from COVID-19 in Cagayan de Oro City without offering a shred of evidence.   Right now we should still look to the Department of Health (DOH) for health advisories on the COVID-19 as well as the City Health Office and the Provincial Health Office which had been working double time to keep people informed and calm  amid rumors being spread online by trolls who wash their hands off any responsibility with their tagline ‘keep safe and be cautious’ or words to that effect.   As I head back to the US in a matter of days, I wish all of us would be safe from this virus and help each other in keeping it that way regardless of our political, religious and personal beliefs and differences.  Also, I hope and pray that a vaccine and treatment be available soon before this virus worsens. (Email to susanap.Dennis @yahoo.com)    

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‘We are not perfect’

February 14, 2020

TODAY is a special day to all lovers out there.    Because  its Valentines Day, let me greet everyone with a flying  kiss and a virtual hug — in compliance  with the directive issued by health authorities.   No physical contact just yet  to ward off the  spread of coronavirus, reportedly now on a global scale.    Coronavirus is now called Covid-19 after the death toll had passed 1,000 and tens of thousands of people worldwide infected.   And to celebrate  Valentines Day these days of anxiety and fear,  the momentum may  not come out easy — and perfect as it were.     Be that as it may, life is full of flaws, of imperfections. And no one  is perfect at this juncture.   And talking about perfection, broadcast  giant  ABS-CBN —now at the crossroads to oblivion — has claimed it  performed   the highest level of integrity,  but  admitted it is   not a ‘perfect’ organization.   The beleaguered  TV network issued this  statement amid calls  of non-renewal of  its license to operate for  alleged franchise violations.     The Supreme Court, the highest court of the land is being asked  to revoke the existing franchise of ABS-CBN  and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence Inc., for allegedly violating the rules set by Congress.     Several bills seeking to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN for another 25 years remain pending before the House Committee on Legislative Franchises.    Its existing franchise will expire on March 30.    So there goes life, be it corporate or personal, nothing is perfect.     It never will be. We just have to make the very best of it, and open open our  hearts to what the world can offer us.    Sometimes  it's terrifying, and sometimes it's incredibly beautiful.    That said, life is a package of ups and downs. Happy Valentines! (ruffy44_ph2000@yahoo.com)

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