Beyond symbolism

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

IT WAS meant to symbolize the desire of humankind for world peace, but the two white doves released by the children in the presence of Pope Francis from an open window of the Apostolic Palace in Vatican were attacked by angry birds--a crow and a gull.

A news report said:

“As tens of thousands of people watched in St Peter's Square, a seagull and a large black crow swept down on the doves right after they were set free from an open window of the Apostolic Palace. One dove lost some feathers as it broke free from the gull.


But the crow pecked repeatedly at the other dove. It was not clear what happened to the doves as they flew off.”

For a moment, the “angry birds” incident seemed to steal the attention from the Pope who not only was chosen as Person of the Year by Time Magazine, but also made it to the cover of the Rolling Stone, a magazine that primarily has popular musicians and controversial figures as main features.

I heard one commentator sayi hat if the pontiff is God’s representative on earth, he could have prevented it, while an animal rights group called for a stoppage of the releasing of doves in the light of the incidents.

Its petition read: "Domesticated doves are easy targets for other birds due to their white color and inability to recognize predators and flee. The Pope's intentions in releasing the doves were innocent, but after witnessing the gruesome aftermath he needs to end the practice."

But we ought to put meaning to what had happened. The doves represented the peacemakers while the birds of prey symbolized the elements that continue to spread hatred, violence and war.

Year in, year out, peoples in different parts of the world engage in acts that result in destruction and deaths. In Thailand, protests continue. In Ukraine, the opposition are resolved to oust its leader. In Syria, armed conflicts remain though peace talks are ongoing. Trouble persists between Israel and its neighbors--in Afghanistan, Egypt and the Central African Republic, among others. There is tension among East Asian neighbors.

The United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and other alliances of nations work hard to bring parties to the table to settle their differences. But in most instances, the causes of the conflict are deeply rooted that the process can take years, if not decades.

And who suffers? Primarily it is the civilians. The warring armies are well-fed and well-funded by their supporters and financiers, the latter having vested interests in the outcome.

But in the end, the persistence of the peacemakers does pay off. In the Philippines, we are witnessing the near resolution of the conflict between the MILF and Philippine Government.

For so many times, the doves of peace get clobbered by the angry birds of prey; yet others continue the work. They work beyond symbolism. They sacrifice, even their very lives, to save the innocent from the savagery and barbarism of fellow human beings.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 01, 2014.


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