The RH bill has been called divisive by its opponents over and over even as it is already about to become a law. And as if to cause further divide, another contentious issue is now being brought up by no less than House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, who revealed plans of enacting the divorce bill next congress.
Some say that the passage of the RH bill paves the way not only to divorce but also to same-sex union, abortion, and euthanasia, as depicted by Inquirer’s editorial cartoon, in that order, which also seems to be in increasing order of insult to the Roman Catholic Church.
But are these bills truly causing division in our nation? Or does it seem more likely that our beliefs and opinions are already as diverse as our religions and philosophies, and that these bills merely polarize the issues for us to look into and discuss?
To discuss is to exert an effort of checking one’s beliefs and biases and openly listening to what the other has to say, and then trying to see points where we can agree. Is that divisive behavior? Now compare that to those who stubbornly hold on to their dogmas and refuse to hear the other side’s story.
In a democracy, there will always be issues that seem to divide the nation. But if a country has to progress, its people will have to iron out these issues instead of ignoring them. Conflicts are healthy as long as both parties aim for resolution, instead of allowing disagreement to become an end in itself because one or both parties only want to prescribe their principles to the point of depriving the other person the right to be heard.
We are already divided by our beliefs, and silencing the dissenting opinions that might lead to new legislation will only build up pressure on the cracks. Yes, the passage of the RH bill will definitely give a morale boost to the advocates of divorce, marriage equality, abortion, and euthanasia. And it is no coincidence that all these issues share a common divisive denominator: whether to listen to the Church teachings or to reason and evidence. The Church will always try to impose its absolute dogmas in government affairs, and the secularists will always want to see the reign of an oppressive medieval empire come to an end, or at least restricted to the “spiritual” realm and to people’s private lives.
But disagreement does not necessarily have to result to division. To those who rely on reason and evidence, the government is expected to provide a secular venue for fair discussion. And for those who rely on dogma, they are always free to preach to their flock inside the walls of their churches. If both sides would only stay in their respective places, it becomes possible to transcend our differences, and we as a people can take one more step towards living in harmony by respecting the rights of those who don’t share our beliefs.
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Image credits: Philstar, Boy Santos