New Year, I received a text message from a comrade of old. I was pleasantly surprised by the message that went this way:
“When we look back and wonder how we ever made it through the year, we realize it’s not because we’ve been clever, but because our Master has been wise; not because we did our best to be consistent, but because our Master has been faithful. Happy New Year and a Happy feast of Mary, Mother of God.”
It was from somebody I would prefer to call Giya, her nom de guerre of old. I could not help texting her back asking where the DM-HM was in that message.
DM is dialectical materialism and HM historical materialism, two of the higher “subjects” we learned when we were students of struggle. No room for God in that “philosophy” but it taught us an alternate mode of viewing society.
Which reminds me of Carol, another old friend, who surprised me about her renewed belief in God when we last talked, which was a few years ago. It looks like when we got out of the movement a vacuum was created in our viewpoint that was filled by religion.
Giya and Carol were from an all-girls school run by nuns, and their active participation in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship surprised many of us. But then if priests are drawn into a movement guided by Marxist thought, why not students?
I was into the process of renewing my faith in God when the movement pulled me away. I remember my vow to go to church on Sundays, that time I taught catechism to kids and read the gospel in some masses at the Redemptorist Church.
Why I fell in love with the movement despite the surge in religiosity in my teenage years is perhaps because the difference between Catholicism and Marxism is God—or more specifically the former’s belief vs. the latter’s non-belief in Him.
But in many other aspects, both in theory and practice, the similarity is apparent. In the movement we were taught to serve, meaning love, the masses and practice that service. We were expected to be straight and decent. It was like we were trying to make saints out of cadres.
Of course, that is not possible. The sins committed by people in society are also being committed by people in the movement, though in a smaller scale. But for many of us who believe in the ideal, the attempt to become “saints” was worthwhile.
We are no longer Marxists, but we who have left the movement have not forgotten the “ideal.” We want to continue living the straight and decent life. And without Marxism as guide we are going back to the teachings that molded us in our childhood years.
Like Giya and Carol, I am now turning to God for guidance.
–Candido O. Wenceslao, 29 January 2008