At first glance, Ms. Gina Lopez does not appear to be an artistic or creative worker. Generally shy, she shows no obvious flare for drama, except for her spontaneous singing spells. But no other media personality portrayed so much common sense, personal freedom, grace and boldness at the same time. She has passion and her manner of speaking betrays her impatience with the way many things are run in business and government. Many see it as dictatorial; perhaps, an impulse borne out of her high-breeding. But then, she even breaks the rules pertaining to her privileged status.
As a child, she could have been spoiled by the great wealth that her family possessed and eventually went through a struggle of resolving issues of so much poverty – a million-fold less than the riches they had – outside of that family. It must have been a personal crisis that turned her world inside out. And from a recent report, she admitted actually going through one similar to what Gautama Buddha might have had. At 18, she joined the Ananda Marga Movement and begged in the streets of Africa for the cause, until her family took her away and put her in a rehab center (not for drugs but, apparently, merely to contain her “aberrant” behavior). A sitting senator recently came out with the insinuation that Lopez was a drug user, to which she responded with the facts as stated above. Poor Gina, she was not running for an elective office and she got mud on her face! Aside from being finally rejected from becoming Secretary of DENR.
How many lawmakers or politicians were born into wealth? Let us assume over 50% of the lot, which is probably very conservative. But how many of those within this group gave up a life of privilege and riches in order to pursue a kind of work not devoted to the pursuit of economic, political or social advantages? Yes, there have been many who started out serving as workers in people-oriented or ideologically-based advocacies and eventually became involved in lawmaking and politics, such as student activists, military rebels and human-rights champions. But most were never part of some elite clans owning huge business interests like the Lopezes. Not that there is anything special about that; it takes a giant leap of faith to give up one’s high status in order to provide opportunities to those who are less fortunate. A beggar who becomes a king might retain compassion for the poor, which is natural. But a princess who becomes a beggar and is forced back to royalty and yet retains compassion for the poor — and even going to the extent of opposing other powerful and wealthy people in the process — is certainly unnatural. She is even betraying her family’s connections, in a way.
Not many knew about Gina Lopez until she was appointed by Pres. Duterte as Secretary of DENR. Many admire her passion and courage. Many also detest her means. But her fame shot up even higher when she was rejected by the Commission on appointment. Why? Because her previous action of closing more than 20 mining companies for violating rules against environmental protection met opposition in a committee accused of heavily favoring or even directly lobbying for the rich mining companies. And the people saw the injustice. The strong connection between several mining concerns with leaders in Congress is not a secret. It is both a truth and a fact. In fact, an investigation is being contemplated to look into the alleged use of “lobby money” from the mining industry to oppose Lopez’s appointment, as the president himself stated in a speech.
Appointed. Rejected. Vilified. And now given a chance at being vindicated. Her fame has not waned. In fact, almost every day, demonstrations are held to protest her rejection from the DENR post. Never was an appointee given this much support in the past, as far as we can remember. And neither did an appointee come out with such accusations and rebuttals against those who abused their mining permits, those who rejected her and those who (behind the scenes) worked diligently to remove her from the picture. And some Catholic priests are now suggesting that Lopez should run for a political seat because she has the sterling qualifications to make a strong and effective leader, even as a president.
Gina Lopez has a simple mission – to help the poor, support farmers and develop the environment for the benefit of all. Her defense of her own actions having been in keeping with the constitutional mandate to attain social justice (expressed during interviews after she was rejected), echoed tons of logic and common sense not often seen and heard even from the most experienced and brilliant legal luminaries. And that coming from a person who denies being a legal or a technical expert. Of course, lawmakers will always have an argument against her child-like plea for social equity and economic sobriety. Just as scientists will always have a technical explanation for opposing her decision to close mining operations.
But the best reason for saying that Lopez is on the right track while her critics are somehow caught in their own short-sighted perspectives is the fact that she sees into the future and does not salivate at the present advantages and opportunities that so many of our lawmakers and politicians seem to focus on. Why? Because lawmakers and politicians know they have a very limited tenure within the total perspective of human life and history, although they try to perpetuate themselves by establishing dynasties and business networks. They hardly deal with the soul or the spirit and the timeless significance of the human potential and even that of material resources that support the very existence of life. Hence, they seek to literally dig out the resources – both material and human – to fast-track the development of the physical environment through the manipulation of institutions that control the behavior of humans or the flow of resources. They want material progress at the expense of total human and genuine global development.
And that is why we have government offices dealing with labor, education, tourism, transportation, communications, highways, natural resources and other vital concerns. These seek to develop and regulate the use of material or palpable resources toward establishing a level of social and economic stability that provides equal opportunities for all. But in reality, only a small percentage — the wealthy – has effective control of the government and these offices. It is only under the new government that there has been a serious desire to correct the decades of inequity and imbalance in distributing the wealth and opportunities as stipulated by our laws and built into our systems. Corruption is the greatest negative force at work today.
Yes, it is only now that a certain amount of Creative Force that has slowly arisen from the uncharted depths within the human spirit – that area in human dimensions not so familiar to many lawmakers and politicians – has been highlighted in the management or development of our natural and God-given gifts. And that, specifically, is exemplified by one burning in the growing issue that revolves around Ms. Gina Lopez’s advocacy for the environment. She symbolizes a new kind of leader who may even make a good president or political leader, in case she is convinced to run and wins, but more so as one who can help galvanize our inner strengths and ancient wisdom in finally seeing why we are all here and what we are all supposed to do with ourselves and our gifts.
Such courageous creative work that she has begun knows no parallel in our recent history over such a wide scope, one reminiscent of the writings of Rizal which awakened our national anger against a colonizer. Perhaps, if we can harness this new energy somehow, we just might be able to completely do away with the kind of inefficient leadership that has kept us all in chains and captive to our colonial roots – culturally, socially, historically, politically and economically. But Lopez and the few like her are up against a formidable foe – a kind of vicious destructive force. Yes, there is the Force and the Dark Force. And there is Creative Force and Negative Force. Anything that does not create goodness, create unity, create peace, create love or create joy destroys. Anything that destroys takes away from the goodness already in this world.
Gold or silver is good. It has great value and it has inherent power to do good as well. But to get to it, people have to destroy a lot of things. The land where it is hidden. The water that flows on that land. The air upon that land. The lives of humans, animals and plants on that land. And, most of all, the functions that that land fulfills in relation to all the rest of the world. We cannot separate a mountain from a sea. Anything you take out of the land and throw away will flow into the rivers or rise up to the air. We cannot segregate a forest from the sky. If you cut down trees, the oxygen released by the trees will be gone, leaving the sky gasping along with all breathing creatures.
The mining company digs for gold – a task it believes as necessary. But what has it fed historically? The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. It is the love of money that spreads evil in this world. It leads people to rush headlong into building magnificent palaces or structures to the sky and buying instruments of wealth so they can buy more things to feed their lusts and their pride. The few super-rich families do this for their families, in the process feeding the frenzy to exploit the resources of the Earth. They have the means and the systems to pursue and fulfill their dreams. Meanwhile, the poor slave away in order to satisfy the schemes of the rich. It has always been that way; and it will always be that way. Unless we awaken to the truth.
Ms. Gina Lopez, as a young lady, was an aberration to her family. (Thanks to the senator for bringing out the truth inadvertently. Now the foot is in the mouth.) Today, she must be an aberration to her family still. (She says she will be bored being a senator or congresswoman.) More than that, she is an aberration to this present dispensation of lawmakers and politicians. (Aberrations, like Rizal or Bonifacio, are taken out of the way.) She may have taken an unpopular spiritual path; but her passion is not inconsistent with the eternal plan of God. In fact, she is even closer to the Kingdom of Heaven than many of those who claim to be servants of the Lord.
And you know what is really funny or pathetic? Hearing a priest suggest that Ms. Lopez should run for president. First of all, people who push others to lead are vindicating their own role in working along with others in a mass-movement type of co-leadership. Secondly, having a good and effective president alone will not solve our problems. (Ms. Lopez’s rejection will somehow cut away from Pres. Duterte’s own popularity and trust ratings.) Thirdly, looking up to a human leader abdicates our faith in God’s ability to address our problems. Lastly, we still have a new president and talking about having a new president to replace the one we have shows an unhealthy amount of impatience, if not distrust and discontentment.
Having one creative leader above us all will not be the answer. We have a God who already did that – did He not create all things and yet we keep destroying our world? Becoming creative in our own individual capacity is the only way. In contrast to using the negative force of this worldly dispensation ruled by greed and pride, using the Creative Force inherent in our being individuals made in the image of God will unleash the potentials that will build a nation of people possessing indestructible love, indestructible faith and indestructible life. If Ms. Lopez can sing “I believe I can fly”, we can also all soar and sing “We are more than conquerors for we have indestructible life!”
Anything that we aim and work for that is merely temporal and not eternal is not worth pursuing in this life.
How do we harness this Creative Force in specific terms?
If Ms. Gina Lopez is willing to continue her advocacy of helping and propelling the development of the environment and of providing livelihood opportunities for the masses, she could start a TV/Radio/Net program along the lines of a DENR Mass Movement: Developing the Environment and Natural Resources — A Mass Movement. With her serving as the guiding spirit and the moral voice of the movement, people will surely come falling in line to give their support. It would not be too hard to come up with a million initial members who will commit a hundred pesos each toward establishing a general fund that will generate such projects that Lopez has already successfully steered in the past. Along with other corporate and government sponsorships, this mass movement will grow to serve as an engine for developing sustainable and beneficial projects, as well as a watchdog against abusive entities and individuals who destroy the environment and the natural resources.
One does not need to be in government to be an effective agent for lasting change. The people, as a united front, can effectively harness that unstoppable Creative Force that can subvert the selfish interests of the few who wield the powers of government to pursue their destructive goals. The environment and our God-given natural resources feed and sustain our lives. The people, guided by the mandates of our Constitution — not by the arbitrary and dubious decisions of lawmakers and politicians or the Commission on Appointment, should not merely sit and wait before the state makes a move to develop our nation and its resources the way it should be done. We can have the Creative Force to begin the task with earnestness and passion.
Good work is a God-given duty of all, not a legal or political decision of a few. Those who can realize the difference should stand and do their share in accomplishing it in our own small and large ways. Just as many small streams carry water and soil from the top of the mountain down to the valley, a large flowing river can transport gallons and gallons of water and tons and tons of sediments to the ocean. Until the sea is filled up and the mountains are leveled – and all people, both the meek and the mighty, are equal in the eyes of God.
And that can only happen when God exalts the humble and humbles those who exalt themselves. No one and no one can stop that powerful Creative Force.
(Photo above: A composite photo using images taken from Google.com. Star Wars characters are intellectual properties of Mr. George Lucas.)