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(The September to remember) In the name of Peace

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September 9, 2013 – the day of horror that came to pass last year has come and gone and we breathe a sigh of relief and we thank God and the Blessed Mother for listening to our supplications for safety and peace from those who would perpetrate violence and death to serve their evil ends.

A modest but significant and interesting contribution of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement was a booklet of ten (10) stories as told by siege victims themselves, each with its own personal touch and distinct flavor recounting the fear, the agony and the pain at seeing their loved ones die, their houses and belongings go up in flames and facing the hopelessness of an empty tomorrow.

The title of the booklet, The September to Remember, is intended to remind the Zamboangueño reader last year’s burning September, what happened, and why it should be remembered but not repeated.The booklet is not only intended to be a collected memoir but a means to make the reader realize the urgent need for dialogue, for understanding.  The need for of developing concern, love, mutual respect and compassion among peoples of different cultures and religions.

Out of the ten (10) stories, two (2) are stories of indirect victims, so – called because their participation in the fray came as a result of the war.  One ended up heading the daily feeding program of hundreds of evacuees in the Grandstand, and later in Cawa Cawa Boulevard, with chicken porridge from the kitchen of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement and had to go through the daily painful frustration of having just one more cup to give and yet see 15 to 20 more bowls waiting in line held by little hands trembling with hunger.

The other indirect victim had more painful decisions to make as the battle wounded were brought in for medical treatment because while the others were civilian victims caught in the crossfire, the other wounded were some of the rebels themselves.  The hospital medical staff knew there was no question about their moral obligation to give medical attention to the civilian and government troops – but, the rebels?  And so the lessons of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement came to the fore – the lessons on solidarity, on harmony, on compassion, on love of neighbor.

Ultimately, without a second thought, the rebels were also given medical assistance.

The stories of the eight (8) direct victims differ in their varied reactions to the attack, the different lessons they learned about violence and pain, and accepting the challenge to become a better member of the human race, to do their share in preventing another siege.

The back cover of the booklet asks two very important questions:  Why violence?  Why not peace?  Indeed, why not?  We are, after all, brothers and sisters in the one family of God.

The booklet is a very small contribution to the cause of peace.  But sometimes, the best things come in the smallest packages.




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