And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within. Jesus said, “Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. If with all your hearts, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me.” If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race.
Chariots of Fire
A number of very well written obituaries have been published, to which I would like to add only two things. By chance or perhaps because it was part of the larger cycle of things, the EDSA revolution was the first of the “color” revolutions. Only three years after EDSA, the Berlin Wall fell. As much as anything else, both marked the end of the Cold War. The fall of Marcos was the first indication that, for a time at least, freedom no longer had to be subordinated to realpolitik, to the terrible calculus of East versus West. The second was that until Cory provided the rallying point for forces which until then were only potential, the conventional wisdom was that the eventual showdown with the dictator would be a violent affair. It was dreaded as only those who knew how dreadful it was could fear it. In its small way EDSA brought the same relief to the Children of the Night as those who were preparing to invade Japan must have felt when news came that the Emperor surrendered.
And the most incredible aspect of it was that at the center of this gift was not an atom bomb, but an ordinary woman. A woman who had until then remained almost invisible within her husband’s shadow; whose deepest beliefs would laughed to scorn in any fashionable salon. Yet she was the real thing. Fearless beyond measure, honest in the way that only a person who really believes in honesty can be. Cory had the power to awe not only the simple, but the cynical: the simple because she was like them, only greater; and the cynical because she was unlike them and yet still greater. There is at the location where the multitudes gathered in Manila to chase out Marcos an artistically inept statue of something called Our Lady of EDSA. It is a hideous representation of the Virgin Mary as she is believed to have come to a poor and desperate nation. It’s a terrible statue — all gray concrete and rain stains. But nobody minds its aesthetic defects because everyone who was there in 1986 saw the real Lady of EDSA in the flesh: a little woman, once beautiful in youth, in a dowdy yellow dress giving multitudes for a moment a glimpse into all that they could be. She could be their mirror because she was empty of normal ambition; and that is the way of miracles, when we see the extraordinariness of it all for the first time because we have learned to see. Goodbye Cory. And thank Ninoy for us.
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She had the gift of simplicity. Not a false display of poverty or commonness but the grace of being a wealthy woman without pretense. This plain introduction on our host’s part is all the more fitting for that reason. The policy differences I could undoubtedly find with her if I looked mean nothing.
Doleful news, that much distresses
She showed the power of yellow dresses
I had never thought of the “liberation” of the Philippines as one of the End of Cold War events until you mentioned it, but I see the connection now. Perhaps the lesson to be learned is that when a nation, when a way of life, a set of beliefs, stands up for itself and says “Our plan is we win, they lose” then all sorts of things become possible.
But there is another lesson to be learned there, too. After Cory Aquino became president she ordered the troops to go out and beat up the pro-Marcos demonstrators in the streets. Their commander refused, saying “We can’t do that.” She responded “Well, why not, you did it to us?” They both had a point.
The dilemma is that we cannot become what we detest to fight what we detest. Conservatives believe that you play the cards that you were dealt, you dance with who brung you. Bill Clinton could be a war protestor, then while campaigning profess to never see a weapons systems he did not like, cut the military after being elected and then deploy it to far more places then ever before in peacetime. The Cory Aqunios don’t get to do that – even when they should be able to, by all rights.
Also, in regard to the first paragraph – “If you commit yourself to
the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race” – one of
the greatest assets we have in this fight is faith. The left has
increasingly denigrated religion in general and Christianity in
particular for the past 150 years. We see the slights large and small
every day in popular culture. So tactically it is very important to
this fight that there are persons such as yourself in the public eye
who are seen to combine erudition, intellect, tolerance, and Christian
faith. Good stuff. We need all we can get.
Sharon Branagan Green
It was 1986. The small woman in the yellow dress and the placards with the words “Cory is my president” jumped off the pages of Time magazine and for the first time I, an ignorant 20-something babe as regards world affairs, found myself rooting for and praying for the Phillipine people whose election was stolen by the corrupt Ferdinand Marcos. Her quiet strength and the strong conviction of her followers brought about a peaceful revolution and inspired many around the world with the hope of democratic freedom. Adios, Cory.
Time like this always make me think of Isaiah 54: “The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.” May the angels smile on you Cory, you lived your life faithfully on earth.