by: J. Pampio A. Abarintos
I am foremost a jurist and writing is the primary means for me to
convey my dissections, analyses, interpretations, and applications of
the law to the myriad of cases of which I am responsible for.
Therefore, I write — reams and reams of written and
I have to write about the concept of “giving and receiving”,
I find doing so rather difficult. Although “giving and
receiving” is such an ordinary, everyday, everywhere
phenomenon, there are no past decrees, no past decisions, no
Philippine laws on this matter. It stumps me for I have to go back
to what we were before we became jurists.
A lot of psychologists believe that “giving and receiving”
is innate to children. We, ourselves, have delightfully witnessed
incidents wherein children, ours or of others, willingly gave to
those who have less. We vocally encourage this instinct, and yet,
some kind of trepidation always subdues this excitement within us.
We fear. We fear that kind children will be taken advantage of. We
fear that kind persons will not receive anything in return. We fear
that the money we gave will just go to gambling or to the syndicates.
We fear that if we give to one, the rest will home in to our cars
and demand the same amount. We fear that if we give to this
foundation, the managers will just use our funds for their personal
benefits. We fear to get involved. We fear that our generosity will
be misconstrued as propaganda.
And so we imbibe our grown-ups’ fears and grow up fearful of
generosity. And, even, suspicious of generous people. Yet, that
which is innate, ultimately surfaces and demands satisfaction. So,
we give according to our fears. We give in church. We give to the
solitary beggar. We give our leftovers to that filthy child. We
give to “safe” foundations. We give to be written on the
souvenir program. We give to receive something in return.
“Who is my neighbor?”
the millennia, there have been no shortage of generous people who
have shown us how it was to give one’s all without expecting
anything in return. The greatest of them all did not write a single
word about himself and yet his life has generated the most books, the
most stories, the most art works, the most films. He explained
charity in the simplest of terms with the profoundest of meanings.
He said, “Love thy neighbor.” Then to ensure that there
will be no misunderstanding whatsoever to what he meant, the story
went on to the lawyer who asked, “Teacher, who is my neighbor?”
And He answered with the parable of the Good Samaritan.
the Jewish priest and Levite heartless fiends who think nothing of
stepping over a dying person? They were probably just fearful.
Fearful that the robbers might come back, fearful that the victim
was just faking and will take advantage of them, or simply fearful
that they may be late for their priestly and juridical duties.
Fearful to get involved.
a Samaritan passed by and despite the fact that the victim is a Jew,
he took mercy on him.
And Jesus sufficiently answered the question of the lawyer.
“The one who had mercy on him.”
It does not need an expert of the law to get Jesus’ message. But
it was an expert of the law who had the knowledge, skills and the
guts to engage Jesus in a discussion of such a sensitive nature. In
his attempt to test Jesus, he was the one who ended up tested. Just
as we all are tested time and again with the neighbors; we meet in
our homes, in the streets, in our offices, and in our courts. Do we
let our fear get in the way of giving?
Do not fear.
Samaritan was probably well-to-do. He probably thought about the
repercussions of what he did: the Jews will suspect him of beating
up their fellow Jew or his fellow Samaritans will condemn him for
aiding and abetting the enemy. Either way, it was a dangerous
position. But he did not fear.
True, our fears may be founded, rational, and based on experience. But we
know that if we live life based on our fears then we are not living
at all. There are rational reasons for not driving, for not going
out, for not playing sports, for not loving another, for not having
children. And yet we do these things all the time regardless of our
“Go and do likewise.”
give is not to fear. We can start small to overcome our phobia.
Give to the househelp, give to the workers, give to the child on the
street, give to foundations and institutions who help the needy.
here, we just give of our extras.
are jurists. We are experts in the law. We must go beyond that of
giving our extras and give what our neighbors deserve from us as
experts in the law. We give of our eyes when we look at the
injustices the victims are burdened with. We give of our ears when
we listen to the cries of those whom others refuse to hear. We give
of our voices when we speak out for those who have none. We give of
our hands when we write to correct the root causes of these unjust
conditions. And we give of our lives when we stand up for the truth
against the lies that attack it.