By REV. LUNA L. DINGAYAN
“But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received.” — Isaiah 53:5
The Mendez case
Cris Mendez is the latest among the countless victims of brutal and senseless deaths by fraternity hazing in colleges and universities in our country. The Mendez case has opened our eyes once again to the evils of fraternity.
Fraternity per se is not evil, but it becomes demonic if it would cause the loss of precious lives. Neophytes are saying that they are persuaded to join the fraternity due to the rewards of political or economic security they could get. They say that hurting the neophytes through hazing is a way of strengthening the bond of brotherhood. Unless you are ready to be hurt, you don’t take the fraternity seriously, they say.
But then, is hurting your own brother even to the point of death the best way to inculcate upon his mind and heart the ideals of brotherhood? Are you not implanting upon his heart instead the spirit of revenge – that when the time comes he would also do the same things that he underwent or even worse to the neophytes? Evil begets evil. Thus, you would have a cycle of violence which is quite difficult to stop.
Painting from Hong Kong
As a reaction to the Mendez case, Joe Ferraris, a Hong Kong-based muralist and a former UP student, did a powerful painting entitled, “The Wrong Sacrifice”. This was hand-carried to Manila by activist priest, Fr. Robert Reyes, to be turned over to Dean Alex Brillantes of the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance in which Cris was a graduating student.
The painting depicts a suffering young man who appears to be carrying a piece of wood shaped like a paddle on his shoulder. Set against a backdrop of blue and red, the subject’s head is crowned with laurels but is struck with a jagged sword.
Joe Ferraris did the painting to get across the message that undergoing physical pain just to join a fraternity is a wrong sacrifice. He wants to show that the supposed rewards one gets from joining a fraternity, such as security, are mere illusions. For Ferraris, there is only one brotherhood and that is the brotherhood under the Fatherhood of God; all other brotherhoods are divisive. His call is for us not allow the culture of violence to thrive.
The Suffering Servant Song
In the Book of Prophet Isaiah, we read the Suffering Servant Song (Is.53). Part of this song says, “But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received” (Is. 53:5).
With this song, two things come to mind. First of all, how we wish that fraternities should review their orientation in the light of the Suffering Servant Song. Instead of inflicting hurt on their brothers to strengthen brotherhood, they should inflict hurt on themselves by serving others till it hurts to strengthen human-hood. Hurting others to strengthen brotherhood would make that brotherhood selfish and self-serving. Hurting oneself by serving others to strengthen human-hood would make brotherhood more selfless and humane. This is the true brotherhood and sisterhood under the Fatherhood of God.
Moreover, in the light of the Suffering Servant Song, we could also say that we have a part in the collective sin of omission that led to Cris’ death and all the other victims of hazing in our country through all the years. By putting a stop to this demonic practice and putting before the bar of justice those who are responsible to these senseless deaths, then perhaps we could honestly sing that part of the Suffering Servant Song: “We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received.” #