Friday, December 23, 2005


Before he died at the age of 98, mathematician-logician-philosopher- humanist Bertrand Russell said, “If we must die, let us die sober, and not drunk with lies.”

To me, in my simplicity, as a great admirer of Jose Rizal, I believe he died sober; but those in power who had him executed at the age of 30, and those who concocted his retraction story, were the ones drunk with brazen lies.

I defy anyone who believes Jose Rizal, the first great humanist the Philippines has ever produced, died a coward engrossed in childish fairy tales.

And why do I say Rizal was a great humanist? What else do you call a man who was committed to the application of reason and science and to solving human problems of the here and the now?

What else do you call a man who deplored efforts to denigrate human intelligence, who did not seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and who did not look outside nature for salvation? A man who wanted to leave this world one day a better place than he found it.

What else do you call a man who valued scientific discoveries that have contributed to the betterment of human existence? Who was concerned with securing justice and fairness by eliminating discrimination and intolerance in society?

What else do you call a man who attempted to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, ethnicity and who worked for the spread of common human decency?

What else do you call a man who believed that developing his creative talents to the fullest constituted the greatest happiness in life for the here and the now?

What else do you call a man who believed in the cultivation of moral excellence, respected the rights of others, believe in human integrity, and was open to critical and rational way of thinking?

What else do you call man who was concerned with the moral education of children? Who wanted to nourish them with the passion for reason, love, and compassion?

What else do you call a man who rejected the theologies of despair, the ideologies of violence, and the sacraments of mediocrity?

And finally, what do you call a man who believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in place of dogma, truth instead of sacred lies, joy rather than guilt and sin, tolerance in place of fear, love instead of hate, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness, and reason rather than blind faith?

Jose Rizal, indeed, believed in the fullest realization of the best and noblest that anyone is capable of as a human being, He was the greatest of Filipino humanists. And he died intellectually sober, not drunk with religious lies.

To Jose Rizal, wherever you are, more than all the angels in heaven, I have the greatest love you as a fellow human being, and I have the highest respect for you as a fellow Filipino. Poch Suzara


Anonymous said...

I just visited Manila for work and took a day at fort Santiago. While in the Rizal area, where all his quotes are on those metal bars, I couldn't help but think that he was a secular humanist. So many wonderful quotes and questioning ideas. He was truly a man before his time. I was very impressed with him, and think you're right. He was the first Filipino humanist.

Anonymous said...

I just started reading extensively on Jose Rizal. I agree with your article and that Jose Rizal, considered to be one of our founding fathers and a national hero, advocated secular and humanist values. So im proud at his contribution in building a nation where reason, science and fairness is uphold.
--Allan Espinosa

Barbara Suzuki said...

I agree, but as I live in this credulous nation, straddled and beaten by so many superstitions, I despair that his message was only partially received.