IMG_0570“Manhid” is one Tagalog word I learned when I first read illustrated classics written by the likes of Mars Ravelo, Pablo S. Gomez, and Mike Relon Makiling. It is the word you would hear when someone vies for your attention but your life’s dreams and acts are focused on something else.  “Manhid” means insensitive. You are “manhid” if you shut your ears to the cries of the poor and the needy, when you leave the scene of the crime, when you bump someone on the trail of life and don’t apologize.

The case is the same when the prosecutors suggest technicalities, when the judges turn a blind eye, and the guilty go scot-free. In which case criminal lawyering would be a lucrative option, since pockets are lined. The victims? They can only howl: “Mga manhid kayo! Wala kayong puso”  (You are all insensitive! You are heartless!).

This better of half of mine with whom I pledged “I do” (that was thirty-seven years ago!) in that private dwelling in Pasig which the late missionary Ray Bryan called home, with “Here Comes the Bride” being played to keep us in step and Felipe Cariaga pronouncing the conditions that tied us to each other for life, does not understand why I patronize that poor vendor who comes at my door with her little urchin in tow, imploring me to buy her delicacies– “they’re no good, they’re not up to standards,” my wife would say. I’d tell her I am just sensitive to the plight of the poor vendor; the profits that she makes will probably extend her business for another day, and will mean food for the family. Having been poor, I patronize the poor. As simple as that.

One is “manhid” if he observes the literalness of the law, like when he insists the church collection is only “for the saints,” invoking 1 Corinthians 16:1.  It does no good to quote Galatians 6:10, “As we have the opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to them of the household of faith”; the hobbyists go around it, too.

“Manhid” one is not when someone points out to him why he posted the writings of an “evil man” on his blog. “Evil” is the word the commentator used to describe the man, and says that that man also has left a trail of abusive relationships in the past. Well, the blog owner happens to believe that everyone who may have a penchant to do evil also has the capacity to do good. Since the blog owner is not insensitive, he does what makes his reader happy.

Sensitive to issues. Sensitive to cries. Sensitive to the environment. The hair that lines the skin is there for a reason: It jolts you back to your senses and makes you feel the coolness, or the coldness, of the surrounding, giving you the option to put in more firewood to the stove, or die of hypothermia. Sensitive to logic. The heart that the Bible talks about is not that hollow muscular organ that receives blood from the veins and propels it through the arteries; it is the brain where thoughts are conceived and filtered and logic is molded and where action is prodded by what’s best under the circumstances.

Be sensitive to calls for action. Calls from men sermonizing on the pulpits and from the Word raging in its urgency in the privacy of your bedroom, speaking to your heart to stop sinful actions. Calls for help for needy Christians. I believe we have wasted much time arguing on the methods, we have misspent precious hours logicalizing the madness of our hermeneutics, when true hermeneutics begins when one truly listens to what God in His Scripture says.

It matters much to the Lord that we act right, and with dispatch. That is the essence of human sensitivity.


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