Consider the Philippines: a Mass E-Mail to a Stanford Faith Community


I’ve found my way onto the email lists of UCSF, Cal, and Stanford faith groups, in addition to UCSC. I received an E-Mail from my Stanford brother, Kassa. He writes:

Hello IV,

Look out your window this very moment (if you have a window in your lab or office) or look around you as you head to lunch, and notice that everything is ordinary. The air is a bit chili, the sun is shinning, the lawn is kept, buildings are where they’re supposed to be, people are going about their normal lives. This very moment, millions of people in the Philippines look around themselves, and they see utter destruction. Their lives are now solely focussed on getting the next meal and fighting to not succumb to exhaustion and despair. Their world has flipped, and they’re struggling to cope and make sense of it all. Let us please come along side them in all the ways we practically can. Here are a few things we can do:

1. Reserve judgement! Please, please, restrain yourselves from thinking this is the act of God to punish the Philippines for whatever evil that might have been committed there. It is unchristian and unbiblical to make such statements, and I guarantee you that if God has started paying nations for their sins, no nation on earth would be left unturned.

2. Do not turn a blind eye! Please do not skip the news article that talks about the destruction, or change the TV channel when it starts to talk about the Philippines.

3. Pray for God’s mercy and healing for the nation. Allow the Spirit to dictate your action.

4. Donate if you can.

Blessings to you all,

I’m surrounded by a community of intellectuals. The little bit I hear about the Philippines are from a few pinoy and politically minded friends on Facebook. I would say that my community has the ability to rationalize away the needs of others, but I presume (and hope) that our lack of response comes from being unsure how to respond.

I believe, in our lifetime we can, at least, find a way to become better connected to humankind. Of course, there is a technological revolution of being able to physically provide resources. Then there is a scholarly revolution of understanding approaches, evaluating outcomes, and educating the world. Finally, there is, what Kassa has demonstrated through his words, a revolution of our hearts– where our fear of mistakes and confusion on these matters shy in comparison to hope.

Like Kassa, we should continue writing. Stewarding our influence to use our lives in the most productive way that time allows. It’s not that we aim to become humanitarian celebrities of our time, but that we disregard both significance and insignificance. First, many revolutionaries simply did what Kassa is doing, verbalizing the impulses of his heart. Second, revolutions are more apparent in hindsight; therefore, it is most effective to reach out to connect with the most apparent ones at hand (if no other). Otherwise, the greatest regret of our generation will be the self-fulfilling lie that our lives didn’t matter.

In applying my studies of video games, I see a real life campaign, of which no one is left out. From the place of privilege, this is my story as much as it is Kassa’s story, as much as it is Stanford’s story and beyond. Hope for those in need is cultivated through a balance between caring for others and having a solution. We don’t know what these solutions look like quite yet, but if we did, there would be far fewer people unsure of how to respond.

In the meantime, let’s continuing envisioning how the world ought to be, thoughtfully providing artifacts through our words and action. Let’s tell the story of how we found hope. This will not be straightforward and will look different for each person, but at some point, if not already apparent, all our stories converge.


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