Running a marathon is a test of both physical and mental stamina. Compared to engaging in a sprint, participating in a marathon entails endurance and a concerted effort for that lengthy footrace run. It involves both patience and pace. The same can be said about one’s quest for justice.
For those who were victims of Martial Law for instance, waiting and working for that moment of rectitude and recompense is like running a long-distance race. Especially since it took a long time for the Philippine government to pass a law to allow for reparations for the wrong done against them. I can say the same thing for those left behind seeking justice against extrajudicial killings, supposedly committed under the Duterte administration. Whether justice can be attained, not only by way of an ICC investigation, the wrongdoers will have their judgment day yet possibly only after lengthy delays.
Whether the crime occurs with the complicity of policemen (Delfin Britanico in Iloilo, 2020) or as gruesome as in politically motivated killings (Roel Degamo in Negros, 2023, supposedly 99 percent solved), the families seeking justice should arm themselves with a marathon-like pacing and endurance. Soon after the commission of these crimes, the justice seekers are expectedly impatient, owing to the typical turtle pace of the wheels of justice in this country. Over time, they either become patiently strategic or run out of resources realizing that our overburdened justice system cannot just keep up with the pace of the complainants. Not even the creation of new courts by Congress or judicial reforms from the Supreme Court can change the slow pace of the resolution of these crimes. Meaningful changes take time, similar to runners who change their regimen to prepare for a marathon. It takes a good pace.
In all aspects in our lives, we need to embrace a good pace. When it comes to pacing, Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco is no stranger to this at all. Soon after he joined the Bureau under the leadership of then Commissioner Marcelino Libanan, Atty. Tansingco, fondly known as Tan5, ran a sprint in terms of instituting reforms in a graft-ridden agency. His pace, however, slowed down when Commissioner Libanan left the Bureau to join Congress in 2010. In 2014, Tan5 picked up the pace again as he and I decided to be part of the game-changing team. When I left in 2016, Tan5 eventually “rested” and resumed his private law practice, as part of his pacing. In 2022, his “rest” was disrupted as he was appointed as Immigration Commissioner, and conceivably, he resumed his usual pace of work—not only fast and furious but also firm and serious. After all, at the stage of his career, public service for Tan5 is no longer about personal glory but for country and legacy. The “in and out” episodes of Tan5 in the Bureau of Immigration made him appreciate the value of a good pace.
Through it all, a marathon and a sprint mirror for us this certainty that all people, myself included, are wired to control the pace in our lives—which pace is influenced by society. The element of control persists given that we were accorded the gift of free will. And most often, we struggle to reach that particular finish line and get burned out in the process. The lesson that can be learned from this is that for every mission in life, we are not always given a time stamp. And our skills or capacities alone will never get us hit the target. The point is, our mental orientation should be following God’s timing and methods. As one writer succinctly puts it, “If we don’t keep in step with His [God’s] purposes on a daily basis, we can get ahead of Him and quicken our pace according to our own understanding and desire. If we assume our level of expertise or spiritual gifts will be enough, we will quickly burn out if we are not following His grace.”
Looking back, I knew that my professional pace wasn’t aligned with His plan since I was not at peace. I achieved much yet the peace I needed seem unattainable. These days, the best pace is to follow Jesus’ cadence—“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29). Taking on Jesus’ yoke means we recognize that He is the master of our lives—equipping us towards the direction He tells us to go. As to whether I know I am following Jesus, I struggle physically but I feel comfort spiritually for the reward is far greater than the suffering. When we take on the yoke of Jesus, every part of our lives, the pace is centered on Him. The Pace of Grace encourages us to enjoy every step along the route, “stopping long enough to see where the Holy Spirit is leading us next.” The Pace of Grace is allowing our minds and hearts to be at rest, giving ourselves time to listen to God’s instructions instead of being in haste. Not that being in a hurry is a bad thing, but for as long as this hasty pace deters us from submitting to His grace, then we will never accomplish the purpose for which we have been created.
We are at His pace and His grace is within us when we receive His peace in everything we do. His pace is a tempo that all believers can use in every aspect of their lives, literally, as in the case of justice seekers and, professionally, as in the case of Commissioner Tan5. So let’s start pacing ourselves, trusting in God’s perfect timing and methods, and consider our assignment here on earth as a marathon and not a sprint.
A former infantry and intelligence officer in the Army, Siegfred Mison showcased his servant leadership philosophy in organizations such as the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Malcolm Law Offices, Infogix Inc., University of the East, Bureau of Immigration, and Philippine Airlines. He is a graduate of West Point in New York, Ateneo Law School, and University of Southern California. A corporate lawyer by profession, he is an inspirational teacher and a Spirit-filled writer with a mission.
For questions and comments, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.