I am a sinner: a Lenten reflection
By Eddie Baza Calvo
“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13.
I’m a sinner. I enter every conversation with the Lord with deep humility for the imperfect heart I cannot hide from Him.
Perhaps the greatest solace in life, the greatest faith and hope, is that despite my many imperfections, God judges me with nothing but love. It’s my belief that, in return, He’s commanded me to act in the same way toward others.
A couple weeks ago Travis Coffman interviewed me on Good Question. He asked me if I ever have any conflicts with the decisions I have to make and the beliefs I hold. I’d been thinking about that a lot. Over the course of my private sector life and my days as a senator, I think there was a going belief that I was on the far right of the social conservative spectrum. I guess people can make assumptions for things that may seem to add up. But for anyone who’s known me, you know that kind of ideology conflicts very deeply with my convictions in certain areas.
I told Travis that, in any decision I make, ideology plays no part. As a governor, I’m not beholden to any one political party. I’m a governor for all. It is my values that speak to my conscience and the decisions I make after examining it. So, no one was surprised by my commitment to fiscal responsibility, or my convictions about the integrity of the family unit, or my efforts to legally protect the unborn. But I think some were surprised when it became apparent that I have a social agenda.
I am a Chamorro and I am a Christian, a Catholic. Ingrained in my soul from the time I was a little boy is the deep belief that when someone is down, I’ve got a duty from God and our ancestors to pick him up. We are our brothers’ keeper. Nothing makes me better or any more important than the next person, no matter her station in life. No matter what he did or where she’s been. I am a sinner, too.
It’s very easy for me to reconcile any perceived ideology ascribed to me prejudiciously, with the decisions I make in life and in office: my values win. Tonight the Republican Party of Guam gets together for its annual dinner in honor of our party’s founder, President Abraham Lincoln. Abe Lincoln was a poor boy from Kentucky who had to study late at night under a candle so he could keep up with school. All throughout his life he displayed an extraordinary love for America that would carry the decisions he made in office. Perhaps the most telling of his qualities was his belief in people and their ability to succeed, no matter who they were: poor or rich, white or black, free man or slave.
Nearly a century after Lincoln, a poor Chamorro teen, with nothing more than a drive to succeed, was told he couldn’t join the U.S. military in the role he wanted. He would be made to serve in a job with fewer responsibilities than he envisioned. He said, “I don’t want that. I want to lead.” So, he went to college and went back to the Marine Corps with his degree to serve and to lead. Tonight we honor this story and the amazing achievements that happened afterward, when we dedicate the Lincoln Day Dinner to General Ben Blaz.
My social agenda is a recognition of our responsibility to one another, it is not a trap for dependency. It is about our society embracing Chamorro values of respetu, chenchule, inafa’ maolek, yan man’aguaiya. These are values we share with one and all — respect, reciprocity, peace and love among all who call Guam home. It is based on my belief that all can and should succeed, no matter where you came from, or what your background is, or what you did. I have no right to judge you. Neither does anyone else. My duty is to serve you.
At the entrance to Ellis Island, where the world’s freedom-seekers first entered the land of the free, is inscribed, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free; the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Open your arms, my fellow Guamanians, to each other and to one and all. And in this season of renewal and sacrifice, where we lose ourselves to traditions and honorariums, let us think of this first, His words, the real law. For when He was asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
We are the salt of the earth.