By Herbert Vego

Agreeing to disagree

WAY back when I was a child in the 1950s, religious “debates” at our plaza were in vogue – usually between ministers of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) and those of other Christian sects. I still remember that one pitting an INC minister against a layman of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) or Aglipayan Church. Their exchanges of views, the audience feared, could end in a fist fight.

To our relief, they did not harm each other.  In fact, they agreed that their founders – Felix Manalo of the INC and Gregorio Aglipay of IFFI – had done right in abandoning Roman Catholicism.

In a past column on religious diversity, I cited a home debate between my late father and one of his friends over Jesus Christ.  My dad, a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, disputed his friend’s argument that Jesus, though “the son of God,” was not God.

“That’s like saying that an animal born to a dog is not a dog,” Tatay debunked him.

Nobody gave in to the other, but their friendship remained intact for the rest of their lives.

I have since then followed their example in disagreeing with others without being disagreeable because, to quote the late American inspirational author Dale Carnegie, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

Simply put, we can always “agree to disagree.”

I placed the phrase in quotation marks because, long ago in 1770, the phrase first appeared in a memorial sermon delivered by Rev. John Wesley during the funeral of fellow Anglican preacher George Whitefield, with whom he had “agreed to disagree” in their debates over “free will” against “predestination”.

Wesley preached that while God knows the future, He does not predestine it. It is up to us whether to do good or bad deeds.

But Whitefield held on to the doctrine that all events have been willed by God.

To this day, religious squabbles do not end in agreement because of differences in interpretation of doctrines, as on the subject of monotheism in Christianity. Some take it to mean as praying to only one God; another to “one in three persons”.  Roman Catholics deny praying to, but merely “venerating” Virgin Mary and the Church-canonized saints.

A believer believes what he has been made to believe or what his senses tell, akin to color-blind individuals who may not distinguish one color from another.

To quote the Dalai Lama, “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.”

Methinks only the “laws of nature” like gravity, heredity and chemistry are right all the time.  We always fall down, never “up”.

We, too, often find ourselves enmeshed in so-called “righteous indignation” because we think we are right and the others, wrong.

But the “right” one may yield to the “wrong” one as a “peace-keeping” measure. I remember the moment I was boarding an airplane, only to see an old woman seated in my assigned seat. I showed her my boarding pass to prove she was occupying my aisle seat.

She proposed to keep my seat, but I would not agree until she begged for “mercy” because of a kidney problem that necessitated frequent walks to the CR.

Another instance was when I was already first in line at the senior citizens’ lane in a pharmacy. Out of the blue a younger woman rushed ahead of me while saying, “I feel bad. I need to take medicine now.”

In both the airplane and pharmacy scenes, I could have asserted my “priority right” at the risk of being judged “inconsiderate” by eyewitnesses.

I eventually realized I had done right in allowing myself to be “wronged” for their sake and mine, too. Being hypertensive, I must keep cool all the time.  Otherwise, I could land in the hospital or, worse, underground.



KUDOS to MORE Electric and Power Corp. For the second consecutive month, it paid refunds to customers who have religiously paid their monthly bills on time for three years.

Out of 20 eligible consumers, 12 of them personally got back their deposits ranging from PHP2,500 to PHP8,000 in a simple ceremony held at the firm’s office in Iloilo City last Friday.

During the occasion, MORE Power president and chief executive officer Roel Z. Castro announced that about five million pesos in bill deposits would be refunded within this year in compliance with the Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers which allows consumers to be refunded after paying their monthly dues for three years without fail, or upon termination of electrical connection.

Starting from 62,000 consumers taken over from the previous distribution utility in February 2020, MORE Power has expanded to 93,000-plus this year.