Reformation: Other Faces

History has always been an open book that is filled with the advancement of human society. But whenever we have a moment to take a look at the past, it is almost impossible not to see bloodshed and wars. The path of history is marred with violence and death on every angle, but on the latter part of that path, we see less blood and dirt. If there’s one thing that constantly brings back our faith in humanity, it’s our ability to change for the betterment of the society.

Several societal laws and norms existed in the past that even being mentioned today would shock people. Like slavery for example, existed for thousands of years and was common in almost every part of the world. But with society’s valuation of human dignity, slavery slowly lost its foothold on Earth and virtually everyone today live as free and dignified men. The quality of their freedom and the use of their dignity however, are fit for another topic entirely.

Reformations happen when certain conditions are met. Reformation often refer to things that are in a grand scale – things that are beyond immediate fixing or quick solutions. It requires people, or even one person, to identify the need to change, execute the process to change, and fight for it – sometimes even until death.

When Abraham Lincoln deemed that slavery in the US was morally wrong, he did everything he could to challenge it despite slavery being sanctioned by the highest court. And though he made a lot of enemies and died because of it, he was more than a catalyst to the peaceful end of slavery.  2,000 years back when the Jewish elite under the Roman government exercised abusive control of church and state, another man stood up and created a movement to radically change the lives of people of every race, gender, and creed. Jesus, the Son of a carpenter, changed the course of history with the Jewish people, and caused the Romans and other believers to abandon their old faith and religions. Of course, Jesus made some enemies and got crucified on a cross for it. The string of abuse of power inside religions didn’t stop there, so another man by the name of Martin Luther, hammered its contention to a church door to send a message that the current powers weren’t doing what they were supposed to be doing as commanded by their God. And so came the Protestant Reformation which also shook the entire Western Civilization. When we look at history, reformations happen when something is wrong and needed fixing. And when you look at our society today, there are probably thousands of wrongs that need to be changed.

On June 4, 1919, women in the US were finally allowed the right to vote. This didn’t happen because the legislators suddenly thought about changing the laws, it happened because people saw the need to reform it. This event sparked a series of changes across the United States, most especially for women. With the ability to participate in choosing candidates, women became more empowered to dwell in areas that were once only exclusive to men, like politics, business, higher education, and their choice of career. This reformation was important for women worldwide as it influenced other countries to give their women equal rights and opportunities with men.

Today, almost a century later, how did that reformation change the lives of women? A lot. But to say that they were all positive changes isn’t intellectually honest. While we celebrate the equal rights and opportunities given to men and women, several things backfired against actual progress that matters. Fifty years back, women fought against sexual suppression. We would think that the best thing that would happen would be a more open and free society that doesn’t shun discussion on topics of sex for women.  Today, third-wave feminists are running, screaming, and protesting down the streets and lobbies completely naked and hostile. These women openly push other women to be a “slut” and to be proud of it. They encourage other women to be sexually promiscuous and have multiple partners. Is this what the first wave activists envisioned for the future? Probably not. A lot of these women are very angry and hostile about everything, from men spreading their legs in public spaces, to “sexist” airconditioning in offices, we might think that these women are a far cry from their noble predecessors.

If there is one thing we need to learn from this, it’s that as a society, we should be careful in allowing and tolerating certain values to be changed. We should put a threshold to where a certain change is enough, and where it becomes harmful to all of us.

On the other hand, we know that slavery was abolished in 1865. But 153 years later, racial discrimination still exists. The African-Americans certainly didn’t abuse their rights to live as free men, so why is racism still here?

With these things in mind, the articles in this issue take on different shadings. We are pleased to share with you the story of Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Laureate in the history who champions every girl’s right to 12 years of free, safe, quality education (page 50). And of course, like the famous author Merry Wiesner-Hanks said, “You can’t talk about reformation without talking about gender,” we made sure that the women department is served well by letting some of the contemporary authors express their view towards gender bias in the publishing industry (page 20). Since we also celebrate World Wildlife Day this month, we delve into the available literature about De-extinction. Obviously, much more work needs to be done on this topic, and we are incapable of solving the pros and cons, so we encourage you to explore this fascinating topic as well.

As famous speaker and author Dr. Ravi Zacharias said, “Freedom that is only granted by law will not ensure that a former master sees his former slave as his equal.” The government cannot legislate morality. Other people can’t force you to be a loving person. A common thread for most reformations in the world is to promote equality. But while reformations in the society and law are great for all of us, a reformed heart would serve better for the years to come.