Bryan Paler was driving in heavy traffic in Manila, Philippines when he received a text message from an anonymous number. It read, “We’re coming to get you.” He knew this was likely not an empty threat. Bryan had been an activist in the Communist Party of the Philippines, an armed underground political party that, through guerilla warfare, has been working to overthrow the government since 1968. After years of involvement with the party, Bryan felt that seeking justice through the use of violence would only beget more violence. He chose to leave the movement and help his fellow Filipinos build peace nonviolently by working as a grassroots community organizer.
But leaving an underground armed group is dangerous business. While he didn’t know exactly where this threat was coming from, Bryan knew that the one sending it wanted to induce fear and stop him from being an outspoken proponent for building peace through nonviolent action in the Philippines. Only a few weeks earlier, a friend of Bryan’s had received a similar threat and had been in hiding because of it.
But Bryan chose not to act in fear. Instead, he informed the one threatening him that he’d like to know when he would be coming, so Bryan could have coffee ready and they could talk. He also told him, “You can do what you want to me, but just know that my entire church community will continue to work wholeheartedly for peace, even if you kill me.” The anonymous texts threatening his life stopped. Bryan continues to build peace in the Philippines through creative, nonviolent ways.
From Another Way IS Possible: MCC Remembrance Day Resource for Teachers, 2014.
Attend MCC Ontario's Fall Conference on Nov 14 to see, hear, and experience first-hand how MCC is changing lives and communities through peacebuilding. More info at mcco.ca/fall-conference.