I Swear

WORDS FROM ORAKIDORM is a new  op-ed column published every Thursday issue in TIA BELAU. The author requests that I let the readers guess who the writer is.  Hint: It’s not a difficult guess, especially if you’ve been reading this newspaper for several years.

In this inaugural article, I decided to write about commitments to the words, “I swear”. Recently, I read in the newspaper several open letters discussing family trees and the right to traditional chiefly titles. We have had several incidence in the past where these struggles between the bearers of stewardship of traditional titles have fought among themselves as to who is the legitimate matriarch who shall decide. This is becoming quite common and involves many families and clans in Palau.

On several occasions my clan/family has been involved in similar situations, which were not pleasant experiences and have probably caused permanent damage to the architecture of our relationship as related people.  The principles of our matrilineal culture are quite clear and when muddled or cloudy, the solution is not a product of confrontation but of consensus. When that consensus does not work, then it may result in death and this has happened in the past. Many of us know more about our father’s clan compared to our mother’s because we grow up spending most of our time with our father’s world. The fact that we know more about our father’s world, DOES NOT make us owners of that world. And just because we do not know more about our mother’s world DOES NOT remove us from that ownership.

Clearly, there are issues that are not as clear-cut such as compensation for the time and resource investments for those who have been care-takers of their father’s world; and the debate between females in our mother’s world as to who is a stronger matriarch. There are ways to amicably and through consensus be able to negotiate the solutions to these “clouded” issues. However, we have chosen to utilize the “modern” judiciary system to “solve” these conflicts.

Given that we have adopted the modern juris prudence system, one of the requirements is to “swear by the Bible” to “tell the truth and nothing but the truth so help me God.” There lies the whole hypocrisy of the system in the effort to “find justice”. The amount of lies and untruths being told in our Courts is amazingly high even after people swear by the Bible. Good thing for every lie told, lightning does not strike, because it did, the whole Court would have been burnt down a long time ago. I can understand if these people do not believe in the Bible but most of these people are church going people. Some even win their cases by lying through the Court system. The very system of “I swear” is loosing it true essence because some people have no regards to the commitment to speak the truth let alone believe in the Bible.

A poem titled, “Liars on the Stand” is by Ngerikiil Collections:

“Will you tell the truth and nothing and the truth so help you God?”

Your Honor, the court, the community and all the witnesses, “I do”…nod,

Church-goers, community leaders, nice people but liars on the stand,

They want the titles, the money and will go to length to steal the land.

And now that those who know have passed away, they lurk around,

They are shameless and arrogant to think that they will not be found,

They are liars on the stand from all over the land, who come in mass to lie,

Liars on the stand who concocted one story of lie, which they know, is sly.

Oh, your Honor, do you know, do you know, they are lying on your stand,

Oh, God do you know, do you know, they are lying with the Bible on hand,

It is written in the Holy Word that what you sow, you shall reap in the end,

Those who know, those who own, those who are not liars, prayers they send.

Orakidorm is published every Thursday issue of TIA BELAU.

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