I'm trying to think how many people I have met who are martyrs.
Sister Rita, a nurse that worked with me, was killed a year after I left Africa by people unknown: she was walking on mission property to the dam that supplied the gardens water, and they never found who killed her.
She was chubby and cheerful, and I still have a holy card she sent to me that has a picture of Mary and the lines "He is truth in your arms, and our hope".
Another friend who was killed was a fellow physician, a German neurologist who decided to retire to Africa and ran a hospital. At our last visit, we both discussed if we should stay or leave...I left in July, and she was killed in August, when those associated with the "insurgency" decided to rob the hospital...
One priest (whose brother I knew) "disappeared" and a year later, we heard that he had witnessed a massacre and been killed by the government and his body was thrown down a mine shaft. One of those witnessing the dissposal of his body visted family in South Africa, and told his clergyman, who sent word up to us.
One of my Korean friends had a grandfather killed for being Catholic.
Then there were the Mexican sisters who had a monastery near where I grew up. They had fled the persecution in that country (which few Americans had ever heard about). Father Braun, beloved of the Mescalero Apaches (where I once worked) and later a survivor of Bataan, the Death march, and the death ships, actually was involved in smuggling to Catholic clergy in Mexico in those days.
Here in the Philippines, although my nephew was killed in the cross fire of a political murder (by a rival politician) one wonders: Was he killed because instead of running away, he leaned over to help his friend, the son of the politician?
Although the killing of those on the left get the publicity of their fellow leftists in the US, the dirty little secret is that some of the "political killings" are merely eliminating rivals, or eliminating reporters spilling the beans on corruption, and some are revenge (the army revenging against a now retired "militant" who had killed a lot of people years ago and got away with it), and some are merely about money (my nephew's death was about who gets to be mayor, which of course allows a lot of money to be skimmed into one's pockets for personal use).
So who is a martyr, and who is just a victim of political squabbles?
When Thomas Beckett is killed for opposing the king's power grab, and Edith Stein is killed merely because she was jewish, the definition seems to be a bit broad.
But as I said in my original essay, the decision is made earlier, when one decides to live for the truth, or to do one's daily work despite the danger, and one's simple fidelity to one's vocation is the cause of the hatred that takes one's life...