Spent the last three hours surfing the net inside an Internet café full of boisterous teens, groping at things and realities that appear to me to be difficult to unravel and understand. Though the hours seemed long, I was deprived only of the use of 45 pesos, unbelievably cheap for one used to the high costs of technology.
Sites visited were mostly along the lines of email lists and web blogs of assorted persuasion and orientation. Though quite unscientific and maybe even, illogical, I had wanted to spend the time toward finding out more about the things and realities that continually irritate me like a mote in one's eye during my moments of solitude.
Understandably, the blogs I went to provided no discernible relief except to inform me that many people, educated and quite learned, continue to exercise visceral hate and/or dislike for certain things, people, country, etc, to the point of allowing their rather creative minds to be closed to any attitude, suggestion, or even inkling, that might suggest that they need to rethink their ideas about those things. One gets the sense that to do so would be tantamount to admission of signs of weakness, inferiority, or even disrespect. In my estimation, they have thrown acceptable logic out of the window, and replaced it with their own reasoned-out worldviews and absolutes. Mind you, these are the same people who will extol and embellish to the high heavens the perceived virtues of spouses, members of the family, children, loved ones, or anybody close with which they share the same attitudes and biases. My doubts about them and what they might write extend to their abilities to be impartial with things that might also affect me. Thus, reading them requires a bit of caution and justifiable reservations.
Anyway, the three hours spent were in my estimation quite purposeful and fruitful, since I did find out or discover if you may, new enlightenment about things and relationships that I am inexorably attached to on a daily basis. Enlightenment which may not have direct relevance to the last paragraph.
False modesty aside, as one respected member of an email list intoned, my usual social interaction in the home city of my birth has been with people considered part of the upper strata of society. People educated in the best possible ways available and considered members of the affluent and/or influential elite in the city. The false modesty exclusion covers my insinuation that I, too, belonged to that sector. And I do since truly as far as I can recall, most everybody else around me, at home, in school, and in social gatherings, have invested me with membership to that group. Whether justified or not is beside the point.
I find then that this precisely has been an integral part of my problems, not because it was wrong to associate with the group but because this gave me a rather skewed reflection of realities, absent exposure and association with the other sectors. The local assumption was simply that this favored group not only was the un-appointed spokesperson to articulate the hues and cries of the entire city, or country, but that only this group could know, articulate, or reflect society in general. But reality dictates that such is not the case. The lower strata of society have as much claim to this primacy, and maybe even more since they definitely are more in numbers.
Almost to the man, members of the considered elite have been quite unanimous in their negative prognostications about the state of the country, and this is quite congruently reflected in the ways they live their lives. Almost without ambitions tied up with staying in the old country. Bogged down with deep inertia about what to do with their lives to help themselves and others. And I do not have to go far on this, since regrettably some of my own relatives can be counted. Where the inaction, or call it paralysis, has reached to a point, where almost a parasitic relationship exists between those who have or can with those who largely through their own volition do not have or can’t. Parasitic in the sense that not only a sense of victimization but also that of entitlement to unqualified assistance because things are bad, have pervaded many people's thinking. If one's interaction is limited to this sector, it is easy then to acquire the same sense of frustration and desperation about the way things are.
But my little realization whispers to me that such is not the same in the lower strata of society. In a real way, they are thinking of, are motivated with, and moved to action to, the realities facing them as inevitable challenges, some more difficult than others, that they have to meet head-on. If they have skills, regardless how menial or inconsequential they may seem, they know that using those skills will help alleviate their present dire conditions. Seeking employment using those skills will be one way to go for them.
Thus, you find them everywhere. Newspaper boys and other street hawkers, risking life and limb every moment of their day, to earn a few pesos. Carpenters, masons, even gardeners, laundry persons, and maids, networking with their friends so they can be connected with households or businesses in need. Agricultural workers working for 70 pesos for every 8-hour day to keep body and soul together. Contractual workers everywhere, easily distinguishable by their clean and well-ironed uniforms, littering all big malls, doing service for peanuts and gratefully pocketing small tips so long as not seen by their employers or given outside their places of business. And countless others, too tedious to mention or detail, who toil day in and day out for measly wages and equally meager benefits if any, to bring home to their anticipating families. All in all, their number is legion.
A good and relevant question to ask is how these intrepid groups are taking it. Have they as one collective group become surly, grouchy, criminally inclined, unscrupulous, mean, and impolite, cheating, suicidal, desperate, etc.? Surely, there will be those who may fit any or most of the descriptive adjectives used. But as a group, or as they interact with their "masters" on a regular basis?
My own personal observations after my stay so far would belie any negative behavioral connotations about this collective group.
I have not witnessed as much diligent practice of basic courtesies, respect, and even humor, as I have witnessed in this group. I would find it hard to imagine that all this is all made up, fake, belabored or a show. My own personal observations with people I have met and dealt with over the years would assist me to easily expose genuine behavior from one contrived. Quite recently, I was privy to one such incident where an unintended inadvertence in a very innocuous email one-liner, had confirmed for me that a proffered public demeanor was meant to convey something the sender was not.
This then is my little epiphany. And thus, I have good reasons to believe and hope for that as more individuals, unmindful and oblivious of what others might say, search for ways and commit sweat and energy to better themselves and the people around their immediate circles, this country can be turned around, from the grassroots up, and not the other way around.
Let's end with a cliché. Light that solitary candle in the midst of darkness. No need to aim for a big candle, a little one will do. Just make sure it's a candle intended to light the way, and not a self-promoting sparkler whose light lasts only momentarily and shines only on the giver.