Change Ourselves Or Content Ourselves

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

– Edmund Burke

 

 

There was a rally yesterday. It clogged the streets, made a lot of noise, and hopefully it got the message across. I think it’s a good thing that people rally. It’s important that people exercise their rights. 

I just don’t think it’s enough.

Let’s say we get what we want, Arroyo leaves, and someone else takes over. What can we expect? Well, to be frank, a new set of crooks. (Not exactly, since many of them are old crooks back in this game of political musical chairs.)

 

 

A lot of the conversations now seem to lead to people bickering and complaining at how bad the government is, how bad things are, and how everything that’s happening is someone’s fault – someone else’s fault. Yes, it’s true that many of our problems are inherited, but that doesn’t change the fact that these problems are for the living to solve, and the fruits of overcoming, for the living to enjoy.

 

 

A lot of my present businesses were failing companies we took over with the hope of turning things around. These companies came with baggage that made things more difficult, but it also came with assets, if used properly, should allow our success. Now if one of them failed, I can’t say, “It’s not my fault. I didn’t create the problems.” IT IS MY FAULT. It’s my fault because, whether or not the problems originated from me, the company is my responsibility. It doesn’t matter if it was someone else’s mess. It’s my mess now.  I believe it’s the same thing with the other areas of our life. We can blame our limitations and failures on others or we can take responsibility. Taking responsibility is the first step to solving the problems.

By taking responsibility, I mean putting ourselves in a state that’s accountable for things that are going on. Obviously not everyone is in a position to be accountable for national decisions, that’s exactly why there’s a government. But we can, and should be accountable for our lives. In our own small way, do we make our families, communities, and nation better because of our existence? This is a question I pose to myself regularly, “Does my existence make things better? Does it make other people better? Do I litter? (No) Do I follow traffic rules? (Sometimes) Do I talk on my mobilephone while driving? (Yes, even if I shouldn’t) Do I charge people correctly?(Yes) Do I pay my employees well? (I could probably pay them better) Do I waste electricity, water, and gas (Yes…) Do I consider others more highly than myself? (This is getting tough)

 

I remember one particular conversation i had recently, where this one person complaining non-stop. Fed up, I told him, “Then you do something! Give us a good alternative. If not, shut-up.” Because the truth is, if we don’t change ourselves and take responsibility, nothing is going to change. We might as well learn to be content being cheated. That’s better than living frustrated at our impotence.

 

The Short-end of High-end (Part 2)

Here’s the contradiction that entered my mind: None of these people will ever enjoy any of these. Here they are selling, no, preaching the benefits and the superiority of their product, but they will never enjoy any of it.


I tried putting myself in the shoes of a salesman in a high-end shoe store, and I tried to imagine what his life might be like:

Single, hoping to save enough marry the love of his life who’s studying to be a nurse, at the same time putting younger siblings to school, and taking care of an aging mother. Professionally, he’s a talented salesman, with sales quotas, commission levels, and probably receives a base salary of P8000.00/month ($200/month).

Now if I were this man, and I had to wake up to the prospect of serving some rich brat as he or she spends my one year’s earnings in half an hour on shoes, all the while enduring the demands, and criticisms when a size or color is lacking, I honestly don’t think I’d last.


And that’s on a good day.

Some people might ask, “Why don’t they find another job?” There is no other job. And if there are, it’s either a job he’s not fit for, or a similar low-paying, not to mention thankless, post.

While class divides are present all over the world, the disparity, abuses, and dangers seem to be more evident in third-world nations. I think this is especially sad since none of this is new. I don’t remember how many studies on poverty and class differences we were required to read back in college. This is old. It’s so old, we miss it. To me that’s the dangerous part: we don’t see it anymore. Well maybe we do see it, but what do we do about it?

About a Boy (and a Lot of Other Things)


I just finished the last pieces of my cranberry – pecan – almond mix, it is part of my attempt (so far losing attempt) to get back to a healthier lifestyle. Beside me is Pilo a.k.a Luca Brazi, driving me to my last two meetings of the day – I’ve already had five. (Not including dates of course.) It’s early, but I am already very very tired.

As I type this, stuck in traffic, an everyday event for the people of Manila, I look out the car window, at the passing motorcycles, the people waiting in line for a ride on pay day, the policeman who isn’t doing his job, and this idiotic taxi trying to cut us (which probably has a rosary hanging from his rear view mirror and the names of Jesus, Mary, some relative, or some combination of the three painted on it), I think to myself, “How rich life truly is.”



I look at my own life and experiences, and I think about how much has happened in so short a period. I think I first took stock of my life at 16 years old after graduating valedictorian from a small high school. I was sure I would live forever and I knew I could achieve anything. I evaluated again while looking at the graveyards next to our safe-house in Afghanistan. Lito (one of the Filipinos based there) and I had just missed being victims of a suicide bomber because of a fortunate mistake. Once again I was sure. I was sure that death would come someday, and I was sure that when that day came, there’d be nothing I could do to stop it. But I’m not thinking about death, but the richness of the time in between our conception and last breath. How rich life truly is.

I like to think of my life as a story. I’m the subject, but I’m not always the good guy, many times I’m the villain. Many times I’m everything I always said I would never be. Many times I see in myself everything I hate in others. That’s one place where fairy tales and real life diverge. In the real world, the good guys and bad guys are not so clear cut. Not all bad guys are ugly, and they don’t always lose. And not all good characters are beautiful, and it seems they rarely win. In the real world, the wicked witch and the giant ogre wave to a cheering crowd as they waltz into power, they love them because they built roads, and schools, and signed their name on her left boob. They love them because they don’t know any better. And the prince, he wrestles with his demons. The characters of real life are flawed and imperfect, capable of heroics, but bound to be corrupted. We don’t take scripts and play our characters out. On the contrary, we write our roles out by the decisions we make, big and small, they dictate who we are for the day, who we become, and who we are to be remembered as. The end result is a complex cast of characters. How rich life truly is.

One thing I’ve really learned to appreciate and value more is the diversity of life, the diversity of our stories. Not all stories will be the same. There will stories of battles, and the people who rose up to win. There’ll be some about those, who grew up with animals, and never learned to assimilate. Some will be like the little girl who ran out of matches and died in the snow. There’ll be love that’s broken, stolen, and unfolded. There’ll be a lot more, and of different kinds too. Our lives are a thousand of our stories, and thousands of stories from others mixed in. How rich life truly is.

This blog really isn’t about a boy. But of boys, and girls, and the stories we play out in this great dance called life. I just thought of this: No wonder we don’t get along. We’re in one dance but all moving to our own music. We’ve forgotten the steps and have lost our director. And we all call our dances the same thing: Freedom, but it seems Chaos is more fitting. How rich life truly is. How treacherous as well.