… and expect to be strong and healthy.
That’s obvious, David.
But there are equally obvious things, common sensical things, that, for whatever reasons, we fail to understand, such as:
It’s not enough to do relief work.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that people are getting involved. People do need our help. But the smartest way to help people is to live excellently and generously daily – not simply when there’s a disaster. Let’s take this last storm for example. I don’t know if the rainfall was as much as the previous typhoons but, according to one article, Metro Manila had double the the flood spots than the last one.
So now there are more people to relieve. When you take into account that there are still many families displaced from past floods, families we’ve mostly forgotten since “disaster mode” is over, we realize that we’re not solving the real issues that hurt people during heavy rains. Along with the growing pictures of people helping on social media is the growing number of the affected, adding up each year with the growing number of flood spots.
Until we fix the issues of illegal settlers, urban congestion, and lack of provincial development (many times due to the corrupt people running these areas), we can expect more of these disasters. We already know that there will be a few periods of major rains and storms in the country, yet we don’t have a long term solution.
David, we can only do our part. You should be glad people are even helping.
I’m not saying I’m mad. I’m just saying it’s not enough. And if our part can be summed up to reactive volunteerism than we’re in trouble.
More on “our part” later.
It’s not enough to rally.
It’s a great step. But, again, it’s not enough. More than our right to rally, we have a right to vote, a right which should be exercised and exercised wisely. I like a song by Rodriguez that goes, “Public goes irate but forgets the vote date”. It perfectly captures the problem with most societies that suffer from corruption: Good at complaining. Bad at the most fundamental things.
The people leading us? We empowered them. We voted them (or didn’t vote at all). We recommended them to our friends, to our employees, to our congregations. We dealt with them. We made their jingles, made their campaign strategies. We drank their Kool Aid. We allowed them to get away with this for so long.
And it’s not because we didn’t rally sooner.
It’s because we have other rights we didn’t exercise daily. Particularly the much abused word “Freedom”. We’re free to be amazing people daily – not just rich or powerful or influencial or sexy or impressive – but generous, kind, helpful, encouraging, law-abiding, developing, growing, helping individuals. Yet, where is the general focus?
When democracy was conceptualized, with the idea of liberty (or freedom) were two other pillars: equality and fraternity. Way back then, the brains behind democracy understood, that if it was all about being able to do whatever one wanted, we would end up with chaos. Liberty needed to be balanced with equal opportunity (as is possible under the law) and an understanding that we are all responsible for each other as brothers.
So the only way democracy was supposed to work, the only it could work, was if people used their personal freedom to promote equality and fraternity. The body that was supposed to promote and safeguard this was the government they setup.
Keep in mind that during this period in France, the people rose up because two powers were wielding an unhealthy amount of power over them: the monarchy (the elite) and the church (religious institutions). The elite felt entitled to the power and to the services of the people. Sound familiar? The church was influencing a relatively superstitious and uneducated people who were afraid of crossing the church because they would be sent to hell. Sound familiar?
Before someone thinks I’m a communist, I’m not, I want to say that I do believe in the importance of leadership and that leaders will take a prominent role in society – but not to gain advantages but to serve. To serve actually means to be disadvantaged by advantaging others.
I’m also not an atheist. I believe in God and the importance of the church, but not to control people with superstition, not to threaten people with damnation and curses, which will happen anyway to anyone who rejects the source of goodness, Christ, but to present the Gospel, a gift, that while we cannot save ourselves we can turn to Jesus who loves all and wants to save all. Like I said in an old post:
“Paul (the apostle) understood that love cannot be enforced, as many of us attempt to do. Love cannot be coerced. You cannot threaten someone with punishment so that they’ll love you – that’s manipulation. You cannot bribe love with blessings – that’s prostitution. You can try to explain love, yet you won’t go very far. We can’t explain the taste of chocolate to someone who hasn’t tried it. What more love? Love must be shown and love must be experienced, over and over, and over again.“
I just want to be clear. I’m not a communist nor an atheist, but I do believe in aiming for equality (at least under the law) and, like Nacho Libre’s friend said, “I believe in science”. Good philosophy and good science are not enemies of faith, in my opinion they are incredible supporters of faith, so use your brain.
Which leads me to the final part of this post…
It’s enough to do our part.
One of the problems I have with people who keep promoting “rights” is that many times they forget that these “rights” are only possible if there is a higher authority that is capable of enforcing these rights.
Success, virtue, these are good. But the practice of these virtues are not for gaining exultation but must be motivated by a desire to please God. I am guilty of this over and over: practicing virtues such as discipline and hard work and forgetting the source of all virtue, the Lover of my soul, God. Even as I am blinded by the pats on my back for the achievements, I must daily search my soul for the many sins that live in my heart, that no one but God sees, and isn’t He the one who truly counts?
Christianity says this:
Don’t be like that. Don’t go for the exalted. Don’t be overly impressed with the success stories of the world, even religious success stories. Jesus has a different definition of success. Go for the vulnerable. Spend your time, energy, and money on lifting the vulnerable – these includes those you call sinners – because you’re one too. In fact, defend them from those who take from them, who trap them, who abuse them, who condemn them. Be the servant. That’s greatness. Make yourself last. That’s winning. Disadvantage yourself for them, that’s what Jesus did for you.
If you see someone succeeding and using that influence to trap, and alienate and manipulate someone else, that’s a good sign he or she is missing it. If you see someone who is apathetic, who has no interest in taking part in the bigger picture or defending the vulnerable because it doesn’t or shouldn’t affect him or her, that’s a good sign that he or she is missing the point as well.
I see this a lot to be honest. I see this most when I look in the mirror – so I must remind myself not to miss the point of democratic freedom, even more, not to miss the point of Christian freedom as well.
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.