Every time I troll through the various local news sites, I remind myself that I will not, I repeat, will not read the crime stories or the ones that describe children being hurt or maimed because of the stupidity and/or viciousness of adults.
I always fail. Somehow I always end up reading about depravity, gratuitous violence, and heartbreaking tragedies, and for the rest of the day I feel worried and unsettled and sometimes even depressed.
Is it just me or are the crimes getting worser and worser as one of those fantastic creatures in Alice in Wonderland (or it Through The Looking Glass? Whichever)? Family members butchering each other, friends hacking or shooting each other to death, children being raped by neighbors, police executing suspects of carnapping. I cringe everytime I read the reports, but gad, my eyes seem glued to the webpage and my right hand seems to have a life of its own as it manuevers the mouse to scroll down.
The contents of the tabloids are the stuff of nightmares, and so many people are living them. It’s a wonder that the human race continues to thrive (if this state we’re all in can be called ‘thriving’, nevermind the advancements in science and technology); we all might as well go back to living in the stone ages with the way we all deal with one another.
I myself confess to having a mercurial (read: hotheaded and impatient) temper. I sometimes fear that one day, in my impatience with other people who are severely lacking in commonsense or are plain stupid/who take advantage of their badges and so-called positions of responsibility in government, I might just end up whacking someone on the head with the business end of an umbrella.
Years ago I saw this movie starring Denzel Washington called ‘The Fallen.” In it, a devil named Azazel goes around the world doing insane and vicious mishief: he touches one person and the indivual commits violence to other like shooting grandmothers crossing the street or throwing babies in the river (I forget specifically the cases Washington – a cop – handled); then he jumps to another person, leaving the previous individual whose mind he occupied completely unaware that he had become a cold-blooded killer.
Two weeks ago my friend Reginald ‘Chi’ Brotonel visited from Hong Kong, and over dinner we talked about the insanity of the violence that takes place in Philippine society day in and day out. Of course we talked about structural violence and its proponents in this unblinkingly despicable government; but what struck both Chi and I is how random the smaller crimes are, and in the same stance, how mind-numbingly violent.
Maybe it’s Azazel, we mused.
But not to put the blame on imaginary devils, the truth is that the kind of culture and the kind of values this society creates is not one that will allow people to respond, live up to and act on the more altruistic, kinder, gentler side of their natures. The sins condemned by the Catholic bible and other sacred texts of other world religions (including the New Age ones) proliferate because we have a society that allows worse sins continue unpunished; impunity reigns, and everything that spits at the face of goodness follows. It’s a deeply flawed world where the godless and selfish walk without shame.
I believe that people can be be kinder, more compassionate and less selfish if most of us did not suffer hunger and see our own children fall prey to sickness and disease.
I believe that people can react immediately and automatically to injustice if most of us did not suffer injustice daily at the hands of those who promise with forked tongues that they would protect us and our rights.
I believe that people can be less selfish if not most of us did not have to fear that that there would be no next meal; that the humble shelter we call home will be torn down and destroyed; that the jobs we hold will not be taken away from us because of calulated greed.
I believe that people can be taught to drop all their petty but potentially destructive vices like drinking alcohol if they were given other venues to exorcise their personal demons or to simply relax (hey, a state-of-the-art movie theater in every home!).
Hay, to be good. Naka-kabit pa rin yan sa lipunan, kung paano tayo pinalaki at kung anong klaseng lipunan ang ating kinalakhan. The rich and well-off have all the material resources and the opportunities to help others, but they don’t. Many (o sige, most – seeing how Philippine is) opt to live their lives in a bubble, oblivious to the pain and suffering around them, indifferent to everything else but their shallow little pursuits and empty ambitions that serve no one but themselves. When they die, no one will mourn them but their families; and their lives carried the worth of paste jewelry.
I know am writing in generalities here, and I might be being unfair to many rich people who do help the poor in their own way; but am writing in broad strokes, so to speak.
How do we fight evil in all its forms but to first begin to look beyond ourselves and our concerns? To look up from whatever it is that we’ve been doing in service of our own whims and wants, and then to take notice that others around us do not have the same chances and opportunities as we do: they’re all to busy trying to survive and to maintain whatever sense of dignity their poverty and lack of education allow them to. We could be less prone and susceptile to our human frailties and weaknesses that make some of us act and think less than human. We could embrace the godlier side of our natures, and help others embrace theirs and build a society where evil cannot exist and flourish.
Hmm, am thinking about socialism now.
Anyways, just writing down what’s been bugging me all morning. Crazy tabloid stories that speak so much about the kind of country and world we live in.