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Interesting times/Kakatwang panahon (PJI editorial 4 May 2005)

WE LIVE in interesting times. These are times in which popularity is conveniently construed as reliable measure of human worth. The trenchant mind-set is going with the flow, not exactly standing one’s ground.

So nearly everyone strives to cozy up to, maybe please the crowds to gain their approval to hoist up one’s approval ratings by a few rungs.

A drop in one’s approval ratings owing to a not-exactly perfect perception of a whimsical, ever-griping populace, that’s deemed as disaster or stigma on one’s person. Lose rapport with those yammering hordes? That’s seen as blight on one’s capacity to lead.

So the current leadership isn’t exactly likeable and most of the led including the misled are in furor at everything that gets their goat—runaway increases in costs of fuel, water, and electricity; racked up cost of education; unabated graft and corrupt practices in government; chaotic traffic and idiotic television viewing fare… The litany of woes could go on and on. As if it were a feat of miracle, we turn everything we can set our eyes on into whine.

The nation’s leaders often provide a convenient scapegoat. We can heap the truckloads of woes upon their backs, toss the crosses we bear on their shoulders and see them off for a convenient crucifixion, outright sacking, or dumping off into the dustbin of history.

This is supposedly a Christian nation. Why, even that Leader who started up Christianity minced no word when He flat-out told His followers: “Take up your cross and follow me.” That’s not exactly heeded in these parts or is it?

Probably, we equate nation-building to tongue-lashing, bad-mouthing, and head-bashing.

The last few days evidenced this frenzy for whatever passes off as nation-building. The wage-earners had their field day of noise and fury howling at government to raise wages and go bust. An extant defense chief backed by a few blokes plied out a batch of sound bytes to topple the current administration. Next, a triumvirate of high clerics let out a cry for the current head of state to pack her bags and ship out.

That’s a lot of lung-busting hue and cry from the hordes that those who wish to be popular can cozy up to.

We’d rather not add up to the noise pollution. It’s no irony that those of small minds are fitted out with big mouths.

Ang tubig kapag matining, maaasahan mong malalim. Kapag maingay, tiyak na mababaw.

(Translation into Tagalog-based Pilipino)

NABUBUHAY tayo sa kakatwang yugto ng panahon. Panahon itong nakasingkaw ang kasikatan sa halaga ng pagkatao. Umiiral ang kaisipan na kailangang magpatianod sa anumang agos-- hindi pagtindig sa sariling paa.

Kaya naman bawat isa yata’y nakikisunod sa bawat kapritso at hilig ng karamihan, susunod na tila buntot ng aso na ipapalagpag o iwawagwag para maging mainam sa pananaw ng madla.

Kawawa ang hindi kinikilingan ng madla—parang may batik sa pagkatao, parang itinakwil ng mapaglarong tadhana.

Hindi kinagigiliwan ng pinamumunuan ang kasalukuyang pinuno kaya nag-uumapaw sa ngitngit at alburuto sa alinmang mapagbubuntunan ng galit—taas-presyo ng krudo, tubig, at ilaw; igtad na matrikula sa edukasyon; patuloy na katiwalian at kabulukan sa gobyerno; impiyernong trapiko’t gunggong na palabas-telebisyon… Walang patid ang litanya ng dusa. Para na yatang unang milagro sa Cana, anumang mahagilap hindi tatantanan sa buhos ng alak.

Pinakamadaling mahagip ng sipat ang sinumang lider para ratratin ng mura’t alimura, bagsakan ng mga krus nating pasan, at ipagtulakan para maipako, masibak, o maibalibag sa kangkungan ng kasaysayan.

Kristiyano daw kasi tayo. Kahit iyong nalintikang unang lider ng Kristiyanismo’y humirit sa mga taga-sunod Niya: “Pasanin mo ang iyong krus at sumunod ka sa Akin.” Hindi naman nasusunod iyon at lalong hindi nasusundan ang anumang bakas niyon.

Inaakala natin marahil na pagpapatibay ng bansa ang panlalait, panlilibak, at pagmumura.

Nakita natin ang katibayan ng ganitong akala nitong ilang araw na nakalipas. Umatungal ang mga manggagawa para itaas ang suweldo, ibagsak ang presyo ng bilihin, idamay sa bagsak ang gobyerno. Nasundan ng ngalngal ng isang ex-defense chief at mga kasabwat nito—nagpalabas ng sandamukal na ngawa para matibag ang kasalukuyang administrasyon at mapalitan ng junta. Sumunod ang ilang obispo. Ngumalngal para lisanin na ng pinuno ng bansa ang kanyang puwesto.

Makatungkab-baga ang tindi ng ingay na nalikha ng marami na kailangan yatang pagbigyan para maging sikat. Para maging popular.

Mahirap nang dagdagan pa ang sangkaterbang ingay. Hindi naman kasi kakatwa na laging magkasama ang makitid na isip at maluwang na bunganga.

Sabi nga: “Ang tubig kapag matining, maaasahan mong malalim. Kapag maingay, tiyak na mababaw.”


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