Thursday, January 17, 2013

Quo vadis, Pinoy?
By Dr. Lucio F. Teoxon Jr.

A decade has passed since we last observed the centennial celebration of our hard-won freedom after more than three centuries of colonial domination by Spain. One may well recall with what pomp and pageantry we all celebrated the occasion and poured down the streets in Metro Manila and in the other parts of the archipelago, proclaiming to the world and high heavens our independence and self-rule.

Filipinos prize their freedom, knowing pretty well how dearly it was paid for by the blood of our brave and noble heroes, both sung and unsung, so that the succeeding generations may live in peace, which is the precondition for progress. And if we sang with the purest voice to celebrate our freedom, it is because we have known the depths of black despair and travail in the iron hands of Castilian hegemony, including the American and Japanese brands.

Vigilance remains ever as the price exacted to preserve liberty. Kasarinlan at kalayaan hinding-hindi pababayaan… so goes the Centennial theme song. That vow should be renewed in the heart of every Filipino, reaffirmed in the marrow of his bones and rewritten in his own blood like the Katipuneros did. While keeping watch over those forces that would subvert his political freedom, he should stand up to the challenge of its prime concomitant, and that is, responsibility.

Without the will to assume responsibility as the requirement of freedom, we can easily forfeit it, as we once did in recent Philippine history, under a despot; or turn it over to totalitarian ideologues who deceptively use the very rhetoric of democracy. Unable to bear the weight of responsibility of self-governance, we may give up our freedom by default and unwarily let the power freaks run the show for ourselves. Then we would see the scenario of the slave learning to love his chain. We should be warned against the mentality that would settle for just about anything less only because the bigger deal entails stiffer demands.

This brings us to the question: Where do we stand now and whither are we headed? Can we truly say that we live at present in peace and prosperity as a nation?

Let us zero in on peace since it is the more primordial issue. Do we really want it deep in our hearts? There has been much talk about peace ad nauseam. The common folks in the street babble about peace, peace negotiators peddle peace, and clergymen at the pulpit prattle about peace.

Yet there is no peace.

What could possibly be the reason why? Here’s what.

The crisis is in our consciousness. Unless we effect a radical change in our ways of thinking, a complete turnaround in the structure of our consciousness, individually and as a nation, there is no hope for peace.

Nothing short of a revolution of the heart is needed. Yes, we begin with ourselves, brother. On a personal level. Gandhi put it perfectly when he said that the individual must be the change he would want to see in the world. For we cannot change the world. Do not believe Karl Marx who said that our task is not to understand the world but to change it. That is baloney. But we can change as an individual. While we cannot remove all the muck or stones on the ground that bruise our feet, we can make good shoes to walk over them. Our difficulty, it seems to me, is that in our tradition there is no culture of inwardness. We have long been used to perceiving that which is “out there” while neglecting to look inwardly at what is “in here” under the skin as it were.

Thus, we are all held hostage by what we see with our physical eyes. We hardly listen to the promptings of the voice of the silence within. We value externals more than the internal, the superficial rather than the essential. Hence, we love to display our possessions, our bank accounts, cars, etc. but give little or no appreciation for such inner qualities as goodness, compassion, charity, honesty, justice, gratitude, prudence, integrity, and so on. We fail to understand that the inner is as important, if not more so, as the outer; and together they make up two facets of a unitary movement. As within, so without.

It follows, then, that the outside turmoil that plagues us in our country today is the external expression of the hidden chaos in the individual Filipino. Our society goes awry as the individual’s psyche becomes a seething cauldron of negative emotions and murderous thoughts. The individual is not separate from society. He is society, multiplied umpteen times. Psychologically, he is no different than everybody else—phoney, self-centered, violent, and driven by the three p’s: position, power, and prestige.

The Filipino who has long been hounded by the Furies will discover that peace as a distant ideal is really at his fingertips by creating a space in his mind so that he is no longer torn by inner conflicts. Purged of the debris that muddles his mind and heart, he attains inward wholeness that makes for psychological freedom, the inner counterpart of political freedom. Then only will he prove himself worthy of the heritage of political liberty that his illustrious forefathers had secured for him by laying down their lives. Equipped with the wisdom of the heart, he sets forth upon the path of righteousness as he pursues his dream of a brighter tomorrow.

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