By Jing Villamil
Is our reality the stuff from which dreams are made of? Or do our dreams cross-over from night to dawn to become the reality of our days?
Usually, after shaking and knocking hard your head, the lingering waking effects of your dream disappear to nothingness; you shrug it off, you forget. Sometimes though, the dreams escalate to the status of walking stalking threatening nightmares! Who can forget the nightmare of the last fighting moments? Of the great heroes – Andres Bonifacio, Jose Rizal, Gregorio del Pilar, Ninoy Aquino? Of the infamous – Emilio Aguinaldo, Ferdinand Marcos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo. Flashback to shots of the cabalistic ritual of disenthronement. And bugs crawl underneath your skin! These were not all in the mind. The images are immortalized, on film and on print. And in the screen of our minds. How low we have crawled. How beastly we have howled.
Listen to the Lolas, heed the Manangs! We must beat fast a retreat back to values old, tried and true. And lost! To remind us why we must freeze the screen on those particularly despicable moments in our history. In our story. Actually, it is never a question of lost values. It is more of re-examining, re-defining and re-instituting whatever goodness we always did have, carved in the core of our beings.
This is true the world over and since the beginning of time. The Greeks who pioneered liberal education in the West, taught the values of courage and respect for authority and for human dignity mainly through the epics of Homer. And in the East, Confucius trained his students that to become good leaders, they must cultivate not only the right mind but also the right heart, for “the character of the ruler is like the wind, and that of the people, like grass. In whatever direction the wind blows, the grass will always bend.” The early Christians passed on the values of love and forgiveness through the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.
And our ninuno taught the young ones not only through their native epics, but also through their legacy of songs, proverbs, riddles or bugtong.
Physicist-turned-social scientist Serafin Talisayon and others of same mind, insist that a crisis of values lies underneath the enormous and complex problems of our present times (social, political, economic). And lately, the coronavirus pandemic. In other words, the world’s problems are fundamentally moral ones.
Therefore, to return to the process of rebuilding our future, the first thing to do is to re-evaluate our values because the national character, if read correctly, mirrors the long-term future of our nation.
This is not something that is entirely new to us. Talisayon writes that we, as a people, have historically gone through a “concerted communal effort” to re-evaluate our values and to re-build our future three times in our national life:
The first was triggered by the execution of Fathers Gomez, Burgos and Zamora in 1872 which led to the outbreak of the 1896 Philippine Revolution with prime movers Rizal, Bonifacio, Jacinto and Mabini. The values they re-awakened – courage, good example, freedom, kalamigan ng loob, pagtitiis, pagpapahalaga sa kalinisan ng puri, katapatan, the golden rule.
The second effort took place in 1970, at the outbreak of the First Quarter Storm, which led to the declaration of Martial Law. This effort failed because the leadership was regarded as corrupt and manipulative, thus economic imbalance became more pronounced, and divisions within the society widened.
The third effort was triggered by the assassination of Ninoy Aquino in 1983, from which emerged People Power to topple a twenty-year dictatorship.
Our fourth concerted communal effort shall be triggered, is actually being triggered, by COVID-19, a non-human half-life.
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