Obviously, I am posting this because I care, really a much abused word these days that even our “Jesuit” mentors seem rushy about its aboriginal application. Care for what? Good question. Let me say this linear that this is not so much about a powerpoint ways to personal conversion. Personal change is always a very personal project and pitfalls, painful as they are along the way, are going to skin us off. We all go through this serpentine derma shedding off, and more often for people who are taking the project with purpose.
Simply, what I’ll post are 3 lessons culled from your invaded privacy, turning you into an open sacrificial lamb this time. As much as I can, I try not to be repetitive of the points from the thorough reflection and analysis of Bluepanjeet.
Lesson 1: We remain a country of stark contrast – the affluent and the destitute among us – BMWs and bicycles traversing almost the same clogged avenues; the bejewelled rich and the cash-strapped poor at times mingling in Divisoria. Social flow seems to show some peaceful co-existence because in reality, we don’t really get to ask each other’s assets in church pews. But wait, let’s skin off social status a bit because underneath is a set of mentalities, of a dashboard of social conditionings on how to behave socially. You are not exempt from those social conditionings. Save from the modest moneyed ones, children of chic families like you must have grown up sanitized by the tidy, the glittery, the expensive, the trendy. The length of the sanitizing process is equal to the weight of unloading them in case situations, often imposed or accidental, call for it. But why this equation, you may ask? Because social conditioning can actually shape our brain. It’s called neuroplasticity to be technical, on how our brain neurons are “plastic” or flexible enough to all external conditionings. I suspect Ateneo has the nerve to teach this basic sociological concept basing on the fact that the very “immersion program,” premature as it is for your poor social conscience intelligence, is the same program that has brought you and the rest among us into this golden opportunity for self-reflection and growth.
Lesson 2: Indigenous communities such as our Aeta brothers and sisters or the Mamanwas of Northern Mindanao, live in a world full of meanings, some open to us, some disrupted by us “schooled,” and some quite inaccessible to us regardless of the number of immersions we go through. I remember spending one “Christmas day” with the Mamanwas in my hometown and was a bit amused to see how a second hand donated refrigerator was turned into a closet. Frozen food is something alien to their world of meanings, to their concept of food “fresh from the field”. So you went to live with the Aetas, bringing your bags of fuddy-buddy upbringing. You pour out your beans, surely much to the consternation of your host family, and then stubbornly show them that even your clothes were made of it. I couldn’t blame you: it takes years to shake them off. The sad thing is to judge their clothing with the “standard” that you wear. This seems to be the law of the universe: that my own harsh judgment of others could recoil, always, into some personal suffering.
Lesson 3: To backtrack to lesson 1 on the great divide in this country, I surmise you are not alone in this class of mentality. Material convenience rather than meaning, is the Holy Grail for many, only to realize at every pit stop of the search that it is self-hurting, other-hurting. Now, you have given a voice and a “face” through a trendy medium, though detestable if self-righteousness and judgment must remain the standard. But this is not why the Child was born – to add to the rigor of the 600-plus Mosaic laws – but to show that Love towers above the Law, above judgment. Self-forgiveness, believing that material blessings are bestowed from Heaven, the endless potential to be good and be God-like, I believe these are some of the faces of Love. In the midst of the social stigma, you and the rest among us “sisterhood and brotherhood of the travelling pants,” could actually model the travel to authenticity. Zaccheus did. My Christmas wish for you.
Photo credit: Matanglawin