Bias for a bright future

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

Jose M. Montelibano

Lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness is a personal goal I have adopted for several years. It was not so for many decades before. I was like most other people who are quick to criticize, not from malice, but from simply seeing something that is wrong. Criticism had also been expressed in quite private settings, usually in intimate or friendly settings. Barbershop talk, kwentohan, chismisan.

Many can still remember how it was before the internet and social media. We talk about anything and everything only in physical proximity. Those who are even older remember how the dictatorship made rumor-mongering punishable by law. Because even in an authorization state, people talk, people criticize, people go rumor-mongering. When people are intimidated to limit their freedom to speak their mind, resentment brews very quickly. The frustration builds up and it’s only a matter of time before an implosion or explosion.

It is sad when the only options left for concerned citizens is fearful silence or violent rebellion. But for a long time, that was all we had, hemmed in by a conservative society or worse – an authoritarian regime. I remember the implosion and explosion, the People Power revolution and the freedom of the press. From being reined in tightly too often licentious freedom, the pendulum exploded in a wild swing.

It will never be quiet in a society that had both struggled with a central authority and resigned to it from a history of submission. It cannot be quiet when the inner spirit is gasping for air, so to speak. It is not the new generations of Filipino, it is the new generations of the world. Where the young generations have been allowed and supported by their home countries, their technological advances are light years ahead of ours. Where countries and their authorities clamp down hard on the creative and technical dynamism of their young, militant dissent has been the patterned response.

As peoples and nations go through their respective transitions from centralized to democratic, from conservative to liberal, from fear to aspiration, each will experience the traditional holding on for continued control, or for dear life if changed has already taken root. Some move very fast while others seem as not moving at all. But whatever the pace of change, real change is happening. It is not driven by personality although some may be more known than others. Rather, it is driven by the new and emerging generations. It changes whose time has come and nothing can stand in its way and win. It is aided by attrition, by older generations fading fast and new generations continuously coming on stream.

It is important that we understand how evolution expresses itself. It does not mean that we, collectively, cannot influence how evolution unfolds. Of course, we can. Yet, even as we participate, we are not in total control. There is a direction towards which life moves. There is a manner by which it moves from era to era. We dance with evolution. We do not dictate to it nor it to us. We have to recognize, though, that evolution is about life, and life is bigger than all of us human beings on earth. If we do not appreciate this, we can unwittingly go against a tidal wave and end up a broken loser, ending up following the pace and tenor of evolution after all.

I address myself to those who are holding on to dreams of a bright or brighter future. I want to tell them that dark clouds often hover above us, often blocking out the sunlight. But dark and heavy the clouds may be, sunlight is there and sunlight will emerge. Our journey is towards the light, not away from it. If the light is blocked by incidents or personalities, it is temporary. There is a bigger game in town, the game of the future, a future that seeks the light and will force open the clouds that block it. It is the era of knowledge, of freedom, of innovation. Change is not a passive blob, it is a dynamic dragon.

The only ones who can reverse the trend are the new generations who will collectively allow themselves to abdicate their mandate and instead submit to their parent generations. This is, in my opinion, unthinkable, as if they will go against their nature. That is why I will gamble, anytime, in the direction of the younger generations whatever distractions, political, economic or otherwise, get in the way. I know there are many of them. At the same time, there have been, in the Philippines, at least, all these distractions but they never succeeded in becoming a serious block to evolution led by the fresh thinking of the young, expressed most graphically by technological advances and more radical mindset.

What I see is a strong bias for a bright future. All the more when I see the ugliness and darkness in our surroundings, I see only a desperate struggle of the fading past to maintain dominance and control. I am not even unduly optimistic, simply endowed with a context of the past which contained even more ugliness and darkness. I see also a process by which change transformed the past, transforms the present, and surely will bring about a future that is closer to the human angst for relief from pain, the human dream for that which is better. Perhaps, I see in my children and grandchildren what I had often wished for myself. How else, then, can there be no bias for the future?

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