From a vantage point

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

Vantage Point | Photo by Bridget Leyendecker via Wikimedia Commons

It helps and is truly necessary to be aware of the greater humanity beyond our shores. For the less fortunate, with much fewer options than others, it may seem that life in a small circle is all they must concentrate on. It would also seem that other matters beyond their fears, families, and livelihood are largely irrelevant. I cannot blame them for a narrow perspective, as their material lives are trapped within very limited boundaries.

However, the narrow view and understanding is precisely the hole from which most of mankind has been trying to get out for centuries. The primitive environment kept humanity in darkness due to immobility and ignorance. Modernity had been the main goal and ambition. Anyone who knows what life was just 200 years ago can be astounded by the remarkable visible change that has occurred since then.

Here we are early in the 21st century, not exactly a young species anymore. From our behavior, however, humanity is nowhere near its maturity – with few exceptions. On the whole, wisdom does not define us, not even against ourselves in the measurable past. Sadly, wisdom remains elusive; we only have different levels of primitiveness.

What is happening in Africa, allegedly the cradle of human birth, as far as archaeology and dating technology go? Africa’s long human life history does not seem a steady and inspiring model. How about Asia? Following the violent drama of human life in several countries, how modern are we in thinking and behaving?

Europe does not seem to be substantially different. It is not only Eastern Europe in the throes of suffering. Even its western counterpart as it faces little supply of gas and energy itself. Yet, they furiously supply war materials to a besieged Ukraine bombarded by Russia. At the very least, their environment is precarious.

The Middle East – ah, how long has it been in turmoil, and when will it ever rest? Not in the foreseeable future, of course. I do not think so, and reading or listening to others appears they do not think so either.

North America is not having a picnic either. The world’s greatest country used to be the United States – but for what reason? Definitely not because Americans are wise and intelligent, not if we watch them on Fox News and CNN create chasms of red and blue.

Let us not examine too closely its neighboring continent, South America, either. Less news is not good because its foundation is already fragile. Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, and others are not enjoying peace and prosperity but will need the coming Christmas season to pray precisely for that.

Australia seems to be relatively unthreatened in a major way, and small internal disagreements and a pesky climate pattern would be its challenges. Standing far from the rest of the world has helped it emerge as a model for stability. Its politicians only have to be friendlier and more cooperative with one another.

” I believe the Philippines is a country in deep trouble. What is obvious is that the world is also in deep trouble. That is not an excuse for the mess we have made for ourselves. “

I believe the Philippines is a country in deep trouble. What is apparent is that the world is also in deep trouble. That is not an excuse for the mess we have made for ourselves. But it is equally valid that the mess of the world makes our mess even more terrible than it already is.

I feel once too often that I cannot enjoy good news when my attention is on pain of those in poverty. With over 20 years of involvement in anti-poverty and anti-hunger work within the greater sphere of community development advocacy, I may see the worst things from a personal and close-up view. I know that daily sources of small victories light up the lives of Filipinos, and I must lean on them for my sustenance.

My angst centers on a personal wish, a necessary and doable possibility, that the marginalized and the hungry do not have to be so. It needs a clear vision, a determined prioritization in their favor, and a political will backed up by a societal agreement that our nation and government take this commitment.

Our poverty is inherited, just like feudalism imposed by foreign conquerors. We did have our own datu system from our history and culture, autocratic it may seem. Yet, that same type of governance was paternal and familial, where the ruler was not a conqueror but a father, uncle, grandfather, or granduncle. However, feudalism from colonialism made the strangers’ governance cold, cruel, and utterly practical. It succeeded in subjugating the people by using select native leaders to impose administration and neutralize community resentment.

That meant that the Spanish, British, and the Japanese conquest of Filipinos involved the betrayal of some of our native leaders. This betrayal is a cross we continue to carry, a curse that continues to strangulate us. It is not the greed and ambition of others that hurt the most; it is the betrayal of our own.

My exposure to international dynamics and a memory that has long been used to thread relevant people and events from history makes me conscious that others, too, find ways to put their feet in their mouths or shoot themselves in the foot. We are not alone and must strive to learn from our mistakes and theirs.

I am not a troll or a blind partisan who only parrots the employer’s line. I have long accepted to co-exist with others with different or contrasting viewpoints. For my sanity and soulful purposes, though, I have chosen the paths I wish to follow and the values I want to live by. And if that means resisting trolls, bigots, mercenaries, and, worst of all, the morons along the way, so be it.

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