Self-Reliance- or go and wash your dishes

by jun asuncion
The problem in Bulan  (and in the Philippines as a whole) is the figureoriented politics. This system  does not guarantee the much needed continuity of development for it’s always dependent on who is seating now in power. Furthermore, the people is  deprived of the chance to develp self-reliance. For centuries, they have been made dependent (reliant) and nailed  to an infantile stage. But not without their own doings ( People of Bulan had always been  a part the totality of events but seemed to have always missed the train).They argue for example, that if he or she had become the mayor and not this or  that person, then maybe Bulan would have been  a progressive town since then. But for how long progressive? For the next 4 or 8 years (assuming re-elected) ? Afterwards back to the same old state of poverty and stagnancy in case the next one elected has other views or priorities and an ”enemy” of the former. People will start complaining again about poverty, snail-pace development, poor basic services, etc., the usual fare. Now their leader is gone and people is left with no orientation, they don’t know anymore what to do to survive, like a small child, helpless, when the mother is away.They blame everything to the circumstances that led to their misery and the list of misfortune  is long. It is not surprising to hear lamentations like “yeah, the town is now dirty since the good mayor is gone”. But, what has the mayor something to do with my house-front that’s  full with litters, when the beaches are swimming in garbage, when my stall in the market is dirty? When you hear such things, the diagnosis is simple: dependency, underdevelopment and absence of self-reliance. In short, immaturity. The collective mind is still in its infancy. Lamenting  about a catastrophe doesn’t help an inch, but if you take up your shovel and start to work then you have done already a big thing to yourself and to you neighbor. We don’t need to fill up our government with Lamas (nothing against Lama, a daughter of his was a dear classmate of mine in the former CIC)  and self-relying Japanese stragglers ( are there still some of them out there in Sta. Remedios?) in order to function. A self-reliant society doesn’t necessarily need these figures to tell them how they should live. In most  do-it-yourself-societies (self-reliant) , people elect their leaders mainly to do the “secretarial” and “representational” works for them and they can practically function without a mayor or a president ( This explains why in some places people don’t even know their own president,  much-less the  whole world.)  Everyone is self-sufficient, disciplined and responsible, skilled and  maximizer. A maximizer turns any situation or function to its highest possibility-or in some cases, to a work of art ; a small balcony becomes a flower and tomato garden, every inch of a small piece of land behind the house is used to produce, an old piece of wood becomes a nice piece of ornament. So things really get going. Self-reliance leads to creativity and deep reflections. A dependent being is weak and crippled, devoid of creativity, helpless. Such is a society which has not learned to do -it-herself. A helpless being is vulnerable to manipulation and slavery. Such is the destiny of a society, it will  perinially  have to do with dictators and corrupt government officials. In most cases, it’s the people who place them in power and the same people can not bring them out again the moment things get wild in the mayor’s office. That’s the destiny the society will always be facing as long it is not yet mature,- or refuses to be responsible. It doesn’t want commitment and hasn’t got the courage to take up the matter in its own hand. I consider somebody already ripe when he begins to  perceive his  responsibility. When  after eating he washes his dishes, then he is ripe, – self reliant, irrespective of age. When a child does his homework without being told, then he is self-reliant ( For this means his parents trained him to be one ). These little things we do (or do not do) in our daily life reflect the nature of the whole  society back to us right between our eyes. One good thing is that maturity is a decision matter, a question of definition. When  I decide I am now responsible then I will begin to pattern my action accordingly. On a personal level, it is  possible to happen just like that- in a wink of an eye. For the whole society to wake up one morning and decide ” now I’m mature and responsible”- this is wishful-thinking. It would require maybe a gigantic bolt of lightning to strike Bulan one night so that when it wakes up the next morning it will decide this way and begins to pattern it’s actions as such. This would mean: Freedom from corruption and corrupt public officials, guaranteed rights, justice,  better living standard, entrepreneurship, adequate basic services, functioning economy, peace,  independence, self-respect and pride. The list of good things would be  long this time. Back to reality, that will not happen that way and it’s far from my wish that this kind of lightning should strike my town Bulan. This is a long process, and if we had missed the course for countless of years, then let’s say we will start right now becoming responsible, at least among us  readers of this blog. Stand up, be strong and responsible, show it to others, but  above all to yourself. It’s only in united action that we can effect a better change in the place we all treasure- our town Bulan. Before you click out, did you wash your dishes today?
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