Doing Things Right and Doing the Right Thing



By Oliver Geronilla


 Most of the columns that I write for dailies and the articles that I turn in here at BO dwell on empirical matters that reflect our current state of affairs including, of course, my take on them.

For the columns that I write or co-write for newspapers, I get paid. For the articles I write for BO, I don’t get paid, but I feel elated. In both cases, I do my best to turn out highly credible and well-written commentaries. That’s my pledge, my commitment to the art of writing. And that, for me, is the right thing to do, isn’t it?

 Here at BO, after reading some pieces or comments, observers can opt to do many things. In fact, they have a wide range of alternatives to choose from in order to express their views on what they read and perceive. They can talk about them with their neighbors, their colleagues, their friends, and their family members; they can also keep a journal; or they can even “harness” BO as a platform to share their thoughts and ideas. After all, it is a “place” where such observations can be expressed and hopefully read and understood by the readers.

 Talking about reading, we all know that there are what we call passive readers and active readers. Both of them are observers, but not both of them are active participant-observers. When participation takes place, that observer joins the discussion by giving comments and suggestions or by writing articles. Mr. Jess Guim is a good example of an active participant-observer. He does not simply pontificate, he practices what he preaches.

 We have more examples of active participant-observers who have graced the electronic pages of BO with their well-thought-out articles. Sometimes, you see them, sometimes you don’t. Just like good neighbors, we refrain from being intrusive, from giving unnecessary provocation, from being snooty. We just give them all the space and time that they need; and in some rare occasions, we coax “observers” to say their piece in a unified prose. Alas, only a few have risen to that challenge. Do I have qualms about that? No, I don’t. Not even an iota.

 That’s doing the right thing.

 Going back to the subject of writing, we know that normally, effective writers are good observers. But are good observers also effective writers? Your guess is as good as mine. Writing style is a matter of taste. Effective writing is a matter of discipline; it reflects erudition; it promotes learning. There’s no single formula towards achieving fluidity in prose. Otherwise, it’d be like math where precision and accuracy reign.

 Writing should not be confused with the rules of grammar or diction. Writing is the end-result of our experiences, both professional and personal.

 So, my question is: why do we give pieces of advice on the ropes of writing when some of us have not even shown a proof of what constitutes “good writing”? Remember, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

 Our discussion on “writing” has drawn many comments from our readers. I just don’t see the need to tell others what to do. Even in writing workshops, we try to do away from giving run-of-the-mill suggestions. What we usually do is to encourage and guide participants to express themselves more succinctly without sacrificing clarity and content. And this entails practice and professional training. That’s doing things right.

 I am a writer, and I know what it takes to be one. For the serious ones, writing is a highly cerebral artistic expression; for the uninitiated, it is nothing but a mere form of human communication.

 Sadly, I can see a correlation between the issues we’ve tackled here about writing and the issues that haunt the kind of politics and politicians that we have in Bulan. They share the same problem.

 We always seem to know what is right. We always tell them what to do. And when we don’t get what we want, we raise a hue and cry about them.

 But can we blame them? Can you blame us? Until now, the LGU appears to have been under a spell of silence. Its PIO has remained mum about my queries. Is this the right thing to do? Is he doing things right? My blind horse neighs. Is it because I am just crying wolf? Beats me.

 Well, Mr. Gilana is an able participant-observer. And he is a good writer too. That is sure as God made little green apples. But what happened? Has he been reduced to silence with my questions?

 I am sometimes tempted to give him unsolicited advice—to do this, to do that. But that is simply not me. And that is not the right thing to do.