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An Example of Ranting

Here is a response to Mr. Brotario's rant on my letter that Mr. Butch Dalisay was kind enough to publish in his column last Monday in The Philippine Star. I append my answers to Mr. Brotario's eloquently put thoughts:

Mr. . . . , give it time. Filipinos had little experience with democracy and freedom of speech. Your generation was quieter than ours, yes. But what is the reason of this. Isn't it true that "ranter” (sic.) in your generation are labeled "baliw" and that poor people who react too violently against injustice are summarily executed. When politicians are rowdy and do not listen and talk nonsense, do you complain?


Mr. Brotario, thank you for your response. I, however, disagree on several points you raise here. First of all, I am quite confused with the central message of your letter: are you saying that I should give the youth a break and focus on more important matters? Should I, as what you seem to suggest, keep silent like you and let everybody else rant? Should I address other people, like you and your generation, instead of the youth?


You tell me to give it time because "Filipinos had little experience with democracy and freedom of speech." Perhaps, since we have been a democratic country for more than half a century, that we should wait some more--maybe another fifty, a hundred years?--before we begin to understand what we all have hailed as a revolution in our history and a gift from a god. On the contrary, it has indeed taken too long to actually realize the freedom which your generation and beyond have fought so hard for to win. Obviously, with the state of the country getting worse, you and your generation have not known what to do with what you have so aspired to possess.


You are right when you say that our generation is quieter than yours. Since we can no longer find a devil to burn or a dictator to crucify as you did (Marcos, EDSA, etc.), we, ho-hum, have slipped quietly into the night of careers, luxuries, vanities, etc. But the apprentice can never be too different from the master; we are so because you have taught us to be such. Our indifference and apathy did not come from nowhere; we merely reflect what we see in you and what we see in you is resignation. True, you may be more knowledgeable in political matters, you may understand the ins and outs of the system, and you may be more exposed to the “summary execution” of the poor; but what have you done to change all this aside from merely exposing the country's imperfections and the government’s shortcomings? The youth blabber and rant; you stay silent and do not act. With no model to follow or another path to take, the youth dream of living elsewhere in a foreign land that may provide the hope that you deprive us when you say nothing shall change and that we should “give it some time.”


But when there was injustice in full display in former President Estrada's plunder case in the Senate, who--without second thought--led the way to the streets to rally against injustice? Who now, among others, build houses for the less-privileged autonomously and voluntarily? The youth and not you.

Go on and complain about loud people who talk nonsense. I do too, but sometimes people, especially older people assume the country revolves around their own sense of what's right or wrong. Young people make the same mistake. Old people want peace and quiet in their individual lives and assumes (sic.) the country should enjoy and strive for the same peace and quiet. Isn't this thinking that other people should follow your own mood flawed?


Again, pardon me for my poor intellect as I do not understand what you are saying here. What does having one’s “own sense of what’s right or wrong” have to do with “loud people who talk nonsense?” Let’s pretend that I understand the sense of what you are saying. Perhaps you mean that it is everyman for himself and that some like to rant while others want “peace and quiet?” And, as the logic goes, how should I—an ignorant young man—have the gall to “complain about loud people” when they could do as they please? If that is what you mean, my answer is this:

1) If you read my response carefully, nowhere did I “complain”; I merely described what seemed to me was happening with the youth based on my experience of being a teacher without judgment or blind criticism; all I tried to do was raise a question: What does ranting mean? and what does it tell us about ourselves? I give my own lousy “opinion” towards the end of my response and qualified it with a “perhaps” for no one—least of all myself—can judge the youth or any person in particular. All I offered was another way of looking at the same picture—a particular way that does not pretend to be all-encompassing or without the pretension of it being the “true” or “only” way.

2) And as you should have understood, how can “complaining” on ranting be anything different from ranting itself? That was, to my mind, the last thing I wanted to do: to fall into the same hands by going against it with an other albeit different rant.

3) As to the relativism you propose: that some like it quiet while others not; I find nothing to say. But what strikes me as dangerous is the thinking that “if this is the way I like it,” e.g., quiet or loud, peaceful or exciting, etc., that the country should be projected upon that image. We only have one country but it is true that there are a thousand and one ideologies out there. This is precisely the on-going battle and question—of what model shall this country be an image? But this question must be reflected upon carefully and become open to dialogue—and not just susceptible to the whims of a few in power. I do not propose that anyone follow “my mood” much less follow what I say—who am I ask of anyone such a thing? But, as I clearly stated, all I raise is the challenge, especially for the youth, to constantly reflect, to think, to be aware, to listen, etc. And are these “things” too much to ask from them? Or too much to ask from you, who would rather be kept in the isolation of your peace and quiet?

4) If so, show me how to be still at night after visiting a Payatas. Tell me how to enjoy peace of mind after seeing our mental health facilities. Teach me your peace so I can also learn to be indifferent to this hell of a present. Teach me. I want to learn. So I don’t have to burden myself with thinking anymore.

There are people who speak tough and who avoid good manners (as Butch calls it) at all cost. But there is a point to this. There are people, powerful people so well mannered in public, in cocktail parties, in talk shows but have been responsible for massive injustices. Calm voices is (sic.) great but don't dismiss emotions and morally-inspired judgments altogether, and do not dismiss people younger than you, people who also have the capacity to be calm one time and to be loud the next. You flatter yourself by looking at the younger dimension as two-dimensional. They are not. Maybe you're scared of them or are not scared enough. How about instead of criticizing the youth for its sense of entitlement, criticize the particle (sic.) segment of society that thinks they are entitled to tax payer's money.People who think that because they are powerful, they are entitled to land they do not own. People, etc.


It is not a question of the tonality of our voices or propriety of our speech; it is a question of content, that is, of how much thought we put in our words. A judgment is not mere sound and fury, mere emotion suddenly becoming eloquent or a translation of an unthought and passed-on morality. A judgment is an opinion based on true belief; “true” that it was verified to the best of one’s capabilities; “belief” that it becomes a conviction; and an “opinion” (doxa) that it was what presented itself to the knower or the person. Our language and the words that we speak merely make audible our thoughts; they should be discerned carefully and reflected upon in introspection. My problem with ranting, as I clearly stated in my response, was that it, by definition, is mere blabber and monologue—it does not say anything nor does it talk to anyone. And as such, it does not care for the words it chooses or the message they may carry.


I do not “dismiss people who are younger than (me) who also have the capacity to be calm on time and loud the next.” The reason I addressed and challenged them to think in silence is because I know that they do in fact have the capacity to still think through this Babel of our country. I am appealing to that essential disposition of man; more so, I am appealing to the youth to think while it is early, while they can, while they can make a difference. I do not “flatter myself by looking at the younger dimension as two-dimension,” because, as you said, “they are not.” Again, you contradict yourself: are they two-dimensional or not? Either way, I would disagree; it is the youth who can become many things as they have before them all the possibilities, all the dreams, all the hope. Your generation, with due respect, betray having only one dimension: you with your bureaucratic lives, moving on a monorail toward happiness and success, building fenced houses to keep reality out of view, concerning yourselves with life insurances, car loans, golf and living the “good life.” Success breeds idleness; dreams give birth to hope. Try as you may, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. While the young may have yet to find their trade or craft, it will do them well to think for themselves and what life they could lead than follow your footsteps leading to simulated happiness and therewith boredom.


I am neither “scared of (the youth)” and nor am I “not scared enough” of them. I, if you do not know, am very much part of the youth. I am 27. I am level with them, or even under them—like a teacher who stands on the same ground with his students, or even below them as he gets paid by the students themselves. On the contrary, I admire the youth. Why would I become a teacher if I did not have high hopes for them? Why would I waste my youth on the young if I did not see the possibilities they may bring to this country or even the world? I became a teacher because they can still learn. In contrast, I do not see myself even making a dent on society had I become a lawyer or a politician. I cannot play the games whose rules you made, where everything is supposed to remain on the status quo, where power overpowers understanding, where there is no dialogue, where no one can learn anymore. The youth can still change; I, however, doubt if you still can.


Finally, I admit that I am guilty when you say I criticize the youth. But to “criticize” (Kritik) means to reveal its limits, expose its boundaries to show what it can or cannot do. Only later on does “criticism” mean much like ranting. The positive meaning of criticism is that, while it prohibits something from extending beyond its control and powers, it also at the same time magnifies its capabilities and possibilities.


In that manner, the youth cannot as yet change this society, e.g., challenge a “particle (sic.) segment of society that thinks they are entitled to tax payer's money,” or “people who think that because they are powerful, they are entitled to land they do not own.” They cannot as yet do this not only because they do not have the power or means to do so, but more importantly, because that’s your duty and task—and not yet ours.


But as we wait for your generation to pass on your duties and responsibilities to us, all I ask for the youth is to prepare themselves while waiting, to think while they still can, to imagine while they have not yet fallen on the ground, to listen while they can still learn, and finally to speak in the hope that someday, you and your generation, may take heed and finally listen no longer to our rants but to our voice.


If that is what you meant by my criticism of the youth, then I am not only guilty as charged but I did that with full intent.

Comments

  1. "Old people want peace and quiet in their individual lives and assumes (sic.) the country should enjoy and strive for the same peace and quiet. Isn't this thinking that other people should follow your own mood flawed?"

    I'm sorry for the grammatical mistake, which must have thrown off every sense in the sentence and the sentence following. What I meant a person's usual demand that the world conforms to their current mood, i.e. older people want peace and quiet and want the world around them to do the same.

    If that sentence is an example of ranting, is it fair to assume that you think hip-hop and rap is a form of ranting as well? Perhaps I am making a wrong analogy here. Isn't ranting pointless? Then why even respond to it. I hope I am not overstepping the courtesy that you have extended to me of cross-posting from penmanila's blog. As you might have heard from the owner, I was banned. But allow me to further deal with the matter in better and simpler English.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You: "I am quite confused with the central message of your letter: are you saying that I should give the youth a break and focus on more important matters?"

    Hm. I haven't been too clear, have I? I do apologize for not taking my audience into account when I comment on blogs. But my meaning is this: it seems suspect that out of all the things Butch Dalisay has to complain about, he chooses to "rant" against the youth. It is suspect. Why do I use the word "suspect"? I use "suspect" because it is unclear to me the moral underpinnings of such a harangue coming from Mr. Dalisay. Why bother with the youth's hot air. Why get irritated by their over-enthusiastic behavior. In Mr. Dalisay's column, the youth don't just have hot air and aren't just over-enthusiastic, they are ignorant, petty and are out of touch with reality. According to Mr. Dalisay their sense of entitlement is out of proportion. My thinking is, it is Dalisay's meanness that is out of proportion.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "he youth blabber and rant; you stay silent and do not act."

    Again, thanks for your time. I can't read back to my post, unfortunately, but I try to be concise. If I can just repeat what I just said:

    That Mr. Dalisay chooses to spend two columns on "ranting" raises a lot of question. I'm also surprised that many people are of similar mind.

    ReplyDelete

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