The simplicity of reasons*

people's eye

people’s eye

WE become what we read, says Teddy, the Philippine’s smartest man.

The thought that this theory was true somehow scared me. Yes, I am a sort of a reader but not exactly an exemplary one.

Elementary school years were mostly spent on reading textbooks and science manuals — reading materials that were aptly supplemented by an up-to-date hoard of Kislap, Hiwaga, Darna, Wakasan and the rest of the Komiks inventory.

There were also komiks to be read from our poskard or teks. But gathering a chronologically perfect stash of a playing card series was quite hard unless you were always on a winning streak.

When I was in high school, I didn’t have money to buy books so my library was whatever book my friends had in their shelves; or whatever we could collectively afford to buy from the then famous Popular Bookstore; or whatever was under the bed of whoever’s father.

The stuff that came from under the bed were always the good stuff but they were needed to be returned promptly and, must be returned, in the same state as your hands touched them.

(Well, some might recognize that “the stuff under the bed thing” sounded like a worn-out comic line. But what can we do? It was true then, it is true now, and funny still.)

I lost some friends for not being able to keep my word. And I lost some more friends simply because I was an avid reader, penniless and clumsy at the same time.

My intellect therefore is earned through some great losses in life.

Simplicity, says Teddy, is for simpletons.

I tried many times to decipher the meaning of this statement in the context of what was happening in my homeland but it was too deep, I drowned.

Simplicity, a word that I used to revere so much has just been tainted. I’ll never be able to use it again in my sentences in the same way when I treated that word like a virtuous woman.

Teddy’s prescription to fellow Filipinos was brutally simple (or simplistic?): Shut up and step aside. Otherwise, we’ll miss the train (or train systems?) to Shangri-la.

Well just in case, I mean if things wouldn’t turn out well, Shanghai doesn’t seem to be a bad place to be.

Around 2,000 years ago, there was a very controversial trial. It was reported on all four Canonical gospels of the New Testament. That was a time when human life was way, way undervalued. But despite that, Jesus Christ — who was accused of blasphemy and other high crimes — was afforded a trial.

Presumption of innocence is a not simple idea but apparently people of those olden days already got it. Otherwise, what was the point of putting Jesus on a trial?

Those people also understood that evidences were needed to prove guilt. Otherwise, what was the point of those testimonies and cross-examination?

No matter how farce Jesus’ trial went, at the very least, the requirement of “due process” was observed.

I don’t know about the warrantless arrest. It could have been legal during those times. But of course, I object to the form of punishment meted on Jesus. It was so inhuman. But there were no human rights activists at that time to protest it.

Anyway, Jesus rose from dead. Christianity became an idea, and later on, a religion. And many, many years soon after, numerous Christians realized that Jesus’s death consecrated human life. Thus, they became avid defenders of life — a belief that they extend even to the unborn.

Largely, Christians came to believe in the power of love and in the concept of non-violent activism in pursuing societal changes. Too, many Christians embraced the truth of redemption.

I don’t know what would Christianity have looked like today if not for Saint Paul’s redemption.

Now, let me go back again to another point in time. Not very long ago, just 44 years ago. A president started a dictatorship. His intentions might have been noble but we all know what happened. His regime was toppled and its fall was celebrated around the world.

Twenty years of dictatorship and countless people got confused about the concept of three branches of government with equal and separate powers — that a president is only king in his turf and not everywhere in government.

Somewhere, someplace we’ve heard this said: Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The origin was John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton or Lord Acton, in short. In his letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887, Lord Acton said:

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

Well, it was not from any book that I read. I just googled it.

My conclusion therefore: You don’t empower men. You empower the laws. You empower the institutions. And that is the kind of change that we can trust our lives on, the kind of change that will live on to the future.







* The opinion of this author is his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.

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