Wednesday, April 27, 2011

From The Well and the Shallows

I love reading G.K. Chesterton. It is common knowledge that he is witty and has a great command of language. But more than those, I admire him for his understanding--his writing is steeped in a deep understanding of what it truly means to be a human being, a child of God, and how to live in a world where people would have you believe otherwise. I want to understand as he does. (And I wish I can write so beautifully, too.) He is a genius.

I'm re-posting an excerpt from an essay of his, which I have already posted way back in 2008. I think that we should constantly (and objectively) seek the Truth, especially now, when the media culture makes pollution/noise just as accessible as the brain/heart food we really need. In the excerpt below, GKC talks about why he despises birth control, and mindset that goes with it:

"...But there is a third reason for my contempt, much deeper and therefore more difficult to express; in which is rooted all my reasons for being anything I am or attempt to be; and above all, for being a Distributist. Perhaps the nearest to a description of it is to say this: that my contempt boils over into bad behaviour when I hear the common suggestion that a birth is avoided because people want to be 'free' to go to the cinema or buy a gramophone or a loud-speaker. What makes me want to walk over such people like doormats is that they use the word 'free.' By every act of that sort they chain themselves to the most servile and mechanical system yet tolerated by men. The cinema is a machine for unrolling certain regular patterns called pictures; expressing the most vulgar millionaires' notion of the taste of the most vulgar millions. The gramophone is a machine for recording such tunes as certain shops and other organisations choose to sell. The wireless is better; but even that is marked by the modern mark of all three; the impotence of the receptive party. The amateur cannot challenge the actor; the householder will find it vain to go and shout into the gramophone; the mob cannot pelt the modern speaker, especially when he is a loud-speaker. It is all a central mechanism giving out to men exactly what their masters think they should have.

"Now a child is the very sign and sacrament of personal freedom. He is a fresh free will added to the wills of the world; he is something that his parents have freely chosen to produce and which they freely agree to protect. They can feel that any amusement he gives (which is often considerable) really comes from him and from them and from nobody else. He has been born without the intervention of any master or lord. He is a creation and a contribution; he is their own creative contribution to creation. He is also a much more beautiful, wonderful, amusing and astonishing thing than any of the stale stories or jingling jazz tunes turned out by the machines. When men no longer feel that he is so, they have lost the appreciation of primary things, and therefore all sense of proportion about the world. People who prefer the mechanical pleasures, to such a miracle, are jaded and enslaved. They are preferring the very dregs of life to the first fountains of life. They are preferring the last, crooked, indirect, borrowed, repeated and exhausted things of our dying Capitalist civilisation, to the reality which is the only rejuvenation of all civilisation. It is they who are hugging the chains of their old slavery; it is the child who is ready for the new world.


Ang ganda, 'no?
Before I hibernate again to continue writing my assignments, here's a quote from GKC that perhaps we should take up as a challenge.... Let's prove it untrue! :-)

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting;
it has been found difficult and left untried."

Friday, April 22, 2011

'Hindi umaayaw'

If you listen to AM radio, you must've already heard the advertisement for vitamins that uses the title of this post as a tagline, and you know that their image model is no other than Robin Padilla. The whole point of the ad is to say that Robin can do all that he does (and even be locked up in jail) because he never backs out, or if you take the tagline literally, he doesn't say no. And he doesn't have to say no to anything because his vitamins give him the energy to do it all! Hooray!

I get the point of not wanting to back out of anything--especially when it comes to work. The ad is talking to people in blue collar jobs and appealing to their yearning to easily put in more hours at work so they can have more income to bring home. In that case, not backing out is a good thing.

I brought this up because I want to focus on something quite the opposite, which is being able to say No. It's ridiculous to go, I never say No. Sure, that's obvious when it comes to things that can get you in trouble, land you in jail, etc., however, there are also other less obvious things that merit saying no to; and because we are thinking people, we should know when these occasions are.

Have you ever heard anyone say: "You can afford it, why not?" or "It's your right to do what you want," and other phrases of the same line of thought? In this get-everything-you-want-NOW kind of world, that seems to be the dominant philosophy. Dominant, though, doesn't necessarily equate to "good for you," and no matter how much of a right you have to drown yourself in junk food, junk media, or junk philosophies, you realize sooner or later that you are not happy drowning in the same after a while. All this yes-ing can get tiring; worse, you come out of it not learning anything at all.

That's one of the things I find wanting in a contraceptive mindset. It's all yes-ing without stopping to think about what's good for anybody, let alone what's good for the self. People can go on harping about their rights as if there's such a thing as rights without responsibility, but it doesn't change the fact that each one of us needs to learn to say No, too.

I find it puzzling how some people applaud the Japanese for their great self-mastery and selflessness, and then trumpet their support for some bill that teaches the Filipinos to throw to the winds those very same virtues. My think: why is self-mastery considered noble when you're in a crisis of Ondoy proportions, but not very valuable in the bedroom?

It's the same virtue: if you can say No in the privacy of your home--say No to lazing around, say No to your vices (you know what those are), say No to putting off spring cleaning to another day, say No to comforts (chocolate?) once in a while--then you will be able to say No when you step outside: hold back that rage when an impudent taxi driver cuts you on the road, avoid succumbing to a BIG SALE that you don't need to be in, call a rain check when your friends are not being prudent about their time and yours....

You may be thinking: how KJ naman to have to say No to so many things! But keep in mind that every No to one thing is a Yes to something else, and something better for that matter. You say No to laziness, you say Yes to accomplishing things. A No to one more bar of chocolate is a Yes to good health, and perhaps to sharing that extra bar with someone else, too. No to the BIG SALE means Yes to saving up for a style piece that you'll get more wear out of later on.

And of course, every well-thought-out No is a brick in that house called character, which constantly needs fortifying, given the fickleness of our "open-minded" world. You gotta learn to say No conscientiously. You gotta think well and hard before you give your Yes to anything. That's good character. That's self-mastery.

...besides, whoever takes "hindi umaayaw" as a compliment better brush up on colloquial Filipino--isn't that the description right next to "Utu-uto"?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Words for the ladies, a tipsheet

I learned a new word the other week: Loquacious. It sounds attractive, even smart, but it really isn't a compliment, if ever you were described that way.

Loquacity means talking too much--not in the sense that you're talkative (because there are really those people with the gift of gab), but in the sense that you're talking without thinking about the implications of your words. Who cares how you come across, or whether what you said was a little exaggerated, or on whose reputation you sling the mud. You just gab away, and enjoy the attention!

How does a lady avoid the trap of loquacity? (I find that amusing--"trap of loquacity" haha!). Here, five tips.

1. Learn to hold that tongue. Think before you speak. Sure, if you've the gift of holding interesting conversations, it can be hard sometimes, and then there's the fear that you may end up looking like you don't have any ideas to share. But, a lady who doesn't think before she speaks can easily end up saying something offensive or untrue.

2. If something really needs to be said, correct don't criticize.
And give it in private. Don't say, "You're wrong!" but kindly suggest a way for your friend to do things better. For example, a friend is having a bad hair day (month, year?). You don't say, "Mahangin ba sa labas?" or "Ang pangit ng buhok mo," instead invite her to the salon or suggest a good haircut that you think will look good on her.

3. Think of how you will feel if something you said about someone is said about you, too.
We ladies love talking about other people, but a little restraint sets apart the ladies from the mere females. Always be kind when talking about people you know, and when something negative is mentioned about them, take it with a grain of salt. You don't have to believe it, unless there is hard proof that it's true. Even then, you must be kind to that person!

4. Assume the good in everyone.
It is every lady's duty to assume the good in other people, because it is everyone's right to claim a good name and reputation. (And of course, you want others to be careful with your good name too!)

5. Always speak the truth!
When you're in the middle of telling a really good story, it's probably tempting to add little details that would enhance the story, but make it a little untrue. While it may seem harmless, or may actually be harmless, you're teaching your mouth to be careless. Who knows what worse exaggerations (or would you console yourself calling it half truths?) you'll be capable of if you keep that up? Remember, big lies come from many little ones. Practice makes perfect--haha!


"Those who think it is permissible to tell white lies soon grow color-blind." -Austin O'Malley

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Letter to my blog

Dear Blog,

I'm sorry I haven't been writing. I have been missing weekends lately, something seems to be eating them. And I have been getting sick, and whenever I would sit in front of my computer it would only be to finish writing something else.

Rest assured that I do have many plans for you, and I have some post ideas in store (which just need to be disentangled somewhere in brain-land), and many pictures to share (if I finally have the time to transfer them to my computer). I just want to say that very soon, I will be churning out more great, wonderful, super-duper (?!) insights for the world to consume at their own leisure.

And this be very very soon.