Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fairness, Silver Spoon, and Working Hands

More often than not, we encounter people that are blessed financially. Sometimes, they’re not limited to places like Forbes Park, Corinthian Garden, and the likes. We call them names or terms like born with a silver spoon, señorito/señorita/doña/don, and anak mayaman. In fact, maybe one of them is your colleague, friend, or classmate. That person’s a bit out of place mainly because he is, well, blessed. We don’t refer to the people with famous surnames. We refer to people who parents worked hard to the point that they finished their college education (even graduate/law/medical/business school) because their parents worked hard and as a result, were financially blessed. They’re seemingly blessed even on workplace. Their good work ethic is accompanied with being a person with likeable factor (not necessarily popular). Their names may not ring a bell on high society circle, but their needs are met just fine. They earn their respect like a breeze, although it’s not merely because of nepotism or other negative reasons. They just seemed…lucky.

On the other side, we know a handful of “wounded warriors”. They have a colorful life that they can utilize if they wanted to run for public office. Their childhood can be seen as tragic. Their student years are, well, tough, because they need to work in order to pay for their tuition, not to mention their other expenses. In the workplace, they work their way to the top. With these experiences, he earned the respect. Indeed, a champion despite adversities of this life.

Now, amidst the audience (or the people who don’t want to belong in these two categories for whatever reason) these two types of people meet in a workplace or some place. More often than not, we sided with “Mr. Working Hands” in a soap opera fashion. Whether we admit it or not, if “Mr. Silver Spoon” accomplishes something, we just dismissed it. I like to put it in Tagalog: hindi natin na-aapreciate gaano dahil kasi diumano ay mayaman siya. We often say similar terms, not the exact words, like, “He submitted the papers early because he has maids at home” or “He is the son of this and that. He has connections.” After all, a typical Filipino loves “underdogs”.

This is somewhat tragic on the part of Mr. Silverspoon. Is it his fault if ever God blessed his family? Is it his fault if ever his education and further education were financed by his parents? Is it his fault if he has “soft hands” – an epitome of so-called laziness? Admit it or not, instead of acknowledging God’s grace on Mr. Working Hands, we give credit solely on that person, like it’s Mr. Silver Spoon’s fault. We’re not including all Mr. Working Hands, but when they see Mr. Silverspoon accomplishing something, we can’t comprehend why, even to the point of asking God if He’s fair or not. Worse than that, we may even question God’s existence because of that!

Allow yours truly to give some things to ponder, if you like to ponder. Let us remember that not all people that are blessed financially accomplish something good. It’s all about good stewardship. He was blessed with finances and other gifts, he just knows how to use it properly. Because of our negative attitude towards “These Lucky Individuals”, we eventually become what we despised the most – boastful, arrogant individuals. Arrogant of our own suffering, like a soldier proud of his battle wounds, rather than acknowledging God or Life’s fairness for giving you the wisdom to work it out at the end of the day.

Amidst all this, God is still fair. There is a purpose why a person is born with a silver spoon, and why another person is born to work hard. Let us give one, somewhat close-to-the-writer’s-heart-reason: there are Mr. Underappreciated Ones and Unappreciated Ones who are also Mr. Silverspoons. Just because we think they’re blessed, they don’t need the comfort. As an effect, that person never receives a simple “hi”. In my opinion, what we see as silver spoon is just life’s way of saying, “you didn’t appreciate the person for who he is, here’s for an equalizer”. Life has an equation indeed. Even if it’s hard to comprehend, God or life (if you loathed God) has been fair to Mr. Working Hands. Because of his hard work, chances are, he gained the respect of the people around him. He may not be that materially blessed, but he commands hard earned respect. God has been fair also to Mr. Working Hands. Because of his adversities, God has given him the wisdom, intelligence, even physical will and strength to accomplish things.

Again, there is a purpose why a person is born with a silver spoon, and why another person is born to work hard. The bottom line is for God to be glorified at the end of the day. The bottom line is for us to see how God’s grace abounds, especially to His people.

Thank you very much.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The "patamaan" complex

When Facebook became popular in the Philippines, it changes the lives not most of Filipino youngsters, but also of the adults. Why not? It's a social networking site. Since man is a social being, even the shiest person can't get enough. In fact, there are some shy people I know who speaks out loud via this site. Friends, relatives, siblings that never saw each other for years were reunited. Thanks to Facebook.

Now, since this is a social networking site, it creates a community. Since it creates a community, it normally follows that societies are formed. However, with growing community comes conflict. Since you can't punch, slap here, the best thing a person can do is to write conflict escalating words. However, in order to avoid charges, a person will just write conflict escalating words that will hit a person. In Tagalog, it's "nagpaparinig" or in the Cavite, "nanghahamit". This phenomena also happens in Christians. Normally, this "patamaan" is common among teenagers, working single professionals, and newly married people.

Now, let me just give the rationale why is this phenomena happen. Facebook is a virtual community. Normally, with community, it follows that society is being made here, or societies. Having said that, it is normal in a society to have conflict (most, if not all, sociology books for beginners have "conflict" as one of the topics). The problem with this kind of community is that you can't grab the person doing the wrong deed due to variables like multiple accounts, account using false names, account is abroad. In other words, Facebook also created people who are cowards and don't have a sense of accountability (I encountered a few like that here). "Patamaan", "parinigan" are two conflict escalating tools.

This was not written to justify these conflict escalating tools, especially if Christians are doing that. In fact, I am totally against it. I find it irresponsible to certain extent to escalate conflict in this site, which you'll deny later on. After all, why avoid the blame when you escalated the conflict in the first place? Instead, the concern is because of this "patama" complex, serious writing and self expression are also suspected as "patama". Every decent blogger/writer wanted to be politically correct. Because of this, the bar for political correctness, in my opinion, is raised significantly to the point that you will not write anymore plainly because you might be accused of making "patama", especially if you're a Christian. Because of this, you are deemed as the argumentative type, or in Tagalog, "palaaway". Now, because of this, the "happy thoughts" and "no negative energy" mantra is injected. It is like we're warped back during the hippie days, only this time the LSD is the "happy thoughts" and "no negative energy". I'm not against happy thoughts and no negative energy by the way. However, to throw away serious writing and opinion writing by putting "happy thoughts" is plain bullish, sarcastic, or just plain bullying. After all, it is never wrong to be a serious, satirical writer, just like it is not wrong to put those "happy thoughts" and "no negative energy" write ups.

Here are just some basic guidelines for every Christians to live when writing:

1. When writing someone's name, make sure you're praising him (Proverbs 3:27)

2. If you have anything against a fellow Christian, don't put it on Facebook. (Matthew 18:15-18)

3. Respect the style of a Christian writer. It may be condescending and tactless at some point, but as long as he or she is not violating any netiquette, and as long as it is the deed not the doer, IT IS NOT CONSIDERED "NANGAAWAY". It is merely his or her writing style. No more, no less.

4. If the statement doesn't mention names (your name in particular) and yet the approach is somewhat "patama", don't feel guilty. If the person is really doing it (the "patama"), let that person rot in hatred or anger. After all, the person doing the deed didn't tell it straight to the point. So, the problem that was supposed to be imputed on his "target person" will become his.

5. If the statement is making "patama", don't be affected if you're not like that.

6. If the statement is conflict escalating, the best tool in this aspect is avoidance. You 'll end up a villain if you become confrontational. Exception to this though is when he already crossed the line between self expression and libel.

7. Avoid being a part of the troop doing or receiving the patama (if it is proven). If a person says that this person is this and that, sympathize, but never join the pack. Troop gathering and being part of the troop will make conflict escalate higher.

8. Written words will mostly hit. The Bible is a perfect example. In Tagalog, "may tatamaan talaga, sadya man o hindi". Hence, when it hit someone, just be responsible and accountable enough to explain or apologize (if needed).

Thank you very much for reading. :)