Thursday, January 27, 2011

Poor Questions, Why?

“I shall call the innocent multitude, I shall show them their poverty.” – El Filibusterismo, Jose Rizal

            There are questions that are better unasked and left unanswered. In the same light, that there is a precariously thin line between a stupid question and a notable one. Invariably, we don’t know which one to ask, and yet we expect excellent answer somehow.

            Why are we poor?

            It is never a covert practice of public officials to accept bribes, acquire lavish lifestyles, and plunder the people’s money. If they have spent millions for their election in office that doesn’t in any way offer a substantial compensation, where do they source their payback? I would like to believe that these politicians are simply generous and sincere in their desire to serve the public. 

         Woe to the people who have been betrayed and still willing to be victims, and shame to those who have done such acts. Now no less than a governor is pointing a finger to a president allegedly receiving bribed money from gambling lords. Bereft with evidences, the allegation is likely to stay like a liquid looking for a container. Soon it will evaporate if we continue to shrug it off. (Wake up, we are being cheated straight-faced.)

            Is it why we are poor? Most of us dread interviews especially a job interview. It is not that we don’t want to get a job but we are scared to tell someone how we badly need one. It is usually the rhetoric questions that discourage us to finally dress up decently, carry that old bio-data, enter the door of uncertainty, sit down with other rivals thinking similarly that they are much more qualified, hear their family name called with the bourgeoisie sound, face the unassuming interviewer who hold our future, respond unreadily to the  familiar questions, walk out the room with failing hope, and expect a call even if we have no phone at home. No days would pass without recalling which questions we might have answered wrong. “Can you tell me about yourself?” That’s it. We should have answered correctly this way, we are poor and we are unemployed and we need this job. Is it hard to speak about? Because it is the truth and the other painful truth is that we don’t have a “padrino” to boot.

            Why are we poor then?

            It does not make sense if we see billboards declaring, “Sorry for the inconvenience, this is where your taxes go.” We can accept the inconvenience thing because we are very much used with it but the hardest pill to swallow is the alleged recipient of our taxes. The culture of corruption in our society particularly in the public sector is endemic. The structure, the system, the values, these all contribute to bring about and breed corruption. Sometimes we are partly to blame for we succumb to the greedy system by giving bribes. The cycle of blaming syndrome, that no one will give if no one receives and that no one will receive if no one gives, is not going to help in combating corruption.

            What kind of basic services, just the most basic ones, can we expect from our government if we lose 20% of our national budget to corruption every year, says the World Bank. The Bank also identifies a number of recommendations to fight corruption in our country; reducing opportunities for corruption through policy reforms and deregulation, reforming campaign finance, increasing public oversight, reforming budget processes, enhancing sanctions for corruption, developing partnerships with the private sector, improving meritocracy in the civil service and supporting judicial reforms.

            If South Korea could jail former presidents convicted with corruption, why can’t we just investigate our own? If it does happen, I suppose we are now prepared to liberate ourselves from poverty.

            The beatitudes of poverty, that bestow blessedness because the Kingdom of God is ours, are purely expressions of the vicarious suffering and not earth-shaking protests of the real suffering. The illusions of that promised happiness do not constitute real happiness we are supposed to enjoy while on earth. Mysticism, spiritualism, and religion intend to rationalize the miserable conditions of the poor, and we, the innocent and trusting poor in our shallow discernment, find the means of escape from poverty and oppression through them. They have been quite successful in having us believed that our liberation from oppression lies not on this world, that our freedom from poverty is not of this world. 

            Another world must be truly possible.

            What is the question again?

            Our poor memory tends to make us repeat the same mistakes. But this time, never again.

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