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    HAPPY NEW YEAR!  HAPPY THREE KINGS! As we are now in 2019, new year, new beginnings, new challenges and  new opportunities.  Everyone is entitled to make their new year’s resolution for as long as they keep it in mind and make sure that they do it to the best of their ability.  When I was young [...]

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Page added on September 24, 2017

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Pity: Beyond the Metaphorical Tears of Mediocrity

By Erwin Maramat

No matter how lovely, leave not flowers on a dead man’s face. As justice, so writers are; blind as freaking bats and a rueful instance of cliché.

“I find it hard to digest paste, but it’s better than nothing,” a friend of mine once said while lounging on a box that had the label ‘Hope” on it, a brand of menthol cigarettes which like its name, hope to transform people into potential lung cancer patients.

He was a brilliant student. I know because we sat in class together, until the day he dropped out. Two years later, he was panhandling for food outside a church not far from our school. An orphan sired by the most unfortunate of situations. He did not fully resign in his current state, but after seeking employment, he was often compensated with words such as no vacancy or not qualified, a substitute for the word f*** off!

I often dropped by after class, offering him meals and asking him if he wanted to stay with my family until he got back on his feet, but he vehemently refused. He sagged where he sat. Shrivelled into a pulp by the scorching sun. He was brittle bones wearing skin and yet he wore it with pride. His bloodshot eyes spoke to mine. Then, I had to speak.

“Why don’t you go on welfare?”

“Are you kidding? This is Manila man. Welfare is synonymous to the word fairy tale here.”

Yes, this isn’t a make-believe. We did speak in English. Again, he is homeless, not thoughtless. I found wisdom that day. Nothing could cut me deeper than the following notion that leapt out of his mouth:

“People see me as a rusty cog along with others who run the pity machine. You will always come upon writers who write about poverty, yet they rarely capture the garish and gnarly portrait of scarcity. They just love missing the point. You are a writer, don’t sugar-coat the truth, write things as they are. I am abundant in pity and I don’t need another.”

It was too hard to swallow; however, those words kept echoing, “I am abundant in pity and I don’t need another.”

“Charity is not the answer. It’s either a way for people to make themselves look good, even worse, when you have a CEO that runs a charity, you know you are talking business. Real charity is something that is never declared. Sincerity is silent.”

I never understood what he meant until I worked for a non-profit organization that had a marketing department which only confirmed his opinions about them.

Writers love to cover the issue on poverty, but do very little. Being able to describe poverty in a J.R.R Tolkien fashion isn’t brilliant, all it does is paint a picture of what we already know. Stating the obvious is not really a respectable essay, is it? Tell me, do you not really know what being needy looks like? If not for pity what else are you soliciting when you are merely re-counting events that are present wherever you go? Awareness is not the cure, mindfulness is and the commitment to deliver tangible results.

Facebook walls are practically littered with posts that solicit pity and I don’t exactly know what kind of sick kick, people are getting out of it. A picture of a boy who is sick, click like. Jesus loves you, click like or type amen. I’m not sure if Jesus really checks social media, and highly doubt that he needs one. Challenge accepted, I will post a black and white selfie of myself to show my awareness of cancer. Duh, I am aware that cancer exists. Click like or love for poor people everywhere.

What it means to help.

His name is Renato, and he is right. The hackneyed proverb, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime, teaching man just wouldn’t cut it anymore. Man requires more than learning how to fish; he should be allowed to fish and be granted the freedom to either sell his fish in the market or eat it. To cap off this sushi driven analogy he should be given the right equipment to fish, in other words, don’t assist someone through livelihood programs and allow heartless corporations to put up a mall next to the fish store. There are millions of ways we can solve poverty, but welcome to the real world, we’d rather hate and watch soap operas. Click like and share on Facebook.

Ending poverty is not limited to people’s income. To address poverty, the population should have access to opportunities for growth and are to be provided with housing, potable water, conducive environment, security, health care and education. Easier said than done; no, it’s easier done than said, if only we let moral values dictate our actions than greed and overconsumption.

The world is cruel…not really; only humans are. If we could only learn to be selfless, life will be truly wonderful.

I find it hard to digest literary mediocrity and I leave not flowers on a dead man’s face.


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