BLANK CANVASSES| Thoughts of An Ahjumma

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Another entry. I’m supposed to be doing some other stuff, but after reading an article that explains the person’s hatred that he/she says is not “racist”, but could might as well pass off as extremely prejudiced and arrogant, if not supremacist- I could not help but collect my upset thoughts. This is a product of that collection (laugh).

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you.” (49:13)

Several years ago, as someone who was searching for her identity… as someone who yearning to find a community she belongs to, reading that verse for the first time struck a strong chord in me.

American, European, Arab, Indian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Filipino- no matter what race one may belong to…beyond the social constructs and divisions we so normally have accepted, we are all human beings.

Our identities as a people, our history may define the “us”, now. But by connecting with others THAT is how we truly grow. When we start to look beyond the constraints of “culture” to define what is right and wrong against another human being, then we can grow.

Think of it like this, when we are born-regardless where we come from-we are like blank canvasses. Through time as we learn, we discover then change. Each experience is like a brushstroke that slowly forms a picture that tells a unique story.

Each day of our lives is like a fresh page in an initially, blank, story book- the material that serves like a brochure to the image painted on to the canvass once completed.

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If we were meant to be restricted to the borders of our “nations”/”cultures” then wouldn’t we NOT come as blank canvasses?

But we did, and no baby is born with a “culture” infused into his/her ways. We are born all equally…as human beings with probably the only significant distinction would be the defining purpose in the life we’ve been given. A purpose that only we could have completed in the way we have allowed or chosen to be.

I’m not saying to throw away the many achievements and grievances that each people has faced. No, definitely not. We have disregarded so much of each other’s history that we fail at the many challenges we face now, simply because we haven’t learnt the real lessons each point in history should have taught us.

What I’m saying is, instead of seeing our identities as something that sets each of us apart, shouldn’t we start to look at our unique identities as the strings that could bring us together?

We have so many romantics that say that differences between two lovers who share a genuine, beautiful relationship aren’t actually hindrances. Instead, those differences complement each other, help each other grow.

Perhaps we should adapt that way of thinking…see our differences as something that could complement each other. See our differences as something that could teach each other things we didn’t know, we didn’t know. (Yes, I just made a Disney reference.)

Perhaps we ca liken ourselves to canvasses, that are actually part of bigger canvas? Or like a volume within a series of books that complete one huge story?

Right now, as connected our communities seem to be with technology, we are still at a point of critical disconnection from each other…

However ours is a time, a chapter, a page defined by the past, and that which will define our future.

If we remain at this state of disconnection…

What kind of picture are we each contributing to?

What kind of story are we writing ourselves in?

Lessons from the Railways| Thoughts of an Ahjumma

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(Credit to The Philippine Daily Inquirer for photo)

I always am blessed to learn or to be reminded of something good while taking the MRT. But today was quite different.

There are almost a handful of things I was reminded of or taught about while experiencing another worse-than-packed-sardines-MRT day. (Which is almost like everyday, except Sundays XD)

1.Our society is very much like this kind of MRT day. People pushing,impatient, all desperately racing to get their destination, not minding that others like them are on this same platform as well. Literally, and figuratively speaking.

They’d push, they’d do almost anything to get on that train. I strongly think that 2/4 of the frustration comes from not giving others the chance to get off first. (The tramcar is obviously full, how could one get in when others haven’t gotten off to give next passengers actual space??)

Would anything change if we push ourselves into an already jam-packed vehicle? Are those few secondss we lose just to let others off first really so important? Won’t we lose more when we fight and almost push others off the railway?

This mentality of “my welfare first”/“i have my problems too” is a major reason why we ain’t moving as a society. 

“No man is an island” is something that I believe talks more than just individual loneliness. It talks about how we all, despite being unique, are interconnected. In fact, it’s our uniqueness that helps us connect and helps us collectively more forward.

2. Reminded again to never judge a book by its cover. Just because that person looks so “sacred” that he/she can’t be corrupt.

Such kind of person was next in line to me. Making way for someone getting off, I was pushed out and then that person got in first. I laughed at the encounter but it made me sad, since they’d be like one of those people many would expect to act with more patience & decency… whereas if I would have worn a veil slightly different from theirs, society would probably just go “Oh she’s of ‘them’. Rude, is expected”. (Prejudice is something terrible to have)

3. Despite all the frustrating ills we have as human beings there’s still hope. Most grateful to the security guard who let me go first -even after I was pushed out of the queue, giving me an exception even when others would have protested. He saw what happened  and calmly explained even the commuters’ hot tempers. Without his help, I probably would have ended up at the end of dreadful queue. (I know because none of those who were next to me in line moved an inch to let me get back in line after being pushed out.)

“There is still hope”. If only we could all learn to be like that security guard. If we could stop being stubborn in being pessimistic. If we could learn to let ourselves have sympathy/empathy again. That the plight of others is not their fault entirely. Especially in this society, we in differing degrees are responsible.

Reminds me of that commuter who laughed at Pnoy for trying to implement “tuwid na daan”/(pursuing the) “straight path” and all who still believed in it. That person said,  “He’s a fool! What straight path? It’s nonexistent. In this society? Ha!”

I wished I could’ve spoken out then.

Because the only reason we can’t seem to get on a straight path is because we have chosen to believe that such path doesn’t exist. We laugh at others ACTUALLY doing what they can to change. When we should pity ourselves for not being concerned,giving up, doing nothing.

4.  Last is something I’ve adopted after taking the MRT quite often, if not regularly.

In a competitive society, the pressures of everyday life can come from all directions- pushing you, squeezing you ’til you can’t seem to breathe.

  Letting these pressures get to you won’t help. Letting the anger of others get to you won’t help. Breathe despite all of it. Adjust what you can, but never loose your footing, your zen within. I’ve learned to calmly let others be when it seems there’s nothing I can do now to change the situation. And to smile, even it can be painful.

Because it might seem such a long ride, but as long as you keep patient in doing what you can, your bound to get to your destination in time.

-Growing Tree