Because Every Day is Halloween

A glimpse from the eyes of a Third Worlder. With glasses, of course

Okay, kids. Let’s start.

In an ideal world, resources are abundant, enough to meet the demands and still have spare for emergencies. In the real world, resources are like tissue paper in a public bathroom stall in a third world country – you’re goddamn lucky to even find one.

In an ideal world, professional ethics have their roots at the educational institutions and ends when a professional retires, and sometimes, not even until he dies. In the real world, school is where professional ethics ends.

In an ideal world, Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. In the real world, Jack asked Jill to go to the highway and rap at car windows to ask for coins from testy car drivers when that traffic light goes red. Sometimes they even have color amnesia and start forgetting those colors mean anything at all.

Living in the third world country, I found, guarantees you an infinite mental list of an Ideal vs. Real combo.

All these years, I’ve seen (I am) people trying to get on with life with their feet on the extremes of a very fine wire. And all this time, I’ve never seen the weight balanced on the wire; people always have a constant risk of falling since they continuously amass on the extremely deprived side.

I’ve never been abroad, limited resources (i.e. having money just enough for NEEDS, sometimes not even close) saw to that.

But since people find numerous ways of making the world a microcosm every day, it is inevitable to get a glimpse, albeit a blurry version, of how people get on with their lives in the upper ranks of the world (read, first world. Although when you get technical-historical about it, it was never really meant to become a “ranking system”. But as with most things, time [but mostly people] distorts something in one way or another and before you know it, a definition sticks like a leech).

Like you, my mother told me it is never good to compare. But I’d sooner lay a golden egg than find someone who truly doesn’t do it.

I know there are nations who have it worse than our own pearl of the orient, but those who have it better outnumber the rest of them. In all statistical surveys other than Corruption and Poverty and the Worst Airports of the Century, we always seem to be at the lowest ranks. And when the compare-o-meter starts rolling, goats get restless with the knowledge of grass having less leaches sticking on them on the other side. And yes, the Philippines does have a great deal of leeches. Goats, too.

Famine, Pollution, Corruption – I know these jocks are hotshots Earthwide, but in some parts, you can’t help but see them without a fishnet stocking blocking your view. I see them with a magnifying glass (along with devastating healthcare, educational, political, sanitary systems) on a daily basis.

I can’t even blame a good and righteous blue-eyed woman torturing her toddler by saying, “Finish that sloppy-food-that-doesn’t-look-or-taste-better-than-something-that-shouldn’t-get-in-but-out-of-the-body OR ELSE I’ll send you to one of them third world countries where they tread on dog shit ninety times a day!

In some areas of the country, I suspect that could be true. But it’s not exactly as horrifying as having to tread on Tuberculosis-infected spit or eating in a carinderia (stalls where you get to eat homemade food) and praying every time you get a spoonful near your mouth you won’t get Hepatitis. In most parts of the country, these things are truth.

For someone used to the comforts of living in a first-world neighborhood, living here might be like Halloween per diem.

I know I musn’t be the first to bitch (excuza me for the French, kids, although I doubt any of you would be lost here for more than a tenth of a minute) about these things. I’m one among millions, methinks. And like all of them people having importance only as fillers in the world of Statistics, I’m wondering about how to change things.

HOW.

A person who thinks normally would have already made the conclusion that I do want to change things as they are.

Maybe I do.

But there’s that space somewhere in the thinking portion of my being (you sensible people would call it the brain, but personally I’m not as sure) that somehow already resonates satisfaction with how things work.

I mean, come to think of it, it’s just like the psychology of abuse – the more exposed you are to something, the more you tend to think it’s normal and the more you resist attempts to change the state of things.

Eck.

Well, maybe. Yes, maybe I am indeed a culturally-abused individual, the only difference is, I don’t know who to blame.

See, the greatest paradox is how people around me, people who could only knot their foreheads in confusion at the prospect of having Internet connection available in ninety-five percent of every square inch in the country and people who could pop their eyes at the prospect of having enough money for food every day, still have smiles that could reach their eyes.

How they could still imagine promising futures for their children despite being up to their eyeballs with loans and debts.

How they always say people are much luckier abroad but secretly never choose to live away from their country.

How they could look at things around them and never ruminate about how to properly tie a noose but rather how life has blessed them in so many ways.

Some would call it ignorance.

Others, numbness.

The romantics, however, would call it Patriotism.

I secretly call it Cultural Abuse Syndrome: Positive type, although now it’s not that much of a secret as my having a birthmark somewhere down the bush.

Right.

But whatever it’s called, fortunately, won’t matter to the “affected” people because they don’t have time to read and worry about ostentatious, I mean BIG, words; no, they’re busy looking for ways to sustain their basic needs. They don’t have much time for anything else, really, much less on contemplating the mechanism of how to be depressed.

Sometimes, it seems that’s the only thing that keeps you from tying up that noose.

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8 thoughts on “Because Every Day is Halloween

  1. That last bit is pretty interesting to me. I’m not sure your own background or current world, so I can’t think of saying that I empathize, but I’ve seen a bit of what you’re talking about and furrowed my own brow to it. You might say I’m the un-content type in a way–not to mean I’m not happy with what I have (which is pretty darn blessed), but I’m always trying for more, because…why not (especially if there’s fun/interest/adventure in the pursuit)? So seeing those in true poverty who don’t “try” to get out of it or try a new spin on things feels like some gross affront to my own dogma.

    That which I see though isn’t always that people really have no means or time for such, so I think the idea of being “indoctrinated” speaks more to it as you said. It’s a fairy tale, something they never see, and so something they never want. And hell, if pleasure is not on your expectations list, and it cost risk to obtain, what’s the point of it anyway?

    It burns me to see it. It really does. Not in a guilty way and often not even in a sorrowful way. Sometimes even more like an insult, like some just glaring mar on my idea of what it means to be human.

    But that is of course because of all I take for granted.

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    1. Most of the people I see around me lose the will to get out of the poverty that seemed to loom over them all their lives. Defeatist attitude; yes, there is some beauty in it, the elusive value of contentment for one. Being contented with the simplest things in life.

      But is it really contentment or just an excuse to stop “trying”?

      I wanted to make sense of the world I move around in everyday. I try to figure what makes these people, my people, live their lives with a contentment I can NEVER seem to fully grasp. This is what I came up with. But, like you, I found it exasperating and I couldn’t understand why they chose to settle for less when they can still try to change things.

      Now I find myself asking more questions than when I started – is trying to change things only for the young and less worn out by life’s disappointments? A matter of age? Or does it all matter to the character of an individual?

      I’m young, I wanted to change things, but when you’re surrounded by people who never seem to aspire for more, you can’t help but feel some energy leaving you; can’t help but feel confused and contradicted with your own goals.

      Or maybe I’m just blurting out excuses. Erg, I really need a breather.

      And thanks for the nudge!

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      1. Personally I think the honest truth is the ugly truth in this case (though perhaps with a little sugar that can be put on top). You said there is some beauty in the poverty mindset, and I agree, if you look at it from the outside and an odd angle. I think that’s the same reason why we “first-worldies” get some overly idealistic notions about going and volunteering in developing countries. (So there’s the sugar I mentioned)

        But if you’ve tasted the “better life,” the freedom, the opportunity, and even the luxury, and as long as there’s nothing one is really running away from, then I think one would find that there’s really no glory to it. With honesty that is. Over-romanticizing it can otherwise be a nice justification that keeps us feeling good.

        So I think the ugly truth is that we tend to think “it was better in the good ol’ days”or that humanity is better off with less, but really the “good ol’ days” involved much more of humanity just trying to survive, and “less” can fix some things (like greed), but a responsible use of “more” weights out far far better for the so-dubbed human condition.

        And it IS hard to aspire around people who don’t. My time in a developing country now has left me hungering for catharsis and innovative-thinking like I hungered for pizza buffets in the U.S. Keep whatever you’ve got alive and strong however you can methinks. Even if it’s something that will be lost to us with age and duty, it’s worth the chance and the whimsical nights in the meantime.

        /likelyrant.

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      2. We all need a rant as much as we need to have pizzas for dinners, right? And I’d have anyone rant anytime here as long as they agree with what I have to say (OR ELSE!).

        Nah, kidding aside, do you think there aren’t logical, level-headed internet regulators who’s reading this right now and setting up plans to lock us up for all the idealistic notions being voiced here?

        No, really. I do buy that bit about “progress”, the “more” ideology, ESPECIALLY if it’s confined in the books and speeches where it’s all shiny and perfect. But when it gets out in the open, it’s much more complex because in order to have more, some people’s rights get trampled, the environment gets fucked up, and all the other appalling things that gets less advertising.

        I would opine that progress is a very complex notion. I’m all for it, if not for things like the above mentioned – If only we people could do something to brought it to life without messing it up a big deal.

        Still, if you think about it, the archaic times does seem romantic what with more of nature and the whiff of magic more apparent in the air – IF ONLY there wasn’t the black plague and the constant worry of where to wipe things up when using the bathroom that comes with it, among others.

        I’m all for progress, really (I would hate to imagine myself ending up a defeatist. Ugh, no). If only the “price” to have it can somewhat be altered.

        But yes, we should just keep on doing what we can for the meantime. Maybe the answers would come with the actions along the way. 🙂

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      3. The idealist regulators are in my head. They like to squash my happy ideas and remind me that I’m one silly man amongst a population numbered in the billions. I tend not listen to them though. They aren’t very polite.

        I’m not sure I’d actually agree that all progress must have a (other than labor) cost though, but maybe that’s my own idealism. Better I would think is that all progress has potential “dangers,” but now I’m just playing a semantics war.

        I could still long for the medieval ages, the knights and all that jazz. But to genuinely think of what it would really be like to live then would make me realize that what I would rather is to have the positive elements of that time come to the here and now. Which “could” be possible.

        But the grass is always greener on the other side of course.

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