Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why I Still Hope For a Youth Revolution

Frankly, I have not been into writing much lately. Most of you know that I have been so bogged down by ideas and responsibilities and much shit has hit so many fans recently. However, they say that the Muse of Writing does drop by sometimes to give you a pinch and turn out some ideas sifting in your brain for a long time.

The following writing after the video jump is my response to the video "Lost Generation" by AARP, which was assigned as a point of discussion for our Th 131 discussion under Ms. Maria Elisa Borja. This is actually raw me: all my idealism bottled up and tempered by discourse waiting to explode for such a long time. Sure, they are not what you would expect to hear of me if you read my writings for about a year now, but I recall them.

I've come across these inspirational "bad pessimists then reverse to be optimist" messages for quite a while. On a formalist note, they look good. But it does not end there.

Now, on to my idea on this. I don't know if anyone will respond to this, this is quite long.

There are many grave problems that face the world that, more often than not, we are prone to just take them in stride, following the life-saving trait of the chameleon. We follow the conditions by which we find ourselves in to make us more pleasable, more acceptable to our societal constructs and the values of the world we were born in. "When in Rome, do what the Romans do, right?" I have had many elders telling me these since I was a child: "matuto kang makibagay. You cannot bend everyone to your will, let them be." Not one of us got the message of Rizal about the story of the moth and the flame: "the flame, though dangerous, is worth dying for."

Yes, they have promoted "stable societies." And they also have fueled lynch mobs.

True, I would not deny it, the youth are becoming more and more, at face value, apathetic and lethargic. They have elected to be more on the safe side, the side of authority, the good life. And in more ways than one, they are proud of it. They think of it as their privilege to be beyond issues of political participation because they have no stake in it, because they are of those sectors which do not have any supposed NEED, I stress, NEED to speak out against injustices and the problems of people. And they even have the gall to speak of them being among the Silent Majority, those who are content with the world as it is as if creation is so beautiful it ended at the seventh day when God rested, not knowing that they forebears have done every mentionable blunder to make our "pale blue dot," as Carl Sagan put it, awash with blood, "all to conquer a speck of dust on the face of the universe."

I have not seen it better than last Monday, the anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita massacre. With a handful of course mates we decried the 15 years of injustice that have been denied to tenants who have been gunned down mercilessly while all they did was to ask for rights, a peaceful dialogue for the preservation of a relationship of tenant-landlord towards a more developmental one. We sought to be heard and were met by blank stares and ridiculing smiles. I have not seen a more MANHID bunch of youth than here, to be quite blunt about. Forget about all your momentous Ondoy relief support, forget about your JEEP, forget your NSTP. When push comes to shove, when issues of justice come into play, when ideals are put to the test, I wonder if Ateneans really possess that sapientia et eloquentia the Jesuits have promised will impart to us.

But are they really apathetic? Are they really too habituated to be benumbed to the endless cries of a society in chains?

I do not think so. I believe the past four decades has done so much to form and rattle a hundred generations to become aware, to become stakeholders in the future of a world that will end but should be made to last while it can. But in the ensuing new world we have opened, our activists have been consumed by anger and thirst for equity they have lost their reason in a momentum that will leave them dead in our hinterlands. The state that has lost its legitimacy in our community has resorted to systematic repression, first by confrontaion, then by denying education to a majority of our countrymen. And the result of this is a generation that has been disillusioned from birth, a generation habituated to playing the safe side. A generation of spoiled brats of history, as a 14 year old Florianne Jimenez would write in the Philippine Daily Inquirer's Youngblood about six years ago.

But I still refuse to believe the youth is apathetic and lethargic. They know what is happening. They know what should be done. They know justice. But they are afraid. And they are disempowered. As a colleague of mine succinctly described: DISEMPOWERMENT IS THE NEW APATHY.

We have been so habituated to happiness we do not know how to be sad, and we are afraid of loneliness. We have been so habituated to be seeking comfort we have refused to become exposed to hardship even though it is what we need to steer a world on the twilight years of its existence. And when we are faced by hardships, we deny. We escape. We drown ourselves in vice only to feel. And then we snuff our own lives.

I don't think this is what God wanted with us when he gave us free will.

He would have wanted us to be inflamed. He would have wanted us to see His Son in the millions that die in our midst. He would want us to be at every parapet and tell every living soul in our midst to stop a while and ask ourselves: "Have you looked at your neighbor today." He would have wanted us to engage our emotions, have splagchnizomai.


I remember this clip from the film Network. The newscaster Howard Beale, in a fit of rage, told every person with a television what they should feel in times of challenges:

I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be! We know things are bad - worse than bad, They're crazy! It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone!' Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone! I want you to get MAD! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad! You've got to say, "I'm a HUMAN BEING, GODDAMNIT! My LIFE has VALUE!!" So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now, and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell: "
I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!!" I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!!!

Sure, we need a clear thinking mind when we get down to the nitty-gritty of our problems, but I don't think anything can be solved without this seeming understanding of urgency. Hannah Arendt has stressed action with deliberation. I think we have been too reified by our desires for the good life. We think we are privileged, that like its namesake, this is Athens, the space of freedom where we can think of only ourselves without introspection and understanding of the necessities of those beyond us. But I think it is about time we have our katabasis, towards the Piraeus we just pass by and never contemplate on. It's about time we answer that faded cry of going down from the hill.

Creative Commons License
Why I Still Hope For a Youth Revolution by Hansley A. Juliano is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License.
Based on a work at

No comments: