Love—and more importantly family love—is more necessary than ever before. We need to learn to give it better, and to receive it better.
On love and on family
( - December 4, 2018 - 10:00am

One of these two things is true: 1) The news is convincing us every single day that the world is more dangerous than it appears or 2) The world has always been dangerous—we’re just getting better at documenting it. On days when there aren’t mass shootings in the United States, there are bodies to be found in the streets of Philippine cities. On fortunate days when no one is shot, a CCTV will have captured a truck bulldozing an old woman.

Approach everything with compassion and you’ll find that these tragedies take root in quieter, more personal tragedies. How many mass shooters come from broken homes? How many were bullied? How do you think his being a victim of molestation formed the Philippine President’s policy framework? And what percentage of reckless driving victims can we attribute to drivers trying to earn a living wage?

But that is, perhaps, too compassionate. None of these excuses bad behavior—which is a too-mild catchall for mass murder. Our unfortunate circumstances, no matter how dire, can never justify inflicting damage on our communities. But such thinking, at least, is useful for identifying the true fissures in human civilization—and not just the flesh wounds. And it might lead us to agreeing on a long-term healing process, and not just band-aid solutions.

Much of this comes from a deficit of love. Trite, for sure, but we cannot avoid obvious solutions just because they sound cheesy. It means mothers and fathers paying closer attention to the emotional well-being of their children, instead of saying “kaka-computer mo ‘yan,” for example. It means communities where kindness is more commonplace. It means schools, even, deciding to teach children what it means to love and be loved.

Isn’t it funny? We learn about basic Math and Science and English, so we can learn about Calculus and Astrophysics and Literature, so we can maybe land good jobs. Sure, that’s an essential part of life. But what about the innate human desire to love and be loved? All we get is an incidental education from TV shows—the drama, the romantic gesture, the happily-ever-after. It’s no surprise that, in cases when we do want to express love, we often misdirect it and reach an unfortunate and unwanted by-product: misery.

Love—and more importantly family love—is more necessary than ever before. We need to learn to give it better, and to receive it better.

There are many ways to do this. For one, identify the places in which you have even a little privilege—and see what you can give. If you have the privilege of being economically comfortable, stop haggling with street vendors over an extra P20. That money isn’t going into a Cayman Islands savings account; it’s probably going to a meatier meal, or a well-deserved RC Cola, if they’re having a good day.

If you have the privilege of being a man in a man’s world, stand up for women and children, even when it’s inconvenient. If you have the privilege of driving a car, look for people you can pick up and drop off—that’s three or four souls every day who can be spared from the glorified can that is the MRT.

If you are living in this world, you’re probably suffering in some way. We are all damaged beings. An economically privileged person may be dealing with a failed marriage. A straight man may be dealing with feelings of inadequacy as a provider, given our economic climate.

But giving from our areas of privilege is not a sign of weakness; it does not invalidate our suffering. In fact, eventually, it makes it better. Eventually, it creates a community that’s easier to live with.

It doesn’t have to start with grand gestures either. This isn’t the movies. You don’t have to end polio like Bill Gates or build a school like LeBron James. You can begin a campaign of kindness within your own, small circle. In fact, begin with your family. If you have the time to spare to listen to a sibling’s long and convoluted story of heartache—do it. They probably need it.

If you can spare the money to buy a pamangkin of yours something small, don’t think twice. Create spaces of comfort where they didn’t previously exist. Maybe eventually they can cover Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and even the West Philippine Sea.

Don't get me wrong, though. This humble plea was written with the awareness that it will change very little. At the end of the day, the thesis statement doesn’t stray very far from Jesus Christ in John 13:34: Love one another. But sometimes we need reminding. And my prayer—as I depart this world—is that these feelings will reach you at the right time in your life. Call it astrology or feng shui or whatever. I hope we can all love a little better and pray for good fortune. It might mean a better world for all of us. I’m not going to live to see it, but I have a feeling it can be done. I’m rooting for you.

This article was commissioned by a recently departed person who wished to remain anonymous.

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