We created them

CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - August 21, 2019 - 12:00am

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6.

There is now a bit of debate over who creates militant activists or rebels. The military claims that leftist organizations target and recruit young students and indoctrinate them into becoming the activists and rebels of the future. Others believe that it is the kind of school that kids go into, such as state universities, where the academic freedom and the absence of security controls create a perfect playground for indoctrination and recruitment. In Hong Kong where millions of people have been taking part in protest marches that have recently turned violent, the protesters claim that violence begets violence and they are merely reacting to the same type of violence that the police inflict upon them. The funny part is that no one is ever brave enough to claim that “We” are the ones who create the activists and rebels of the future. Yes, “We” and by this I don’t mean a specific group. If charity begins at home so does discontent, expression and rebellion which eventually manifests itself in schools, in public, at work and in the battlefield or the hills.

No matter how much self happiness the surveys may report, Filipinos in general constantly have something to complain about. All you have to do is view the thousands if not millions of posts on Facebook where Filipinos constantly lament about one thing or another. Either the traffic is horrendous, It’s too hot, Too much rain, Duterte said something bad, the government does not know what it’s doing and on and on and on. We think nothing of such expressed grief or discontent since we are all entitled to our freedom of expression and we view all that perpetual complaining as self expression. But we fail to realize that these lamentations eventually become the building block of our mindset and culture; the culture of complainers. Remember what Proverbs 29:20 teaches: “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Sadly most people are so focused on complaining that they completely forget that they also have the power to solve their problems or improve their situation. We miss on the possibilities because we are too preoccupied with the negative. A lifetime of complaining ultimately forms into a constant low-level of anger that combined with the right or wrong circumstance can be explosive or transformative.

Even before students get to schools or are exposed to the politics of life, they are already exposed to the politics of their parents, siblings and community. If you are what you eat, chances are you become what your family think or believe. They grow up becoming what their parents “sowed” into their minds and their hearts and because we reap what we sow, we end up creating or producing high potential trouble makers or malcontents. Unhappiness or discontent requires no qualification. The richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor can be unhappy and malcontent as long as there are people or individuals who encourage or promote the thought or the mindset. Are you one of them?

From the home, we send kids to universities and colleges as “Newbies” or “Freshies” – wide eyed, anxious, vulnerable and ignorant. So many parents “send off” kids to college these days without realizing that it is in the first two months or semester at university where many of the most religious or devout catholics or christians end up being lost to the “bad” influences. It is at this time when they are preyed upon as “fresh meat” or new recruits by one group or another. In the meantime, university officials are more focused on “processing” their human cattle instead of carefully managing student affairs. “Freshies” are drilled on the rules but no one is around to check on their mental, emotional or physical state. In a previous column, I wrote about school dormitories that were nothing more than government issued bunk beds, a toilet and electricity. Authorities and NGOs are arguing about “activists,” but a careful look at the state of affairs reveals that no one has ever placed a “no touch” or “off limits” policy to protect freshies and sophomores in college so they can focus on their studies and integration instead of being victimized by the right or the wrong group of people or campus organizations. Instead of arguing over who creates “activists,” we should all be talking about “activities” that would engage students in order to be problem solvers, tap into their creativity and idealism.

The University of the Philippines has what they call an Office for Student Affairs but based on what I’ve seen lately as well as recall from my time in UP, the office and similar offices seriously need to re-evaluate itself to determine if they still see what is essential to students. Living standards, quality of education, the competency and compassion of professors and lecturers, support system needed by students in order to be excellent performers. By and large the bureaucratic mentality and regimented processes of government and business have basically insured that today’s students are confronted with enough challenges or dissatisfaction that would make them easy pickings for people intent on rebellion and protests.

Instead of accusing activists for recruiting our children and making them activists, why not stand in front of the mirror or pull up a chair and ask yourself this question: Did I contribute to the making of an “activist”? Did I stop being a parent and protector to my child because he or she entered college? What have I said or done to promote a positive environment for student affairs? Or have I just been too busy with myself and my complaints?

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Email: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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