Let a brick hit you | Inquirer Opinion
Like It Is

Let a brick hit you

/ 12:09 AM December 25, 2014

It’s Christmas, a time to think of others.

This story was sent to me some time ago. It’s a story addressed to us all. An online version can be viewed on www.thepathoftruth.com.


The story goes:

“A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something.


“As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag’s side door! He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown.

“The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up against a parked car, shouting, ‘What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing? That’s a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?’

“The young boy was apologetic. ‘Please, mister… Please, I’m sorry but I didn’t know what else to do,’ he pleaded. ‘I threw the brick because no one else would stop…’ With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car. ‘It’s my brother,’ he said. ‘He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up.’

“Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, ‘Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt and he’s too heavy for me.’

“Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay. ‘Thank you and may God bless you,’ the grateful child told the stranger. Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home.

“It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message: ‘Don’t go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!’ God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we don’t have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us. It’s our choice to listen or not.”

* * *


And while we’re thinking nice thoughts, here’s another one, a real-life one. Over 6,000 dead versus 18 dead (official count from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council), zero in Tacloban City. The President and his team can be congratulated for what CNN says was “the greatest display of being prepared we’ve ever seen in the Philippines” with “an incredible amount of organization.”

Shelters were built, and were ready; churches took in their parishioners; families in strong houses took in others, most voluntarily, a few forced to (a small sad note).

One young man prayed, “God, please help us, please help us.” But as a priest in Tacloban wisely said, “Is it the wrath of God? No, just part of nature.” And indeed, that’s all it is. And that young man and everyone else were saved by a government that was prepared, and that acted. And a people that cooperated.

But, successful as the efforts of the national government and especially of the local government units were, they were ad hoc. Schools and churches are not equipped as disaster centers, nor were they ever meant to be. Purpose-designed buildings still have to be built, except for too few. Now is the time to go beyond plans and promises and budgets. And build.

If I were the President, I’d be asking for emergency powers. Not to address the power problem, although in a modified form these powers can be useful there, but to bypass all the absurd bureaucratic and legal hurdles to just get anything done. More than 20,000 poor souls in Zamboanga are still living in temporary shelters 12 months after the siege. That there are many, many thousands still without a home in Leyte a year after “Yolanda” is just not acceptable. Yes, there has to be some control so that money is not stolen, but I’d rather risk losing a little than keeping hundreds of thousands of poor folk out of a halfway decent home. Let the Sandiganbayan, the Commission on Audit, the Office of the Ombudsman and other concerned agencies go after the thieves later. And maybe the priests can preach a bit more strongly on the sin of stealing (commandment No. 8) and the subsequent journey to hell.

It’s time to use bricks, not to throw them at passing Jaguars, but to build houses, and typhoon-proof shelters, and new schools. The year 2015, the last full year of the President’s term, should be one of building. It’s too late for further promises, too late for good intentions. It’s time for concrete action—using concrete.

Time to act, Mr. President, time to ask for emergency powers to just get things done for these poor folk who’ve lost so much. Put an end to their suffering, make it your Christmas resolve.

May a brick hit us every day. Have you helped someone today, Christmas Day? It’s not too late to do so.

* * *

Christmas is upon us. Let us all spare a thought for those hard-working overseas Filipino workers who can’t be with their families at Christmas, as we can.

May their sacrifice be rewarded.

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TAGS: Christmas, disaster response, emergency power, governance
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