There is always an alternative
President Robert Mugabe once asked: “How can you convince the next generation that education is the key to success when we are surrounded by poor graduates and rich criminals?”
Perhaps this is what our society has metamorphosed into. We have mobsters who want to become politicians and we have politicians who are acting like mobsters. We were enslaved by our foreign oppressors in the past; we are being enslaved by apathy today. There appears to be a frightening silence that is enveloping this nation. It is a discomforting quietude that has multiplied the deaths of the powerless a thousandfold.
For some of us, violence now appears to be as glamorous as the red carpet in Hollywood. But for all the glory that any war might define for a brave man, the path to peace is the one that requires greater courage. We have been told time and again that violence only begets violence. Even Mugabe knows that sooner or later, any man who is so drunk with power will find himself losing everything. All dictators are to be buried in a lonely grave where beautiful flowers never grow.
An impoverished boy battles his first monster the moment hunger takes over his everyday life. Neglected but bold, he will carry that resolve to pursue things in order to get what he believes he deserves as a human being. He is unperturbed and seeing himself as a victim of circumstances, and his anger and newfound strength as a man without morals will catapult him into doing things with no fear or warrant. Poverty becomes his alibi, and his suffering is his rational justification for being indifferent to the norms of modern man.
A woman who finds herself in the margins of society will succumb to the pangs of poverty the moment she decides that all is lost, including the value of her primary virtues. Without the love and attention of a patriarchal culture, she becomes the victim of the callous ways of men, pained by the burden of a sad existence. But she is innocent of any crime. Just like those who came before her, she is but another inconsolable story of despair. There can only be one culprit: evil in the hearts of men.
The man in the street is chasing after his dreams. He sees people and understands what he must do as a human being. But, just like the others, he is overwhelmed by the promise of easy money. He will gamble his life in exchange for that temporary relief from the agony and ills of a life that is lived as if each day were the last. Soon, he is to meet his destiny, and his soul is cast into ignominy in a world that could not care less.
But then, there are those among us who live in the shadows of their real lives. They often appear in the most expensive clothing, their true nature hidden from the crowd. The words that come from their mouth bespeak honor and pride, but deep inside their heart can only be greed and hypocrisy. They make decisions for the millions among us, denigrating what the spirit of democracy is supposed to mean.
Every dying man can only have one wish for the child that he will leave behind. And that is for the whole world to love this young human being that he will soon forsake. But is there hope in this world? Mugabe may have gotten his facts correct, but he was wrong in spirit. There is no hope in this world for Mugabe because he has since become an oppressor of his own people with his corrupt ways and reign of terror.
Many among us have risen above that deplorable state of affairs in life through sheer faith, diligence, and hard work. So there is always an alternative for every child out there—good education. This country might have been broken, divided by a clash of ideologies, but our soul as a people is not that of a heartless barbarian. Indeed, there is nothing that this nation will not be able to overcome.
Christopher Ryan Maboloc teaches philosophy at Ateneo de Davao University. He completed his master’s degree in applied ethics at Linkoping University in Sweden and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway.
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