All ours to take

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By Myke U. Obenieta


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

NO WEATHER raises the value of some virtues, ever so heartwarming, better than the chill of December. Consider kindness, for instance.

Never mind if this season for celebrating selflessness originated on an ungracious note. Remember how someone bluntly declared “no room in the inn” and destined the most earthshaking birth to the humblest manger.

From then on, it seems our saving grace out of guilt could be handy only by wringing dry the delight that this time of year traditionally begets—an orgy for urging ourselves, or our better angels, to reach out after picking our hearts from our pockets.

Money, we’re told, must be put where our mouths are. Or else, how dare us speak of charity?

How wonderful if we could afford to be as good as some Americans featured in a 2011 report in the Christian Science Monitor about a global poll that showed “Americans are more apt to donate to a charity, volunteer, or help a stranger than residents of 152 other countries.”

They scored another world record in 2012, according to the national data bank on philanthropy called Giving USA.

“Whether measured per capita or as a share of national wealth, charity in other countries doesn't come close”—about $223 billion out of the $316 billion donated to charitable institutions came not “from foundations or corporations” but “from individuals” and “American households.”

Homeland insecurity, more so when the economy reeled through the recession, seemed passé as Americans appeared to have detoured from the so-called culture of
consumption, if not disproved former president Jimmy Carter whose 2014 pronouncement sounded true only to Scrooge.

Imputing American apathy “to the suffering of others around the world,” Carter lamented: “It’s a different world from ours. And we don’t really care about what happens to them.”

To us who must endure “Third World” indignities, attesting to the spree of American generosity in the wake of the earthquake and typhoon in the Visayas can be a breeze.

Of course, there’s another time for the other unfortunate story— the messed-up socioeconomic legacy of our colonial experience—best left after the yuletide. In the meantime, we make do with what the fates left us to take.

Giving up, after all, is only for the hopeless to accomplish. The needy will always be with us where we never run out of calamities that have become too casual for comfort.

Given that disasters are also of our own making, with our surplus of abuse and inefficiency, it’s as if Santa Claus left us Pinoys nothing less than Pandora’s box.

And so, like the wisdom from the Greeks in seeing no gift horse in the mouth, better be wary than sorry. Such as the suspicion of a Cebu City councilor who squinted at the prospect of “almost P100-million financial assistance that the executive department is proposing to give next year to policemen serving the city, maritime police, National of Bureau of Investigation (NBI) personnel, firemen and judges.”

Can we afford such generosity, she wondered. Such uncertainty, no matter how inconvenient, is acceptable where disbelief and discontent are as constant as the cruelty of our incontinent weather.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 05, 2013.


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