From the pitfall of pity

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By Myke U. Obenieta

So to speak

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


ALL else is abstinence. Amen, the poor would likely agree as long as adversity is less a matter of choice than a circumstance that renders Lent redundant. Wherever vulnerability appears to be commonplace, there’s no colder interpretation of public domain than deprivation.

Blessed are the poor, with their unavoidable omnipresence, because majority wins. To lose hope may be a constant temptation, but isn’t being consistently less privileged already a penitence?

Calvary doesn’t have to leave us keeling over after kneeling our way uphill. As shown by a sculptor’s unconventional rendition of Christ in an upscale neighborhood at the lakeside town of Davidson in North Carolina, suffering doesn’t need to be spectacular.

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It can be as simple or easy to ignore as the indigent next corner—something that the sculptor wanted to evoke with his installation of a homeless Christ huddling against the cold on a park bench.

That the sculpture became controversial is a testimony to the power of presenting a humdrum reality, like homelessness, in a startling way. What new insight could possibly arise when an old problem is portrayed in a new light?

Dark clouds seem to clog the horizon as long as calamities cast a shadow over our national disposition often described as sunny. Though there’s been much talk about how convenient it is for us to summon the collective spirit of resilience and to breeze through the bullying whim of nature—earthquakes, storms, conflagrations, etc.—uncertainty remains undeniable. Thus the persistent state of being stuck is ironic in the condition of drift that drives home the familiar sense of dispossession or displacement.

Disoriented as political leadership often lives up to its distance from the despair at the grassroots, it has become hardly surprising why the usual woes of those who keep on sinking below the poverty line appear unfathomable. Thus the sound of yawning may as well have echoed from the abyss over a recent report from the Regional Development Council (RDC) in Central Visayas. “Despite economic growth, more families became poor,” ho-hum.

And where there’s no denying the deepening inequities through the layers of social stratification, shallow remain the stopgap measures for alleviating the widespread inconvenience when catastrophes ensue. Indeed, the failure of imagination to cope with recurring crises seems to have permanently conditioned us to live with the banality of incompetence—this evil so inevitable in the scheme of the same old story and its usual characters, such as the steady stream of evacuees who are always en route to relocation sites elsewhere.

Leave the loose path where steps for problem-solving go slidy, and take a leap of faith for something untested. Regarding the problem of homelessness, for instance, the suggestion of a French-Hungarian citizen presently based in Lapu-Lapu City could lead to long-overdue solutions.

As reported, what he called “House of Hope”—easily affordable because it’s made of nothing more than mud braced with the native “buri” fiber—could be all that the restless survivors of the recent typhoon have long needed to withstand the weather’s vagaries. Moreover, the mud house is also “cooler, safer, and healthier.”

Vigorous may be vehemence for out-of-the-box ideas, such as the mud house that its designer has supposedly tried in Europe. Or these could even be conveniently shrugged off as unfeasible.

Given the way things are, however, such an advice or its variation could open more doors into other possibilities for redemption. True, what a bore if we couldn’t bear to raise the roof of the unexpected and make elbowroom for an Easter we can dwell into ever after.

(geemyko@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 16, 2014.

Opinion

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