In this Information Age, Filipinos are encountering a personal net loss when they unwittingly lose track of the more important pursuit of values and wisdom in their mad scramble to acquire data and updates. People are caught in this mania for trivia, for the most part, but trivia that hardly contribute to the formation of better thinking individuals and members of society.
Information and the latest technology had become part of the culture of consumerism which had captured the person in the 21st century. It is this culture of consumerism which Pope Benedict XVI had denounced as responsible for making a person lose one’s sense of history. This consumerism makes people lose track of their past and thus lose sight of their future.
It would be interesting if a reputable research firm undertakes an in-depth study of the role models young Filipinos emulate these days. In the days of our youth, we would be inspired and guided by real life heroes and the fictional heroes of classic literature whom we have learned to admire and hero worship.
How many of the young folks these days would look up to a Bill Gates rather than a Thomas More? How many of the young folks these days would prefer to imagine themselves as a Jason Bourne instead of a Cyrano de Bergerac?
Thomas More and Cyrano de Bergerac were intentionally selected by your Chair Wrecker for this discussion, the former, a real life hero and the latter a hero of classic literature. Authored by Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac was originally written in French and was eventually translated into English.
Thomas More shunned the favor of England’s King Henry VIII in order to uphold his Roman Catholic faith and values. For upholding his Catholic faith, Thomas More lost his position, was jailed, unjustly convicted and subsequently beheaded. How many Filipinos have lost their souls to the devil just to satisfy a lust for power?
Cyrano de Bergerac was deliberately created by Edmond Rostand to look physically challenged. His author gave Cyrano an extraordinarily large nose. That extraordinarily large nose was intended to contrast with Cyrano’s wit, principles, intellectual prowess, sagacious character, bravado, romantic passion and legendary swordsmanship. In other words, Edmond Rostand wanted to highlight that were it not for his unusually large nose Cyrano would have been a perfect specimen of a human being.
Cyrano loathed hypocrisy, especially the fawning on powerful and influential people. He would rather antagonize instead of fawn on a powerful nobleman. Aristocrats and influential persons wanted to become Cyrano’s patron but he opted to be their foe instead something few people in the world would ever think of doing.
Cyrano’s denouncement of the trappings of power and influence was captured in his “What would you have me do” lines, as follows:
“What would you have me do?
Seek for the patronage of some great man,
And like a creeping vine on a tall tree
Crawl upward, where I cannot stand alone?
No thank you! Dedicate, as others do,
Poems to pawnbrokers? Be a buffoon
In the vile hope of teasing out a smile
On some cold face? No thank you! Eat a toad
For breakfast every morning? Make my knees
Callous, and cultivate a supple spine,
Wear out my belly groveling in the dust?
No thank you! Scratch the back of any swine
That roots up gold for me? Tickle the horns
Of Mammon with my left hand, while my right
Too proud to know his partner’s business,
Takes in the fee? No thank you! Use the fire
God gave me to burn incense all day long
Under the nose of wood and stone? No thank you!
Shall I go leaping into ladies’ laps
And licking fingers? or to change the form
Navigating with madrigals for oars,
My sails full of the sighs of dowagers?
No thank you! Publish verses at my own
Expense? No thank you! Be the patron saint
Of a small group of literary souls
Who dine together every Tuesday? No
I thank you! Shall I labor night and day
To build a reputation on one song,
And never write another? Shall I find
True genius only among Geniuses,
Palpitate over little paragraphs,
And struggle to insinuate my name
In the columns of the Mercury?
No thank you! Calculate, scheme, be afraid,
Love more to make a visit than a poem,
Seek introductions, favors, influences?
No thank you! No, I thank you! And again
I thank you! - But...
To sing, to laugh, to dream
To walk in my own way and be alone,
Free, with a voice that means manhood to cock my hat
Where I choose At a word, a Yes, a No,
To fight or write. To travel any road
Under the sun, under the stars, nor doubt
If fame or fortune lie beyond the bourne
Never to make a line I have not heard
In my own heart; yet, with all modesty
To say: “My soul, be satisfied with flowers,
With fruit, with weeds even; but gather them
In the one garden you may call your own.”
So, when I win some triumph, by some chance,
Render no share to Caesar in a word,
I am too proud to be a parasite,
And if my nature wants the germ that grows
Towering to heaven like the mountain pine,
Or like the oak, sheltering multitudes
I stand, not high it may be but alone!”
There are still such persons like Cyrano de Bergerac in the world today who can shun the temptation to acquire power and intentionally avoid the company of those who wield great power and influence. Instead of admiring those who are able to land powerful positions and plant themselves in the so-called inner circle, we should recognize, admire and hail the few who can be like Cyrano.
Just as what we eat shapes us, we are also formed by those whom we admire and emulate.
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