Sense of country is rooted to sense of community
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2011-03-22
The world marveled at how the Japanese people, especially those in the areas that were affected by the earthquake, tsunami and damaged nuclear plant in Northeastern Japan, had absorbed their extraordinary personal and collective tragedies with such grace under fire. The Japanese people had exemplified what Khalil Gibran once described as walking under water as if promenading in the garden.

The over 100 workers who worked the nuclear plants in Fukushima despite the already hazardous level of radiation leak displayed remarkable dedication and heroism. In another democratic and developed country, it is doubted if their nuclear plant workers can be persuaded to still enter the hazardous premises after the risk was already established. Nobody can blame a worker for not wanting to take that risk.

The primary obligations of workers are to their lives and the needs of their families. They entered the labor force in order to improve their lives and that of their families — not to endanger themselves. However, that is precisely the hallmark of greatness being displayed by these dedicated Japanese nuclear plant workers — rising above the normal call of duty for the sake of people and country.

Two things were quite evident — the Japanese people had a strong sense of country and a strong sense of community. One feeds the other. A strong sense of country can only be enhanced by a strong sense of community. It’s unlikely that you’ll find a person who will be passionately patriotic if that person does not even feel any affinity to his community.

A person’s sense of country is found in his psyche but you’ll find a sense of community in that person’s heart. If you go through the heroic sagas in history, you will find that heart more than mind is what pushes mortals to become heroes. Your mind will convince you that a heroic death may not be the best option. It is your heart that will stir the passion in you to be like one of the 300 Spartans of Thermopylae.

At the core of our sense of country and sense of community is our sense of shared history. Like tempered steel, the great nations went through intense trials by fire. It was the intense fire that molded them. In the Philippine context, it is this weak sense of history that prevents us from having the same patriotic intensity of the Japanese. To begin with, very few Filipinos know their real history.

Your Chair Wrecker was part of the panel of a Media Symposium that was held last March 10 (aired over NBN-4 last March 17, 7 p.m.) at the Asian Institute of Management SGV Hall. Moderated by Cultural Center of the Philippines president Emily Abrera, the panel also featured the Inquirer’s Conrad de Quiros, TV5 News head DJ Sta. Ana, Edsa People Power Commissioner Ogie Alcasid, political activist Mae Paner, Good Governance advocate Teresita Ang See, Community Organizer June Joson and Good Citizenship advocate Alex Lacson. The discussion focused on bringing People Power to the next higher level, if instead of removing a bad government People Power can be used to build a strong nation.

Consensus was reached on the following:

1. People Power must be elevated to doing something positive like community building and promoting participatory democracy.
2. People Power must be used to repair the Filipino damaged culture, our counterproductive attitudes and mindsets.

3. People Power must be propagated as part of daily life, not just as a “last two minutes” national remedy for bad governance, through the admirable Filipino tradition of Bayanihan.

4. All these efforts will be for naught if Filipinos do not know and understand their real history.

How can you truly love a country that you do not really know? How can you be proud of your race when you do not even know the relevance of significant past events to your present existence? How can you have a patriotic passion in your heart when you have a very shallow consciousness of what it is to be a Filipino?

Three major undertakings will address this shallow Filipino appreciation of Philippine history. The first is the rewriting of the history text books being used in schools. It’s time Filipinos know who are the real heroes and the real Quislings. The second is to teach the history teachers how to teach history properly where the significance of past events is correlated to present conditions. Presently, Filipinos can recall names, dates and events but hardly appreciate how all these made our country what it is today. The third is that the teaching of Philippine history must promote patriotism and nationalism.

Those who are aspiring for a great goal in life are often advised to first know thy self. Knowing thy self will tell you your real capabilities and limitations. In like manner, if Filipinos are to build a strong nation — then it’s imperative that all Filipinos know their real history.

It’s utterly illogical to expect a Filipino to want to die for a country that he hardly knows and appreciates. Past heroes are what inspire and mold a nation’s present day heroes.

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

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A great disservice to P-Noy

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