Recently, while I was in my Economics 102 class; my professor was discussing the time she spent in the Philippines with her family for 2 months during the summer of her Sophomore year transitioning to her Junior year of college. This was a part of our lesson on differing “economic growths” amongst countries. She was telling us that she had always been interested in listening to the news and also reading news articles on global affairs. This would certainly be a lesson I never forgot.
Certainly then, she must have expected that her trip to her family’s home country would be one of interesting encounters and experiences.
She told us that the moment they landed in Manila (the capital of the Philippines), her family and her could already see the heavy military presence roaming throughout the airport and the streets of the capital city. She remembered vividly picking up a newspaper during the walk, and reading about some governmental issues that were growing worse by the day.
This experience she had, happened in 2011-2012. Certainly, times in the Philippines have changed since then. In some ways, life in the Phillipines has become similar to life in the U.S., in that the economy is lagging a bit, and many working-aged individuals are finding it increasingly difficult to find permanent and somewhat consistent work.
At any rate, she remembered also reading about the drug problem the Philippines was faced with; and how the government was dealing with it. In truth, the government in the Philippines was dealing with this problem in a rather “direct” manner. The military had been given orders by the then-President Benigno Aquino III. He had told the military to “gun-down” any drug trafficking going on, and any drug users caught in the act.
Certainly, this kind of dictation of extreme orders was not taken lightly. It was seen as quite the upset throughout the Philippines. Many people understood that the implications of such a serious mandate.
In time, my professor saw both the good and the bad side of the Philippines. She remembers fondly though on the good; and reminisces on how the people in her family’s home village were always working hard, always finding meaning in their familial lives, and always willing to help a stranger out in need of aid. She remembers how connected she felt with these people, and how she even enjoyed having to go to the local village’s “water pump” to gather buckets of water for her family and neighbors. She felt as though she had a deeper connection with not only her family, but her community as well. To be looked up and praised by the elders and the children was something she remembers with a kindred heart.
Perhaps the lesson in her time living in the Philippines, is that she finally understood what it meant to live a life full of purpose. You see, even though we are certainly blessed in the states with the possible opportunities we may achieve; we are severely lacking any concrete community throughout our towns, our cities, and even our homes. There is a lack of deeper purpose, even though we may hate to admit it. Though America may have more security in terms of job prospects (even though it is quite low in security if you think about it), it doesn’t necessarily equate to happier lives. Of course, no country is perfect, and in these times of darkness, we must choose what we desire more.
That’s why there’s that old saying: “Would you rather be dirt poor and have all the unconditional love in the world? Or, would you rather be filthy rich and miserably lonely?” It’s a question we must all ask ourselves at different stages of our lives. I believe people, for a time, choose to be filthy rich; and then when they have invested some of their hard-earned money into long-term assets (for their personal income, that is), then they choose to work lower-demand jobs so that they can focus on what really matters in their lives: their family.
You see, life in the Philippines may not be anywhere near as “economically productive” as America, but let’s face it: America and the other 1st world countries are losing their “well-paid” workforce at a faster rate than ever imagined. We are, in some regards and respect, seeing a workforce which is paid lesser and lesser with every passing year. The quality of living is certainly still high in comparison to a lot of economically impoverished countries such as South Sudan, Venezuela, and countless others; but we cannot be so foolish enough to think we are “above” the competition. We are certainly like any other country, susceptible to loss and growth. No matter what happens though, we must remember that we are all a part of a community.
Of course, I also understand the other side of the argument. Many people may not feel aligned with this kind of thinking – and for good reason on their behalf. Competition in the job market is fierce; beyond any reasonable or rational demand. It’s quite disheartening to know that we are forever-competing against our fellow men and women. It leaves little-to-no-room for sympathy or compassion. In fact, it creates an environment of blood-thirsty psychopaths who understand all-too-well the alternative fate. Life is not all peachy after all; and some truths are better left unspoken.
So with that stated, I will end this post on a happier note. Remember, no matter your current situation or plight; you and I understand that what truly matters in the end are the memories we create in this lifetime. It is about the hard work we put into creating a life worth living; not about the hard work alone. Life is about making the best of the cards you were dealt from the beginning. No matter what you go through, remember that at the end of the day – you must sleep with the knowledge of your actions. Because in truth, nobody in the world is a winner. The only “winners” in life, are those who understand the importance of love and growth; who understand that pettiness are just a past-time of wasted energy and wasted potential.
Whether you choose to be economically strong or to be surrounded by people who truly love you; life is but a stage upon which we all play a part in. Don’t lose sight of what you truly desire in life, and remember that you must make necessary sacrifices in order to attain any semblance of economic riches and glory. But in the end; was it worth it all? Was that success worth the otherwise love and compassion you would have otherwise felt if you worked hard and led a life full of humbleness? The answer is different for every human being, and thus, only you and God alone must make that decision. Whatever you do, know that none of us leave this world without a few scars here-and-there. May your day be one of good intentions, for the light of night is upon us once more…
Forever in Your Debt,