Posted by: mensab | October 25, 2007

Look up, look far, look beyond

Look up!

When I was a kid, I learned to pay respect by extending my hand to hold the person’s hand and knocking that hand on my forehead while bowing. In my culture, the gesture is called “bisa” in Bikol  or “mano” in Tagalog. It is customary to bow and say “po” to the elders.

Bowing in many cultures is a sign of respect to elders. Then, colonialism bastarded the meaning of bowing as submission and sign of inferiority, regardless of age. So it was common sight to see local elders bowing to young foreign colonizers. Another notion on bowing is that it is being connected to humility (I am no worthy, plus bow! as popularized in a certain movie). It is exemplified when one is praised for doing excellently (magaling or maorag in Bikol), and usually that person will bow and denounce the praise as untrue (hindi naman o tsamba lang). I say this is not humility, nor respect. If we truly respect our skills, ourselves, and capabilities, we will not bow; instead we will look up and say, “thank you.” That is humility. That is respect.

 Look far!

At times, we are so concerned of our territory. Animals as we are, we do establish our territorial dignity. We feel attached to wherever we are situated. This is shown when someone says something bad to our place, we feel offended. We build our world around that place where we are. We take pleasure and contentment in the familiarity and ordinariness of our place and people. This can be observed in the locations where students normally sit. Day after day, they will be comfortable sitting in one location. It is like the movies of our favorite actors or directors, our favorite food, our close friends. Because they are familiar, we repeatedly take refuge in the psychological continuities of our stories and boundaries of our world.

 Are we missing something? For some, they believe they don’t miss anything. But I will argue that we do. We deprive ourselves of the spatial extension of ourselves, of seeing new things, of discovering, of being surprised, of detaching, and of course, of failing. So many things to learn, to do, to think, and with all those things, we can be assured that there are many more out there. Can you see them?

Look beyond!

Unknowingly for us, there exists a horizon where other people live. And when we know about that horizon and the existence of others and their differences from us, we feel scared. We are intimidated by the knowledge,  sight and sound of the uncommon. It is OK. At least, we know that we are not alone, and we are not the world.

Let me take your hand, or take my hand.. Let us together look up…. look far… and beyond


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