Sunday, June 15, 2008

Putting The Blame

One evening...
(Angrily): "Someone told me that you received bribe money from the mayor today! Five thousand pesos for you to approve a spending bill, if I am not mistaken. You should be ashamed of yourself!"
Town Official (placatingly): "Come on, darling. Not so loud or the neighbors might overhear us."
Wife: "I don't care! How can you you justify what you did? That's corruption!"
Town Official (indignant): "I did not ask for it! The money was simply given to me and everyone got a share. If I had refused it all the others would be embarrassed and put on the spot. Corruption is when you demand or extort money for favors and I did neither. Therefore I did nothing wrong!"

Outside the polling station during the last elections...
Voter 1
(boasting): "I voted for Juan for mayor and was paid P500 for my vote."
Voter 2 (shaking his head): "Fool! Juan is a crook and if he becomes mayor he will loot the town treasury and do nothing for the town. I voted for Pedro. He may not have money to buy votes but he is sincere about serving this town and has the vision to do it. You could have helped him with your vote."
Voter 1 (incredulously): "You're an idiot! I and my family voted for Juan and got P2000 for all our votes. We have money now to buy rice and other things plus our candidate will win. He may be a crook but he will be the mayor and owe us big time for our support. Your candidate will lose and you never got any money, so whose the fool now?"

One morning...
Town Official's Aide
: "Good morning., sir. There are people waiting outside the house for you."
Town Official (wary): "What do they want?"
Aide: "Asking for money and help as usual. One is asking you for money to help pay the hospital bills of his son. Another needs help because she cannot pay her electricity bill and the electric company may cut the power for her house. And there is one who needs bus fare to visit his daughter who is a student in Davao."
Town Official (exasperated): "Jesus! I already bought their votes in the last election and now I have to keep forking out money to keep myself in their good graces. I can't be doing that all the time. They'll ruin and bankrupt me!"
Aide (whispering): "Remember, sir, the next election is just more than a year away. We can't afford to disappoint these people."
Town Official (resignedly): "Better call my wife. I'm going to need more money."

When one views the mess Lianga is in nowadays, it is easy to play the victim and blame it all on the troubled world economy, the global food and fuel crisis, corruption in both the national and local government, man's general wickedness and his punishment for flaunting the laws of God, and of course, the perennial favorite: plain and simple bad luck. The ordinary man in the street, therefore, is just the unfortunate and helpless victim of circumstances largely beyond his control.

But as these anecdotes, which happen to be based on actual and true events will show, the real fault, as the Bard of Avon succinctly said, is not in the stars (or elsewhere) but in ourselves. We, ourselves, are guilty of causing much of the problems we all suffer from today in our very own community.

Not so much because we are as corrupt as those we have put into office supposedly to serve us and have abused the democracy we have all professed to cherish. Not so much because by our greed and selfishness we have damaged and poisoned our environment, wasted its resources and are suffering from the consequences of such abuse and profligacy. But more so because of our indifference and cowardice in allowing all these bad things to happen and worsen without raising our voices in protest and opposition.

In Lianga, we reap what we have sown. We cannot point to others for the blame because the guilt of others is also our own. We are, in truth and in the final analysis, our own worst enemy.

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