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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Any bright ideas, anyone?

To my relief, Friday was declared a holiday by PGMA for whatever reason I do not need to know. It would have been a perfect day had the administration in my school did not ask the teachers to report for work just the same. Oh well, what can I do, right? Otherwise, I could have started on a new painting project I have been meaning to do, bloghop, write, and more importantly, I could have done a medical procedure where I collect my urine for 24 hours for a microalbumin test and sent it to the lab Saturday... but no, I have to go to school.

The good thing is I got to read something from Bertrand Russell a man who was very popular in the 70's. Our HS philosophy teacher, my friend, Mr. Cicero Cortel, (why do I find the name too apt?) shared to me Mr. Russell's Philosophy for Laymen which appears in Unpopular Essays.

In this article, Russell claims that civilized man has always been confronted by two main problems. These are: acquiring the knowledge and the skill required to produce tools and weapons and to encourage Nature in the production of useful animals and plants and how best to utilize our command over the forces of nature. This includes such burning issues as democracy versus dictatorship, capitalism versus socialism, international government versus international anarchy, free speculation versus authoritarian dogma. The first problem is relatively easy as we have learned to deal with it through the acquisition of skill. Science and Technology, more or less, have given us temporary solutions to our problems. We have learned to train, what Russell calls "narrow specialists".

However, things are not what they seem to be:
It will be found that increase of skill has not, of itself, insured any increase of human happiness or wellbeing. When men first learnt to cultivate the soil, they used their knowledge to establish a cruel cult of human sacrifice. The men who first tamed the horse employed him to pillage and enslave peaceable populations. When, in the infancy of the industrial revolution, men discovered how to make cotton goods by machinery, the results were horrible: Jefferson's movement for the emancipation of slaves in America, which had been on the point of success, was killed dead; child labor in England was developed to a point of appalling cruelty; and ruthless imperialism in Africa was stimulated in the hope that black men could be induced to clothe themselves in cotton goods.


Russell's article reminded me of a very nice novel by Daniel Quinn entitled
Ishmael which was given to me by my friend, Arlene's son, Stephe Tate, while we were browsing the books at National Bookstore when he came here for a visit. The novel is about a man who is educated in the ways of the world, an unorthodox view, I might add, by a gorilla, who communicates with him through mental telepathy. Here we see how the world is divided into "takers" (civilized men) and "leavers" (primitive men). I would suggest if you haven't read this novel to read it. It's quite nice.

Going back to Russell, I was thinking that maybe, just maybe, we, as a race, might have taken a wrong turn somewhere and is now employing a wrong system both politically and economically. We have seen the collapse of Marxism and the Berlin wall. We continue to experiemce the pitfalls of capitalism. We have seen how too much money has turned teen agers like NIcole Ritchie and friend Paris HIlton has turned into wrecks. Well, at least, they are in a society which somehow do not condone their unruly behavior. They will have to serve time in the slammer if only for a short period of time. How many powerful men and women have escaped the hands of the law in a country that is run by corrupt men and women?

We have seen how much basketball stars, playing and doing their thing earn millions of pesos while the unfortunate has to scour the depths of rich man's trash just to find food to put in their mouths. If only we have learned to level the playing field. Maybe it is high time for a new world order. We can probably re-invent the wheel, what i think is the device that brouhgt about the industrial revolution,which in turn, true to its fashion, set the "wheels" in motion for capitalism to take over, and start anew. What it is and how escapes me now and I fear will continue to escape me till my death. But somehow, I feel there is a need for a change in paradigm as our attempts for a peaceful, happy world remains elusive until now.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Dr. Emer said...

In some other lifetime, I bet you'd make a very good priest, Tito Rolly. You give interesting homilies.

I think the underlying fact is that man can never have it all. Peace, harmony, and everyone enjoying fairness will remain an elusive dream even to those who will follow up. As long as greed and vanity exist, it will be very difficult to achieve the solution to Mr. Russell's observation that "increase of skill has not, of itself, insured any increase of human happiness or wellbeing."

Only selflessness and willingness to sacrifice will possibly give way to the solution. But man is not yet ready for that now.

7:29 PM  
Blogger Miki said...

sometimes it seems to me that the world's leaders help others to help themselves. as long as there's an ulterior motive behind every seemingly well-intended act, i doubt we'll achieve that "peaceful, happy world" our leaders are supposedly attempting to achieve.

7:49 PM  
Blogger cbs said...

i read ishmael a long time ago, and it is one of those stories that show an allegorical interaction between man and beast. but in terms of literary impact, kafka's "report to an academy" is more descriptive of that point where human and bestial sentiments intersect.

like ishmael, "report" is about an ape, although here he was captured and trained to be human. after 5 years of training he gave a speech to the academy, and among others he told them he cannot use the word freedom because men do not know it and can only yearn for it.

there is a lesson to learn from ishmael and report to an academy.

3:37 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

Doc Emer Me, a priest? I doubt it. I'm too much of a sinner to be a priest and give sermons. :-)

miki Sometimes you have to understand that these leaders only have their constituents in mind. Whatever they do concerns only their own. And we're talking about the righteous, huh.

cbs NO, i haven't read Kafka's yet. My only Kafka reading is the Metamorphosis and the Trial. I better find myself a copy.

5:57 AM  
Blogger ipanema said...

new world order? reinventing the wheel? i like that. perhaps if the wheel wasn't round, what would industrial revolution bring about? or would it have started in europe? this time around if the wheel is square or whatever shape it may take form, other than a circle, i hope we all have a chance for a better life.

would this be possible? would it really change our life? what will happen if everyone will have food to eat, clothes to cover themselves and roof above their heads? that would seem perfect. but is it attainable?

in our present 'wheel', we all have the chance i think but we never make good or are aware that it was one. perhaps others screwed their chances. perhaps i screwed my chance to get rich. do i still have one last chance?

like a wheel, all i have are questions that go round and round. :)

5:59 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

Ipanema As Dr. Emer has said, a Utopian civilization might not be possible considering our nature. But then, as the saying goes, I can dream, can't I?

8:15 AM  
Anonymous pepe said...

makes me think of john lennon's song, imagine.

3:44 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

Pepe in a way, yes.

4:48 PM  

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MGA TURO NI TITO:
Twenty years of teaching must sure amount to something. A new friend in cyberspace suggested I ought to have a journal by now. I agree.


Taken by my friend Arlene Lawson in her room at Century Park Sheraton in May, 2000.
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Jack of all trade, master of none. First a disclaimer. My students have discovered this blog and they might think that what I write is gospel truth. Worse is they might find an argument that they think they can use, for some reason or another, against their teachers. So, to set the record straight, it is NOT. As a matter of fact, I write and open it to feedback to get another view in the hope that somebody would tell me if I am wrong and reenforce my thinking if it is right. Not that I will accept anything thrown my way, though. Just so I can think about it some more and decide whether my original stance is right or definitely off tangent. So there. I hope that clarifies everything. Now, on to blogging.


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