August 29, 2004

Garbage In, Garbage Out

I can still remember those high school days of being assigned to read novels such as Iliad, J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye (which I got bored reading) and short stories by Guy de Maupassant. The material was scarce since we have to contend ourselves with xeroxed copies or have to fight among our classmates for the the limited supply of battered novels from the library. Thus, we were not really honed to appreciate thick written works much more read classical literature.

But if teachers and school administrators try to intensify their literacy campaign by assigning more book reports, initiating literature contests and procuring more novels and classical works, only then perhaps the students can have a more solid and meaningful foundation for their careers. Their vocabulary will expand, they will be able to engage in intelligent and impassioned conversation about history, politics and culture and they'll become aware of different idealogies that will mold their mental outlook. They will not become mere puppets of the media, the government or the church but they will form credible and rational opinions about relationships, justice and progress for which they shall apply later in life.

But alas, nothing like this happens. Not in a large scale. We see whiny students in endless conversations about mindless plots from telenovelas. We see narrow-minded politicians and housewives who cannot stomach anything that's not endorsed by their local priest. We see people believing every propaganda the government gives them without even consulting credible sources. We see stupid crowds salivating at stupid air-headed starlets during election campaigns- campaigns which doesn't address the issues of population control, food security, housing, etc. We see clueless contestants who cannot identify "The Sleeping Giant." We see apathetic college students and employees ignorant of the current state of their environment and who are clueless about their rights and privileges.

I mean, our way of thinking has become a pool of water conforming to whatever shape the surface gives it and trickling down wherever gravity is strong. Many have lost their capacity to think. We have become jaded, cynical and passive most of the time. Our heads are filled with garbage from telenovelas to Eat Bulaga to Kris Aquino's latest tantrum. As they say, "Garbage in, garbage out."

The implications of a mind that does not read are immense. Without reading on history and learning from it, we are doomed to repeat the consequences of our perinneal bad habits. Another is that we are contented to become disposable employees rather than entrepreneurs. Look at the Chinese: they are voracious readers of self-improvement books like Johnson's "Who Moved My Cheese?" so that they have an idea on how to be successful. We are happy to what is doled out to us without question and our lack of imagination (that was not developed due to inadequate reading perhaps) prevents us from pursuing a higher level in life, just like GMA whose method of governace has the imagination proportional to her height.

It saddens me that these things are happening to us. Are we that cursed? I just hope that we shall enough time to flood our brains and purge the garbage within. And plant the seeds for the next generation. It's all a matter of time I guess.

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