Making sense of the changing values in the 21st century

(Part 2 of 2)

Nevertheless, I continue my quest for that state of perfection.  But in my adult years, I have found that this is always a constant process — the unending quest for that “better or ideal” life.  Oftentimes, the roadmap we choose also leads to or create other problems that we never imagined.

In the 21st century, materialism has become a dominant force that constantly tangles with our idealism.  Many people prefer to be known for the material wealth they possess, as opposed to who they are as human beings. This hedonistic love affair and the pursuit of the trappings of material success have exacerbated the socio-economic-cultural-spiritual conditions in our homeland, as the Philippines continue to search and find her own destiny. But your concerns, although normal and valid, should not petrify you into inaction as problems are an integral part of our lives.

I may have been out of the country for many decades now, except for the many ‘balikbayan” (homecoming) trips I have taken, but the pulse of the common tao runs strong in my veins. I can still hear the silent cries of the poor tenants in the fields, the market vendors in the palengke (market) or the beggars or cigarette vendors in the cities of Manila in their daily struggle just to survive the day.

It’s really sad that it seems that God loves the poor so much that He made so many of them.  I often ask, “Why Lord, that there is so much inequality in this world where a few wallow in unconscionable wealth while others cannot even feed their families?”  To rationalize, perhaps, I also hear that despite all these poverty that existed since biblical times, the opportunity to change one’s self, no matter how difficult and challenging it is, still exists, like what you and I did in our lives!

Console yourself, then, that in this life you can never force a man to change unless he wants to.  The best way you can do, I believe, is to provide the role model, or better still, if you can provide some opportunities to others. But then, the person must exert at least 51 percent of the efforts to change.

If you do not succeed in all the people that you wish to help, don’t be alarmed.  Do not be utterly disappointed and make yourself unhappy or discouraged.  Go ahead, just do your best and not be concerned with the results all the time!

Every day in our lives, we are confused with the challenges and with it comes the problems to be solved, which we alone must tackle.  In the final analysis, we cannot ask others what the meaning of our life is, but rather each man must recognize that it is something he must ask himself.  Truly, each of us is questioned by life and it is only us who can answer to our own life and we can only respond by being responsible.  Life is indeed a mystery to be lived, and never a problem to be solved.

Lastly, I would like to mention, Letty, that your frustrations and urge to question many things is not uncommon. It happens to each one of us often. We can still be that lotus plant that is thrown into a polluted pond of water.  In God mysterious ways, that lotus plant with water and sunlight thrives and bear beautiful flowers and in the process also purifies the water beneath its roots.  During those moments of self-doubts, which they always come,  it is worthwhile to remember and pray St. Francis’ “Prayer for Serenity”:

“Lord please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference!”

As your elder brother, I must tell you, Letty, that life never offers any guarantees. There are no simple solutions to our problems.  There really are no safe roads to take. Each day comes is a new adventure, a new experience, and there will be no promises. Anything else that contradicts this maxim probably is really unimportant in the scheme of things and you must try not to waste time thinking about it. Therefore, just spend and enjoy your life every day as if it’s the last day of your life here on Earth!

Love and prayers always,

Your brother Ernie

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