Thursday, December 10, 2009

Don't blink

In the car, I watched as a girl of about 10 made her way out of the jeepney in front of us. She had come to ask for alms, probably hoping that the nippy December air would rouse generosity in the passengers. She had to rush out as the jeepney started to move and, in her haste, the coins she had collected spilled out onto the pavement. She stood helplessly as the cars zoomed past, unmindful of her distress...

On a different day, I saw a lanky teenage boy holding an empty container of petrol with the stubs of his arms where his hands used to be. He went from one car to the other while the sun sizzled directly above him. He probably welcomed the brief moment when a gush of cold air blew out of a car's window, when the driver would roll it down to drop a few coins into his cup...

Blink when you don't like what you see.

Blink to deny the presence of misery in our midst, as if looking means acknowledging your role in its existence.

Blink, as if looking means it's a part of who you are, and there is shame in that.

Blink, as if you think the sorrow you feel from having witnessed these realities is greater than their own.

To live fully is to experience the good with the bad, because the calm is more comforting after chaos and joy is heightened by despair. To live fully, as opposed to a one-dimensional existence. It takes courage to stare depravity in the face, not in apathy but in recognition. Maybe even in silent defiance.

Still, my instinct is to blink. And it's their faces I see when my eyes are closed.

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