THE SUNNY PHILOSOPHER by Salvador D. Flor, Ph. D. | Deprived of their birthright |

THERE is the touching story of a ditch digger, a caminero in the Bicol dialect, who is so poor that he does not have the time to look at the beautiful sunset because he worries about the oil to light the lamp when darkness falls.

Asked by a passersby why he keeps on digging the ditch, he said, “I dig the ditch to earn money to buy food to give me strength to ditch the ditch.”

The answer reveals a man, a desperately poor man, who is so occupied with earning a living that he has little time to see the lovely sunset. His is a ceaseless struggle that knows no end.

There are millions of ditch diggers whose plight is desperate. They have beseeched heaven for a lighter burden but received no comforting answer.

And so, they have made a wager: anybody, yes anybody, who can take away their burden, will have their eternal gratitude. Many have tried. Many have failed.

Now we know, it is never a walk in the park to remove this yoke. One has to dismantle the oppressive system that keeps the bondage intact. There is a formidable corporation from those who will be adversely affected. They do not want the government to succeed.

The ditch digger is still digging the ditch.

Simple folk, he has a simple dream: to have three meals a day, to have a roof over his head, to have clothes to ward off the cold at night, to have a decent job and savings for the children’s education.

He does not have the grandiose dream of owning a house and lot in a subdivision, or owning a car, or vacationing in far off places to consume the exotic wonders.

But if he could have a little more of his dream, he would welcome the blessings. He is entitled to a share in the wealth of the land and he knows it. It is his birthright.

For a long time, he has been deprived of his birthright because it has been taken away by people entrusted to hold it for him. It is high time he should have his part.

We should be thankful that Filipinos hate violence as a means to take back what are theirs. In other countries, every insult, every instance of oppression, every instance of violence, every drop of blood spilled, people match it with the same hell fire.

Look at Syria today and Iraq. They are burning.

One quality of our people that deserves to be stressed is the rejection of violence. The peaceful Edsa 1 revolt is an example. The bloodless revolt has earned for the country the admiration of the world.

There is one ingredient in the Filipino character that rejects bloodshed. The Catholic faith teaches peace. And the belief that whosoever suffers injustice will be rewarded in the afterlife.

The rejection of violence is said to be the reason why extremism does not take roots here. What we in abundance are bloodthirsty felons who do not believe in any cause.

As long as their pockets are full, the community is safe. But make their lives miserable and hell will break loose.

The crimes of these men, however, are mostly the crimes of the poor. Like murder, like drug trafficking, like robbery, like kidnapping, they are mostly committed by those with only the shirts on their back as their worldly wealth.

However, numerous are these common crimes are, the damage to public coffers in minimal. But plunder has impoverished the country. They are committed by those with so much in life.

Our honorable solons want to penalize plunder with a slap on the wrist. This is madness.
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