THE VIEW FROM RIZAL
By DR. JUN YNARES
“We never expected that our children would experience a major crisis in their lifetime.”
This was the text message I got from a friend recently. Earlier, we were in a conversation where we examined the New Normal and the consequences that the rapid and significant changes in our times could have on the future of our children.
In many ways, our generation of parents had worked so hard in the hope that our children could have more comfortable lives than ours. We had hoped that their generation would be spared from the serious political and economic crises which we and our parents ahead of us needed to face. We attempted to provide them not just with roofs over their head – we also wanted to build a fortress around our children which no major crises could penetrate.
And then, COVID-19 happened.
We realized we can shield them from the virus.
We cannot shield them from the effects and the aftermath of this deadly virus on the economic and social systems we had previously relied on and become accustomed to.
The pandemic and the resulting New Normal will define the character of their generation.
They will shape the thinking and the view of life of our children the same way that the Second World War influenced those of our grandparents; the way the Martial Law years shaped those of our parents; the way the EDSA Revolution affected those of our generation.
The crises that every generation of Filipinos faces always create much uncertainty.
According to our elders, every crisis inflicts a deep and lasting wound on the soul of the generation which experienced them.
Filipinos also emerge better, much stronger after they have undergone one.
That is guaranteed. As a father, I look forward to the discovering the better, stronger version of my children as the emerge victorious over this present crisis.
Dr. Jose Rizal’s generation went through its own adversity.
The crisis of his generation spawned greatness and gave birth to heroes.
So, as the nation celebrates the national hero’s 159th birth anniversary on June 19, we are sharing with our young readers the three of his most outstanding qualities which we feel are worth emulating. These qualities must have helped him face hardships and keep his generation dreaming of – and fighting – for freedom.
We culled this from a column we published some two years ago. They are still relevant today.
Consider the following things about the national hero.
First, he was a voracious reader.
Second, he worked with his hands.
Third, he made it a habit to triumph over adversity.
Rizal scholar Esteban de Ocampo and historian Ambeth Ocampo attest that the national hero was an incurable fan of written works by some of the world’s best- known authors.
According to them, among the late hero’s favorites were the popular novels The Three Musketeers, The Count of Montecristo, and Robinson Crusoe.
It may be safe to assume that the major characters in those novels had a major influence in Dr. Rizal. He appears to have been inspired by the adventurous, swashbuckling spirit of these character. Those who have read these novels would also recall that their authors emphasized the classic battles between good and evil, between the oppressed and their oppressors.
His appetite for the classics and his reading habits must have trained Dr. Rizal’s mind to be creative and imaginative.
Imagination, child psychologists point out, is important in human development. It is what brings about so-called “critical thinking” and “creative problem-solving skills.”
In layman’s terms, these are one’s abilities to see and examine all sides of a situation and to think out of the box as one searches for solutions.
The superb intellect of our national hero did not stop him from also using his hands to create. He painted. He sculpted. He planted. He did carpentry. He knew how to do blue-collar work.
I believe working with one’s hands is good for the mind, body, and soul. The hands are the tools used by the mind to create. The work of the hands is proof of how rich one’s mind is.
That it is good exercise for the body needs no further explanation.
That it is good for the soul is also worth appreciating. Working with the hands helps one remain humble, to stay attached to the earth, and to prefer simplicity over extravagance and clutter.
Finally, Dr. Rizal had this enviable habit of overcoming the blows that life had dealt him. His mother was unjustly charged and imprisoned. He was maligned, vilified, and subjected to an unfair trial. None of these stopped him from bringing the strength of his character and spirit and the brilliance of his mind from coming into full display.
Adversities did not break him. They merely serve as opportunities for him to bring out his best.
It will be good to encourage our youth to revisit the life of Dr. Rizal and to appreciate those aspects of him that made him one of the greatest persons to ever walk the earth.
We are sure our children will not be disappointed by what they will discover.
Happy birthday, Dr. Rizal.
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