OpinionIn my time, all the time?
In my time, all the time?
February 17, 2019
February 17, 2019

The first time I saw the UVs and buses dropping off students by the North gate I couldn’t help but exhale my jealousy.

I remember when my blockmates and I would trek to Harrison Plaza every Saturday morning for our NSTP immersions. This was way back when we used to take jeeps to our immersion sites. While there were plenty of good memories mixed in—our block had a rather ​thrilling ​time when it came to those jeeps.

I’m certain that our safety was one of the utmost priorities, but it was by some ironic twist of fate that our block got into three accidents in a matter of two consecutive weeks: our jeep got hit by a car, our jeep hit a motorcycle, and the most memorable would be when our jeep’s engine started smoking in the middle of Quezon Avenue—and all of us filed out like ants running from water.

I felt old as I watched these young fresh-faced frosh climb down their gleaming bus. I remembered the sweat and oil that clung to our faces after a long humid day in the jeep. I admit that after I got over the shock, my primary emotion was jealousy. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel any sort of resentment at how comfortable the younger batches have it compared to “my generation”.

My generation. Such a loaded term.

How many times have we heard that used against us? How many times have we been perceived as weaker and softer than those who came before us?

Perhaps the most poignant realization of this phenomenon is when I read that many fraternity members believe that hazing is necessary—it would be “unfair” for those who went through beatings and then have new members join without experiencing the pain firsthand. While my example with jeeps and UVs pale in comparison to this, I can’t help but draw similarities. I resented these frosh for not going through what my block did with the jeeps, but then I questioned myself: Is it fair for me to wish upon them the same experience? No, it is not and it is time to break this cycle of ill will—in all aspects of life.

Just because someone didn’t go through the exact same hardships as you did doesn’t mean that they should.

I strongly suspect that this is where a lot of stagnancy stems from—jealousy that the change didn’t happen during their time, and resentment that others are having it “easier” than us. This is when we fail to empathize. Caught up in the whirlwind that is our life we forget that our experiences aren’t supposed to be universal. We scorn others for not having it as “bad” as us—and we are blind to our own hypocrisy.

I am a hypocrite. I resented how older generations believe mine to be weaker than theirs, not understanding that their world is different for ours. In turn, I resented the frosh who don’t have to worry about their jeep ​maybe exploding in the middle of a highway. I resented the new curriculum for the latest batch of Literature students because it ​looks more fulfilling than what my batch went through. It’s easy to point fingers without first directing it at ourselves.

Shouldn’t we be happy for those that don’t ​have ​to go through the negative experiences we did? Shouldn’t we be ​thrilled that there is progress? Those who want things to remain the same—meaningless suffering for no other reason than it would be unfair for those who came before—when there are better achievable alternatives are selfish. There is no defendable reason for us to be complicit in stagnancy.

C​ontra mundum​—against the world. I heard a variation of the term used in the stunning film ​Ang Larawan—​Contra mundo. I cannot tell you what exactly it means as I myself don’t understand it in all its gleaming facets; but I can share with you a bit of how I interpret it. It is reinventing what I thought the world is meant to be—learning and unlearning behavior that I thought and believed was right. It is going against my own idealized version of the world, and understanding that it is more complex than I could ever hope to understand; but I will try. I will always—try to be better than who I was before.

It is Saturday morning and the breeze is cool to the touch. The frosh climb up their bus one by one; I wish them well. Ingat.

(Stay safe.)