It is not too late to change our way of life. Amidst the confusion and noise it is still a beautiful world.
It is common news today about many people involved in illegal drugs whether they are users or pushers. Despite the efforts of the police and drug enforcement agencies, there is still a rampant demand for illegal drugs. Many users, pushers and drug lords have been either jailed or killed but the drug industry in the country continues to flourish simply because many people are still buying and using these illegal drugs. The question is why do they (men and women including the youth) continue to patronize or use such substances which have been proven addictive and harmful to the body? Maybe they tried it for curiosity, got hooked and became drug addicts; or it can be purely for pleasure or just to escape the facts of life.
Life they say has become easy and pleasurable due to the advance in technology and science; but we have to pay the price of these modernization. Children have been so used to gadgets and computers such that they are addicted to life of ease, game and pleasure and they have learned to abhor studying in schools and doing simple chores. This is aggravated by emotional imbalance when they see their parents constantly fighting and cheating each other. Other families do not fight but they have no time for each other. Parents who are supposed to be role models for doing good examples to their children and their community are the ones consciously or subconsciously doing bad things that affect the values and emotional growth of the children. The simple throwing of trash anywhere in the street and public places can give the impression to the child that such act is fine and well tolerated. The parents who are drinking liquor and smoking cigarettes can expect their children to follow their examples; how much more for parents who are physically and mentally stressed by the harsh realities of life who became drug addicts and for the worse have learned to sustain their vice by selling illegal drugs. As a result, the child who is still young to know what is good and bad gets confused and eventually tried to express his thoughts and feelings through his “barkada” or peers and through social media. If it is possible to spend the whole day and night laughing and chatting while drinking and smoking or taking drugs with his “barkada”, the confused child will do so because it is for him a way to escape the emotional and mental stress brought about by problems in the family and the community. For him, he is “happy” with: his “barkada”, a cell phone at hand always, the excitement of checking his notification and posts in Facebook and experience a feeling of “high” to the detriment of facing his true situation that will destroy his future. The child later on will finally develop a mind- set of being “happy go lucky” with the notion that other people who “love” him will continue to provide him with what he needs and subsequently become a drug pusher to carry on with his cravings for illegal drugs.
The above condition can happen to all people whether they are wealthy, middle income or poor. Life has become so complex despite the amenities and comfort due to the mechanical and digital boom all around the world that it is impossible to live without suffering stress. Wealthy families usually have no time for each other because the parents are busy with their work to maintain their financial status. Relationships have become more complicated as everyone is “tempted” to do illegal actions for the sake of comfort and social stability. Why are rich politicians involved in graft and corruption in the government? Why are CEOs, Presidents, Vice-Presidents of various corporations engage themselves in money laundering and other illicit activities or relationship? Why do police officers conduct “hulidap” or extortion and kidnapping? Why do ordinary employees and taxi or bus drivers take drugs while they are working? Why do street children inhale solvent and rob people of their belongings? They do these awful things either to cope up with the technological, financial and social pressure or to try to escape the burden of life through fantasy with the aid of illegal drugs. They think they are doing well but the truth is they are jeopardizing their future as well as that of children and society.
Although most of these people are not willing victims at the start; but because of the requirements of a system (political, economic and social) they are in, they are forced to “blend in” or else suffer the consequences if they do not conform. When the pressure gets too high, sensitive people become depressed and resort to drugs and sometimes they are hopeless to the point that they decide to end their own life. But what can we do with all these factors affecting our lives? Why is it that some people are learning or have learned how to adjust to their current situation without being drug addicts or constant wrongdoers? For me, I also experienced confusion as I was carried away by the hustle and bustle of life especially in my adolescent years. I was the youngest child of two siblings in our family and I was spoiled by my mother. When I was in third year high school I learned to associate with a “barkada” and later on we skip classes and spend our time in theaters and parks. My life is full of comfort and pleasure and I was carefree and happy go lucky. As a result, I have to repeat third year high school for three times in three different schools; the third school being a seminary for boys who “want” to be priests. Luckily, I finished high school at the University of the East in Claro M. Recto, Manila. I believe that my stay in the seminary has taught me the right values although we (me and my co-seminarian friends) nearly got expelled when our head priest discovered our drinking sessions by conducting a “night patrol”. I entered college in UP Los Banos in Laguna and took up Agricultural Engineering. That was in 1971 when the political turmoil in our country is at its peak. Unfortunately, I got acquainted again with a new “barkada” and even got jailed when we were involved in a melee during a drinking spree outside the campus. I decided not to finish the first semester and took a leave of absence. Fortunately, during my “barkada” years, illegal drug use was still not rampant and I did not try to use a single one. My goal in life is not clear then, when my parents decided to live in the province to attend to our 10 hectare farm, I decided to go with them.
For six years, I have learned to live a simple life and value work as a source of living until the death of my father in 1975. In 1977, I decided to go back to college with a goal of going back to our farm after I have finished with my course. When I finished my 5 year Agricultural Engineering course in 1982, I applied for a job and got hired in a government agency. My job was stable and I even started to pursue my Master’s Degree in UP Diliman but was not able to finish it due to work pressure and my kidney disease has aggravated. I met my wife in Tagbilaran City, Bohol when I was temporarily assigned there because of our projects. I got married and I transferred to a private bank and I was based in Bohol. Married life is not all bed of roses and is full of trials and adjustments but we manage to send our four children to school and we have a happy family. At the age of 59, my kidneys failed and I was on dialysis since then. I have learned many things in dialysis, especially on how to face my fears like death. I have seen dying patients during their dialysis only to find out later that they already have died. Life is without assurance since dialysis patients whom you have talked to today will be dead tomorrow.
My point is that I do not want other people, especially the youth, to take the path I took. With all my 62 years of experience in life I believe that in order for a child or the parents to be successful in coping with the rigors of life he or they must have the following:
1. Spiritual growth and development. He could acquire this through: his school which can provide him with the right values and discipline (the school should be chosen carefully); his parents could also provide him with the right values by showing the right examples and forming in him the fear of the Lord our God. Spiritual growth should start at a very young age to guide him properly;
2. Self-awareness. He should be aware of himself and his environment and know the effect(s) of his action(s) to his being and to other people. Later on, he will know what is good and bad and with proper guidance, he will always choose the good side of things;
3. Acceptance. When he is starting to mature, he will learn to accept things as they are. He will acknowledge his strengths as well as his weaknesses and his mistakes;
4. Proper love of self. He cannot properly love other people if he has not learned to love himself properly. With the right values and principles, he will surely achieve this.
I do not say that we should be perfect and will not commit sin. Although it should be our goal to be perfect as the Lord our God is perfect. We will continue to sin or commit mistakes; but with the grace of the Lord our God, we could be aware of their graveness and accept that some things are beyond our control and with proper self-regard we could say no to our temptations so we can bravely face the realities of life!