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State of mind

Last night, I watched a BBC produced documentary about the Philippines. With the hype of the new tourism slogan “It’s More Fun in the Philippines”, I had the expectation that the documentary would show the tourist destinations, the culture and rich diversity. On the contrary, it showed the pressing issues in the country instead.

I was particularly disturbed by the last video which featured Mindanao. It reminded me of the State of Mind – Life in North Korea, a documentary also produced by BBC. Both videos showed what teachers impart to their students. It was very disturbing to see how the young minds were fed with resentment instead of teaching them to be more critical on the real situation. It is quite frustrating to see that they are somehow — whether they are aware of it or not — molding future rebels instead of leaders.

At first glance it is easy to say that they were not doing the right thing. But what if we try to put ourselves on their shoes, are we still going to have the same reaction? I think our present state of mind would totally change.

Although I have lived in Mindanao for only a very short time, 3 months to be specific, my chance of volunteering in a Muslim organization allowed me to hear the grievances of our Muslim brothers and sisters and see the face of Marawi City, a known war zone in the region. The unequal distribution of resources and development programmes in the country deprived them of proper infrastructures, security and education among others. Other than that, they have also suffered the painful wound of discrimination and maltreatment. Muslim women were being raped.

If we only experience the life they are having particularly in the hinterlands — no proper infrastructures, walk miles away to go to school or market where there is a trace of civilization, being discriminated for being poor or Muslim, live in dire poverty while the other parts of the country progress and have access to services — I guess we will be willing to shed blood too, not only for ourselves but more for our children and grand children.

It is true that rebellion will not do them any good; war is never good. But if we’ll try to think what else they can do to make their complaints heard and addressed, perhaps we will find ourselves groping in the dark for answers. And this is what is so disturbing about it.

Charlie Chaplin final speech in The Great Dictator

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible- Jew, Gentile, black men, white…

We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each others’ happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls; has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind.

We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery ,we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in man; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all.

Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say “Do not despair.”

The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder!

Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men—machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have a love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate!

Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural.

Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!

In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it’s written “the kingdom of God is within man”, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power.

Let us all unite.

Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill their promise. They never will!

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people!

Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance!

Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite!