Thursday, September 07, 2006

Big Consciouness Talking.. 

After all the pros and cons commenters wrote on whether Pinoys are traitors or heroes for living abroad, read this. This man's insight is truly valuable. Truly, here is big consciousness talking. Nigerian novelist, Ben Okri, in an interview with Ode Magazine.





"We lack knowledge; we lack insight. I think it is a kind of imprisonment. We believe that people should only live in the place where they were born. As if you signed a contract with God: 'I was born in Birmingham and I promise never to leave.' This imprisonment has contributed greatly to the ignorance that exists throughout the world, to the prejudices that people have about their neighbours, the next country or another religion—and about 'that tribe' and people of 'that colour.' If people were free to travel more… if someone travels from Birmingham to Thailand, it is not really travelling. That is tourism. But if you travel from Birmingham to Liverpool and live in Liverpool and then go to Ireland and live in Ireland and then come and live in London for a bit and then maybe do a spate of living in Paris and then you visit Africa and then visit Thailand, now that is travelling. Travelling challenges you to change your provincial perspective. Travel begins by altering your sense of the assumptions that you make about the world.

Travelling enables you to see how different you are from your next-town neighbour, and how similar you are.

"That is why it is important to teach children to think clearly, but it is also important to travel with them. I think that moving children gradually away from where they originate is an important influence on freeing the mind and reducing the amount of prejudice. You must deal with the problem of racism in a manner that is not only political. You cannot legislate it out of existence. It is important to understand why people are that way and why they think that way. The problem is not that white people have not met black people. The problem is that people do not leave their neighbourhoods. Real freedom for a Dutchman would be the freedom not to be Dutch and for an African not to be African. It is the freedom to expand your definition of what you think and experience constantly, always allowing new possibilities.

"It is the freedom to investigate your shadow side, the side that you disown. You need this knowledge in order to find your vocation. You do not just get up and become a photographer. You have to enter into the process. You have to learn and surrender and, at some point, mastery will come to you. There comes a point when your hands are broken, your face is broken and your spirit altered, when you begin to sense the hidden laws of your art. Only then can you start to take photographs and write poems that will be of great value to this world. Only then can you transcend yourself."

Comments:
We believe that people should only live in the place where they were born...
Travelling enables you to see how different you are from your next-town neighbour, and how similar you are.

"That is why it is important to teach children to think clearly, but it is also important to travel with them.


Amen esp. to this lines.
 
i am not a hero, not a traitor. both are extreme words to describe me. i am neither, does that mean then i am nothing? i sure hope it doesn't.

i added you to my blogroll, i hope you don't mind.
 
True, true. Travelling broadens one's view of the world. :)

I perfectly agree with this line: "That is why it is important to teach children to think clearly, but it is also important to travel with them."

Teaching kids to think clearly is very important... It will matter a lot when they grow up and move out of their parents' homes to live in another country. Being away from my family, I have no one to look after me... but I know that as long as I think clearly, things will be okay :)

When I have kids of my own (far from that though!), I will bring them along in my travels, and show them the world just like my parents did. ;)

Nice post :)
 
Hi!

I definitely agree with Ben Okri's stance on the matter. I know so many people who haven't left their little shell (either by choice or circumstance), and they know so little about the world around them.

I've been living in the US for the past decade, but I grew up in Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe as well (I have yet to visit Australia). And i'm really grateful for this because it's allowed me to be more open to things, and to be a bit more sympathetic towards people as a whole.

I love the Philippines, and of course I love the US too. This country has given me, my family and friends so many opportunities that the Philippines couldn't. But one of the biggest flaws I've seen here is the American self-centered-ness. It seems like everything here is all about "ME". Nevermind the rest of the world. It's all about "ME" and how "I" can advance and whatnot. I don't think that it's entirely a super bad thing, but sometimes being in a very self-centered country that gives off an air of being better than everyone else makes one forget or become ignorant of everyone else outside their circle.

It's funny how many non Americans know about American culture, history, and so on, yet a lot of non-Americans know about America.

I had a friend who didn't know that such poverty could exist, such as the poverty that we see everyday in Manila. She was so traumatized by the things I described. I also had another friend who left the USA to go to a third world country for the first time. She went to India to do some social work and she was absolutely shocked by the poverty BUT was ABSOLUTELY amazed with how resilient and warm and happy the children were.

I think that if most people were given a chance to travel, or move beyond their comfort zones, as cliche as it may sound, the world would be a better place to live in :)

Sorry for the long comment!
 
Valuable insight indeed.

Travel does broaden one's perception of the world. It also prevents people from "boxing" individuals into categories they deem fit. Hero? Traitor? Not so. Individuals are entitled to choose whatever path they want and if they choose to venture into a foreign land and start over, good for them. That does not make them a traitor.

Like Ben Okri said, we never signed anything saying that we should only live in the place where we were born. If anything, that kind of "isolation" perpetuates ignorance, intolerance, and self-righteousness.
 
You cannot feel what other people feel if you don't live with them. It's a participatory observation. I believe that we all need to expand our horizons to feel what real living is.

Travelling is education.
 
One of the benefits of globalization and free trade is breaking down the barriers, territorials and walls of the world. We have become one. The Internet has become the channel and voice for all nations and cultures of the world.

Mutual acceptance and understanding of all nations is a must for our survival in this world. Travelling makes one a messenger and a representative of their own culture and nation. Diversity becomes a norm, differences are alleviated.

Respect and honour for Nigerian Author, Ben Okri for his real life philosophies.

My big salute to Jim for his widening our consciousness and providing us constant freshness of ideas, life and living.
 
If everything goes well as planned, me and my wife will be in the US by next year.

A buddy at UP high seemed to questioned my sense of nationalism. I told him that I'd be a global Filipino, bringing along with me my love for my country.
 
After reading your blog Jim, I recalled again one of my favorite lyrics from John Lennon's spiritual song "Image":

Imagine there's no countries,
It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people
living life in peace...

It's time we break down the barriers and embrace a borderless world!
 
And then there is the story of Ben Okri's Nigeria:

http://web.amnesty.org/report2003/nga-summary-eng

Unfortunately, most Nigerians, like most Filipinos, will not have the luxury to travel to other countries to broaden their horizons, let alone leave their country just to find work abroad. As it is, they can barely feed their families.

I get this ugly feeling that crises in the Philippines will become worse each year and that more Filipinos will want to flee.

We keep forgetting that most Filipinos leave not because they want to experience something new but because they are desperate for work. The situation is so bad that many domestic helpers in Lebanon did not even want to leave. I hear many Filipinos are even willing to work in Iraq. That is, they are willing to risk their lives just to feed their families.

I post this not because I believe Filipinos who leave are "traitors" (as it is, growing numbers of Filipinos want to leave, and the primary reason is poverty) but to remind ourselves of our origins. We can continue talking about being "global citizens" and finding ourselves, but we came from one country (which Rizal referred to as our "fatherland") and it is dying. That's all.
 
I loved the entire piece, but this is my favorite part:

"It is the freedom to investigate your shadow side, the side that you disown. You need this knowledge in order to find your vocation. You do not just get up and become a photographer. You have to enter into the process. You have to learn and surrender and, at some point, mastery will come to you. There comes a point when your hands are broken, your face is broken and your spirit altered, when you begin to sense the hidden laws of your art. Only then can you start to take photographs and write poems that will be of great value to this world. Only then can you transcend yourself."

Thank you so much for sharing, Tito Jim. :)

Oh, and congratulations on the resurgence of APO. :D

-Marem
 
everyone--salamat sa sulat. too busy to respond individually. Thanks for the visit.
 
this is off the issue...

mr. paredes,

does apo plans to make another album? i do hope you guys would make one!!!...orange and lemons did a one heck kickass version of yakap sa dilim pero syempre iba parin yng orig. na kumanta...
 
Hello Manong Jim! It's me ccigaux! The one who had a photo with you on the recently concluded APO TRIBUTE in Megamall!

Anyway, Just want to ask po:

Which are more preferrable, Travelling and exploring alone or with family or someone?
 
Tito Jim,

Travelling does provide good education for people. I remember when my kids were in primary school. Whenever we informed the school that they'll be away for weeks due to travelling overseas, the school was very supportive. The teacher said there are things one can only learn from travel which can never be learnt in the confines of the classroom.

I guess this is the reason why our Phil. public officials are always finding ways and means to travel overseas a lot, at taxpayer's expense, of course. Why stop there when they can also include their families, household help and mangy pets in the "education"!

A better "educated" public official is a better-serving public official? :-)

-JT of Dural
http://JTisms.blogspot.com
 
Thanks for posting this, Mr. Jim :)
 
Thanks for posting this, Mr. Jim :)
 
Hey Mr. Paredes :)
Are you here in Cali right now? My tita told me that you were with my tito last week... Arnold Anderson? I dont know..... Maybe they were just pulling my leg since they know I'm a big fan. Oh well. Hehe.

- Thea
 
Thea-- have not been in Cali since last year! I think they were pulling your leg.

arie--you're welcome

JT of Dural--ha ha ha!!! That's really funny!

green mangoes--There's a certain charm in traveling alone and traveling with one's family. I enjoy both. The great thing about traveling alone is self-discovery. The best thing about traveling with family is sharing the experience.
 
"We believe that people should only live in the place where they were born..."
does this mean you don't believe in inter-racial relationship? sounds like racism to me.
 
JERRY--it's obvious you did not read the article fully! Or did not understand it or concentrate.
 
we are citizens of this world... our home is this world. the philippines is just one bedroom. there's nothing wrong with exploring the rest of your house.
 
Excellent post and very nice resourceful blog..
I'm adding you to my blog roll...
 
atahame--very well put! Thanks.

lee--please do. salamat sa bisita.
 
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