Saturday, September 24, 2016

268: A Bad Dream

thoughtexIt says something when the events of the day carry over into the sanctuary of your sleep. Last night, I dreamt I was in a taxi. We were stopped in the middle of the road at a checkpoint. Before I could object, a policeman had opened the door and entered the car. What followed after was a jumble, but it turned out to be something to the effect that they were not policemen after all but some private entity pretending to be the authorities. What do you make of that dream?

Truth be told, this relentless assault on our psyche is getting wearisome. Day in and day out, since May, we've been subjected to images of violence, threats of violence, gratuitous cursing, and the shameless braggadocio. This is no way to live. Deliver us from evil, Lord! Or if not that, let not the time of our trial be overlong, lest we break.

We've come to the point where it's nigh impossible to be neutral. You either like this situation or you don't. If you, like me, find this state of affairs intolerable, it's because you cannot stomach the killings, the unstatesmanlike behavior, the breakdown of relations with international allies, the raw abuse of power against political enemies. If, on the other hand, you fall on the side of the die-hard supporters...well, I confess, I don't understand you at all. To be honest, I don't think I'll like you much, either.

It makes me wonder how we have come to this. I can think of three reasons. First, the system of justice was already itself broken, selective and ineffectual. Second, gleeful mass media, so keen to show the system's flaws in exchange for ratings, rendered citizens insensate to violence. And third, constant exposure to social media -- that damned Facebook! -- have divorced people from reality. In this make-believe world, morals don't matter, only the loudest and most outrageous personality.

Yet for the life of me, I can't help but think that all this violence, all this posturing, is simply smokescreen for something far more insiduous, a mere distraction. The mayor of the Philippines may project that he is in charge but -- but! -- look for the silences because they speak volumes. Who does he dare not offend? Who really runs things while he plays the sheriff? For all this talk of change, doesn't all this look eerily and uncomfortably familiar?