January 9, 1988
Man of the year
HOPE springs eternal, as in the case of the political prisoner being blindfolded before the firing squad. It might misfire.
One clings to life, however miserable. Life is better than none—except to the would-be suicide. He does not think so, and pulls the trigger. A martyr to his conviction. But just to go on living, under the most adverse conditions, is worth it. Just survive!
But is life, as it is, better than none—to the wretched of the earth? Perhaps, life after death will be an improvement.
There’ll be pie
In the sky
By and by.
It’s a lie!
So went the International Workers of the World’s gibe at organized religion’s panacea. Suffer here, enjoy there— forever! Opium of the people? But relaxing!
And what if there is no life after death? Well, who can tell? Who really knows anything about “that undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns”? Ask no question and you will be told no lies. A question without an answer is a silly one. But there is a question that may be reasonably asked:
“Is there life—after life?” After birth?
Life worth living?
Is living in Smoky Mountain life? Worth living?
Must be. Or so many thousands of human beings—like you and me—would not be living there. Not rising in revolt against their inhuman condition and burning the city down. They’re alive. Enough reason for being.
Life is good—however its condition. That is the ultimate affirmation of faith. That is the Survivor’s Creed.
The Survivor, then, is the Man of the Year. He took all that life and the regime he suffers under but still maintains, with protest but also with patience. Showing “grace under pressure”—to the exasperation of those who would replace the present dispensation with its flawed rights and liberties with a dictatorship, fascist or Communist, that would strip him of all rights but promises rice for his liberties. He’s still free—to suffer but protest against his suffering. Still being robbed but protesting the robbery. Still being tortured—as that poor young man who was burnt with lighted cigarettes and had electrode wires attached to his genitals if he did not come across with P10,000 for the police…
Life is good—despite the Government and the Opposition, fascist and Communist, offering only the alternative of the Tiger or the Hyena. One suffers and labors and provides, however inadequately, for the needs of those one loves, one’s family, the Real Country—without hurting others. One is a good man or woman. One survives—remaining human.
“To the Survivor!”
The Man of the Year.