smoke

I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

SONA

My girl friend is taking a leave from work to go join a rally protesting the President’s State of the Nation Address; I promised to join her.

But I woke up this morning with an overwhelming sense of ‘what for?’

Do I really need to hear the state of the nation from the President when I see it for myself everyday on my commute to work?

When I get out of the house, I am confronted by a pair of boys – can’t be more than 12 years old – scrounging the streets for plastic bottles and scrap metal. There’s your state of the nation right there. When kids have to do scavenger work rather than go to school, you know that the nation isn’t in good shape.

Then I get to the FX depot. I see people falling into neat little queues that snake around two make-shift pylons; each one waiting patiently for her chance to get a ride. Then someone cuts in, and aside from a few grumblings down to the end of the queue, there’s nothing done about it and everyone eventually settles back into a grudging silence. There’s your state of the nation right there. We have the capacity for discipline, but in general not the will to enforce it. We tolerate breaches of discipline, all the while complaining about it; we don’t speak out, preferring to snipe from the sidelines like a victim.

The ride is long and bumpy. Traffic builds up at every junction despite the presence of at least one – mostly two – traffic enforcers who show an appalling lack of ability to ‘enforce’ traffic rules. Especially against PUV operators. There’s your state of the nation right there. A country with free flowing arteries is a productive country. A nation where people spend very little time commuting is a nation where people spend more of their time working and attending to self-actualization. We are neither. Our arteries are clogged; sclerotic. Many of our workers spend upward of four hours on the road everyday – the journey sapping their energy and vitality. Is it any wonder then that our workers are particularly vulnerable to the siren call of mediocrity? And mediocrity in the work force will eventually manifest as mediocrity at all levels.

Stopped at a red light, I am accosted by a beggar-woman carrying a torpid looking child, with three other younglings in tow. There’s your state of the nation right there. Our government has pleased the Catholic Church but totally betrayed our people. Malthus may not have been entirely right, but our explosive population growth has not been matched by our food&wealth-generating capability. If you can’t control one, then the good of the country dictates that you at least control the other, i.e., if you’re okay with your people breeding like rabbits, the least you can do is make sure you have enough money to keep the bunnies fat and happy.

Arriving at the office, I hear the Partners laughing about how they got a smuggler off the hook, and about how one of them is gonna get a new mistress with his share of the bonus. Get a new mistress? Like where would you shop for a mistress? There’s the state of the nation for you. Our nation is run by people who make a living out of finding ways around the law – no surprise then that we hardly respect the rule of law, even when we criticize others for doing the exact same things we would be doing were we in their shoes.

And so on and so on.

It’s like my girl friend told me once, when her boyfriend told her that he didn’t mean to hurt her. It doesn’t matter what you meant to do – not really. What counts is what your actions ended up doing. In a squirrel-y kind of way, it’s the same with the SONA. It doesn’t matter so much what the indicators say; or how many individual achievers (like Pacquiao) the President can trot out in 45 minutes; or how many standing ovulations her sycophants give her – none of which will actually give anyone a valid appreciation of how the nation actually is.

The nation is in the grip of poverty; we lack the will to be as disciplined as we are capable of being; our infrastructure – physical and organizational – is weak, disordered, and creaking at the joints; our policies are wrong-headed; and our leaders are nothing more than a bunch of predatory pirates.

That is the true state of the nation. Whatever the President says today – as truthful, as factual, and as valid as they might be – won’t change any of that.

So why bother going?

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One Response

  1. […] address. The Professional Heckler takes a tongue-in-cheek view of what will come to pass today. Smoke says: what’s the point of paying attention to it all when the real state of the nation stares […]

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