I’ve Given Up on Understanding Democracy

I really didn’t want to think about politics today. I have a pile of chocolates right next to me, I’m taking notes on what I need to do to find out what I want to do for the next half-decade or so, and I have plans to continue watching The Crown (I love that show).

But basically everyone I know has politics in the brain today. Part of it has to do with the decision of my country’s Supreme Court to allow a dictator to be buried in the Heroes’ Cemetery. The other part has to do with the US elections. Both have me questioning whether or not I misunderstood what Democracy is actually supposed to be.

The handful of people who AREN’T talking about these things are focused on bettering themselves. I want to pay attention to them instead, but my brain is a douchebag.

So now I’m writing this, around lunchtime, so I can forget about it and get back to my career development exercises.

From the Philippines, my bend of the globe

The subject of burying a known dictator as a hero is, at the very least, controversial.

Whether or not he was a benevolent dictator is always up for debate—it most certainly is at our family’s dinner table, where the positions range from neutral to moderately rabid. But I don’t think that’s what’s causing the problems here at all.

My issue with this whole thing is that they claim the proposal to bury this man as a hero is an attempt to unify our country.

Let that sink in. They think that a dictator, whose executive, legislative, and judiciary decisions led to the deaths and disappearances of a countless number of my countrymen, should be buried as a hero in order for everyone to bury the hatchet.

I have no words to describe how misguided and fucked up I think this thing is.

I don’t care what his intentions were. I don’t care if the dead and missing “deserved” what happened to them. That’s not the point.

The point is that his government allowed for atrocities upon his people. And no, a ceremony will NOT make things right, not for the people who had to suffer under him who, by the way, are still alive.

Christ, why think this would unite us? You just reminded people of how much they’ve been hurt and now we’re more divided than ever.

And I heard the guy didn’t even want to be buried there anyway; he wanted to be next to his mom. You assholes.

Meanwhile, America – fuck yeah

Whether or not my country is getting along with the US of A (and I could never tell; our President likes insulting them while most Filipinos freaking love America), we gotta concede that we have to care about it.

Despite the claims that its hold on international power has weakened over the last decade or so, it’s pretty dang obvious that it still holds significant international influence. Whoever leads it will definitely set the tone for how the country will interact with the rest of the world.

As I write this post, with only a Reese’s peanut butter cup in my mouth as comfort, the 20-year-old Cheeto that you found in the deep recesses of your living room couch that we all know as Donald Trump has a very real chance of winning.

I’d be drinking right now, but it’s office hours where I’m from.

Look, America. I get it. We elected people because their rhetoric was pretty damn compelling and we wanted to send a “fuck you” message to the administration.

But that came at the cost of compromising the integrity of bridges we had built in the past.

Hopefully, by the time this goes live, Hillary will have won or something. Because mark my words: if you let an opportunistic, xenophobic tax evader take over, then any respect the rest of the world has for you will be significantly diminished.

Do not let low EQ get the better of you right now. Do not let fear and anger win.

Remember hope. And then act on it.

For the People, of the People, by the People

When I was in High School, one of our class activities was a formal debate on whether or not my country should be a Democracy.

I was on the “no” side and, if I remember correctly, we won because we successfully argued that Filipinos do not have the right mindset for it. Too many politicians forget that they’re supposed to serve the people. Too many citizens forget that our responsibilities do not stop with the ballots. We all forget that nation-building is not in the hands of the few, but in the hands of everyone, together.

This is how I thought Democracy is supposed to go: we choose someone to speak for us, to be our voice, so we may better contribute to the improvement of society. If the elected officials fail to represent us, then they will lose all their power. If we allow concerns that do not contribute to society dominate, then Democracy will have failed.

If we treat elections as a “set it and forget it” kind of thing, then we don’t actually have a Democracy at all.

But of course, the Democracies I’ve been seeing thus far don’t seem to work the way I thought they ought. Maybe I didn’t understand it after all. Maybe it really is about choosing representatives on the basis of whatever and then letting them fuck us over.

It really doesn’t matter. I’ve given up on understanding democracy.

What about you?

 

Because

Why am I writing right now?

Because I feel more comfortable writing things down rather than talking (this may seem surprising to those who know me in real life, but this is true). I’m braver when things are written down, and even braver when the things I write down aren’t made public.

Because I like feeling brave.

Because it lets me say what I need to say, no interruptions. I hate interruptions when I’m trying to say something, to explain something. It’s not that I hate actual organic conversations; it’s just that people tend to ask questions before you even get to answer. I hate explaining things in pieces, when it’s possible to explain things in full. I hate having to go through a thesis defense every damn time I get drawn into a discussion about politics, religion, and goddamn TV shows.

Because I can be wrong when I write. I can be wrong, so very wrong, and it won’t matter all that much; all these words are already out here and I can’t take them back. People will judge you, yes, but they won’t grade you (unless they’re assholes).

Because I’m scared.

Because life sucks and we’re not allowed to let anyone know the specifics, just the general impression.

Because you can’t mispronounce things when you write; and misspellings aren’t as bad as accidentally saying a foreign word for “dickwad” when you try to say someone’s name.

Because everything you say out loud is supposed to be filtered.

Because everything you write down can be edited in a way that makes your insults more nuanced, more subtle, much cleverer.

Because visual puns can actually be more fun that the puns you hear.

Because I’m not me when I’m not writing something somewhere with whatever pen or paper or keyboard I have on hand (except for my phone; my phone is for playing Mystic Messenger and pooping around on Facebook).

Because I can’t breathe when people are talking to me.

Because I can’t stand interrogations; and no matter what you say, every conversation is an interrogation to a person with an anxiety disorder.

Because I have a mild anxiety disorder and not allowed to talk about it.

Because I have a mild anxiety disorder I’m not allowed to talk about because no one will hire me if they knew.

Because I’m not allowed to talk about what I really want to talk about, which is how fucked up it is for people to decide that you’re not allowed to work because you might freak out at an office every once in a while (even though that’s not really how this shit works).

Because I’m not allowed to talk about what I really want to talk about, which is how fucked up we all are for refusing to admit that we’re all fucked up one way or another.

Because I’m not allowed to talk about how fucked up it is that we all have to hide our words just so we won’t hurt other people.

Because I’m not allowed to talk about how fucked up it is that we were raised to give a shit about other people, but are supposed to not give a shit when other people screw us over.

Because I’m not allowed to talk about how fucked up it is that we are made to feel that our feelings are invalid when we say them out loud.

Because fuck this shit.

That’s why I’m writing right now.

Poetic Peeves

ReadinginBetween_The Difference between Poetry and Prose

Some “poets” on the internet aren’t actually writing poetry, you guys.

There. I said it. I don’t like picking fights, but this has been eating at me for a very. Long. Time.

That thing on Instagram or Tumblr lots of people SAY is a poem? IT’S NOT A POEM. It’s just a normal sentence that they broke up into lines. Worse, it’s a cliche (or a string of cliches) that seem profound:

Your heart is full of fiery love

warming me in the dark stormy night

chasing away the fright.

You are my light

If they insist on calling these abominations “poetry”, then I will be forced to call them out on it: what you have there is poor poetry. Horribad poetry.

The simple solution to the poor poetry problem

It’s not their fault, actually. School systems (ours in the Philippines, in particular) often fail to teach the REAL difference between poetry and prose when they introduce the concept to young minds. They mostly just show us poems, what they look like, and then teach us poetic devices. Or they just tell us what the poems MEAN.

This, I think, leads to lots of misconceptions and bad habits.

To solve this problem (I don’t care what you say; THIS IS A PROBLEM), I’d like to share with you this basic premise:

ReadinginBetween_The Difference between Poetry and Prose

This is, of course, a simplified way of putting it. A lot of people, after all, get feels from prose; and poetry could, in fact, tell stories. But I firmly believe that arguments like that muddy the issue.

The point is that poetry as a literary form mainly concerns itself with conveying emotions or experiences, while the main focus of prose is to tell a story.

Another way to put it is this: it’s important for prose to have some sense of past, present, and future. Poetry doesn’t concern itself with that; it focuses on MOMENTS.

That time you went to a sushi restaurant and got into a fight with another customer? That’s better told in prose.

That feeling of being so angry that you imagined the sashimi in your mouth is the tongue you bit out of that bastard’s bigoted mouth? That’s better told in poetry.

The Fun Fundamentals of Poetry

Note: An expanded version of this discussion is actually available to people participating in a series of poetry lessons I’m providing to a small group of people (whose poetry will be published by Project: TIMES).

When you keep those differences in mind, it’s much easier to understand why the following are so fundamental to poetry:

  • Imagery – this is a non-literal but descriptive way to communicate a feeling or experience (this covers all senses; sight, sound, smell, touch, taste and everything in between)
  • Sound – in poetry, this is the means by which you use the sound of words to enhance the meaning or feeling you want to convey (a.k.a. rhymes, puns, and word choice can make a HUGE difference)
  • Rhythm – in poetry, this refers to the way you put emphasis on words and lines of your poem to effectively communicate significant points in your experience (a.k.a. where you put your pauses MATTERS)

All of these elements speak to creating (or re-creating) an emotion or experience that you would want your reader to understand.

See, while you can argue that plain speech or prose can express emotion and experience (everyone understands “I feel sad”), you can’t say that they comprehend the precise kind of experience and emotion you had (“My heart has a blue chamber“). Poetry—proper poetry, at least—works hard to make the abstract concrete.

Stop supporting bad poetry

For the love of god, stop calling people who write with no sense of imagery, sound, or rhythm “poets”. Ignore internet “poets” who rely on cliches, who have little to no sense of originality. Beware of false depth and emotion.

You know better now.

You Ask?! – A Poem

Quick note: this is an attempt to write poem using my prose style…not sure it worked, but I had fun with it.

image

Take a side –
this cause or that?
If I don’t, you just think I’m bad.
Try to speak in neutral tones,
and get compared to mud.

Not allowed on a brick wall;
you will just pull me to the floor.
When I try for compromise-
well, I’m the one who gets shot.

Don’t know why everyone insists on the extremes.
As if they’re Jesus-perfect.

To me it just seems your point to arguing is to simply scream.

So you call me unjust,
but are you even listening now?
‘Cause it looks to me as if you’re only hearing what you want.

I’ve barely made a sound,
and you are midway through a shout.

You are tearing your own throat over such shallow shadow grounds.

You ask me why I hide?
You ask me why I walk away?

Stand – A Poem

ReadinginBetween_Stand

Call off your righteous gods; I

did not blaspheme.

You have carved a 12-foot nemesis

from a pebble an inch across; you

are smelling brimstone of your own delusion.

It is real, but not here; you see

the fire the next town over.

Here, your toes

feel quicksand as concrete and

hear a symphony as slaughter.

You.

YOU

stand on slights imagined,

step on simple Samaritans,

press on buttons YOU have drawn, you

hypocrite of the hippocratical.

Stand the FUCK down.