Sunday, August 14, 2011

"Well Jerk My Eyeballs Out with a Fork"

Have you ever had the experience of finding a long missing tool, gleefully picking it up, then tossing it in horror as a deadly black widow spider creeps out from underneath?

Or opening a box of candy to have a small lizard scramble out?

Or reaching for a tomato and instead grabbing one of those huge, green-gutted, slimy tomato worms?

Or going to sit down on a park bench and have a snake slither off right from where you were going to plop your butt?

We spend the better part of our lives in innocence. Expecting good. Living the good life. Absent war and strife and horror. Cruising.

Then it up and hits us between the eyes. Horror. And we have to deal with it.

The examples I cite are trivial. But they convey the shock of the unexpected, when something good turns somehow extraordinarily bad.

Sometimes we are happy because we are simply ignorant. Or we shade truths to fit our happy time disposition. Our lives truly are built on deceits, and we are the biggest liars ourselves.

In the US, people cringe in horror with each American death in the war in Afghanistan. They count each one. List the names on the front page of the Daily Rag. The list of names is long when a helicopter is shot down. Over thirty. It is short when a Humvee gets IED'ed and five Americans die. The total so far after, what, eight years or so, is around 3,000 deaths? And people are outraged. "Get out now!" 

Meanwhile, out on the interstates and country lanes and city streets, Americans slaughter Americans by the carload. Literally. Some 40,000 deaths a year. That is 110 deaths each and every day. Crushed skulls and mangled bones. Blood on the pavement. The old and the young, the sober and the drunk. Car accidents.

We read the number and it is irrelevant to us. It is the ink on the paper, the fleeting burst of color on the TV screen, here then gone. It is not attached to anything important. Driving to the grocery store is not Afghanistan where crazy-eyed murders in turbans try daily to kill our sweet boys and girls. There is no drama, no pathos, no dirt attached to a family of five plowed under by a semi on the 5 Freeway outside of Bakersfield.

Shit happens.

Well, let me tell you, I picked up a tool this morning and found the spider. The lizard was there too, and the worm, and the snake.

I'm always on the prowl for a favorable story about the Philippines. Something to balance against the relentless discouragement thrown at Filipinos by erudite hypocrites like Anti-Pinoy and Get Real Post. So this morning I leapt at the headline touting how the Philippines was complimented by WHO for the work being done to improve newborn nutrition (click here for story). A three-month old project to encourage breast feeding and good nutrition was cited with raves.

But then the spider popped out. The worm. The snake. The lizard. Halfway through the rave . . . the horror emerged . . .

  • "Over 40,000 Filipino newborns die every year, with the majority of them dying in the first two days after birth. Newborn deaths account for 37 percent of the 82,000 Filipino children that die annually."

Do you know how much grief is attached to the death of a child?

82,000 Filipino children die annually.

My God. No wonder Filipinos are callous toward corruption or rule-breaking or unkind treatment of others. How can you have a heart and bear the death of 82,000 kids a year? Almost a million kids in 10 years? You have got to set your grief aside, bury it, deny it. Your heart? You cover it with iron.

You turn on the TV and watch Willie toy with innocent people. Anything but grasp the horror.

You cheer a boxer and get drunk under the mango tree.

You toddle off to the Church and pray . . .

And listen to the wizards of the Catholic Church tell you how much the truly faithful value life, and that we must suffer to appreciate God.

The right to life.

The right to life.

This kind of life? That ends in two days?

And the poor, uneducated masses keep on giving. And birthing.

And the priests keep on preaching.

And we commoners amble on in denial, because that particular horror is just too terrifying to deal with.


  1. Yeah and voting for Gordon will fix all of this?

  2. Call it denial, complacency, being unmindful, or the down right refusal to stare truth in the eyes... we tend to look the other way, most often that not, because it's what we prefer to do. i'd like to call it a 'coping mechanism'. works like hell, but we're just setting up ourselves to vulnerability, because when 'shit happens' (Joe America, 2011), all bets are off... we're victims of our own apathy.

    Imagine dragging this attitude while dealing with safety concerns, particularly fire safety. oh well, we could always blame it on 'faulty electrical wiring' (which engineers say, is non-existent) or hell, question the competency of the local fire department...

    and oh, Anonymous, it's been more than a year... deal with it and move.

  3. 1DC,

    Yes, coping. I'd like to see President Aquino's administration depart from denial and set a goal to reduce infant and child mortality rates. They will have to face some hard realities, that giving birth on the mud banks of squatters villages is not the best way to nurture a child.

    I also like the attitude you express, "deal with it and move".

  4. 'Setting a goal to reduce infant and child mortality'... sounds simple, but is actually a tall order. To deal with this means you have to first address the concerns in poverty and education. The poor themselves, whom i believe most of these child mortality rates resonate from, must be protected- not from the society- but from themselves. They are too jaded to care about the outcome; it is the 'ganoon talaga' (oh well) attitude - a 'coping mechanism' the poor are known for, that puts the blame on everything from fate to the Presidency, but not on themselves.

    The President's appointees, at least some, should step up and make things happen; benchmark if necessary. Critics like the spider, the snake and the lizard should distribute the credit evenly and focus much of their rage on them... I'm sure PNoy wouldn't mind the lack of attention...

    "Deal with it and move on' was what i wanted to say there for the last part... and I'm blaming Anonymous for this typo error. It's a coping mechanism, you see...

  5. 1DC, a very tall order. And may the assorted creatures attack with venom and purpose.

  6. I have a one year old godson from a poor family. His aunt brought him to see me this afternoon. I'd hate to see anything happen to him as he and I really enjoy each other's company.

    Would you know where we can access data on the child deaths? I didn't realize so many were dying. It would be good to know why and if these deaths are spread out evenly across the country or more prevalent in certain areas. This needs looking into and public awareness of the problem must be raised. More time should be spent on keeping the living alive than arguing over the "unborn".

  7. MB, I don't have links to the data in the article, which cited the numbers in my blog, which I accepted at face value.

    I did a search this morning on child mortality and got the following chart from the World Bank, which shows a very favorable, but slowing trend, since 1985.

  8. Thanks Joe. Will read it


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