What's in a name, eh?
Would you read this blog if it were written by Harold Hebbenmyer?
Would you read it if it were by Jose dela Cruz?
And what kind of image do you conjure up in your mind when reading these off-the-wall commentaries? Do you imagine that old bearded geezer in the right column? Or a guy slightly younger with the kind of impish smile a satirist like Jonathan Swift might wear? You know, always carrying around an inside joke.
I'll bet he wears glasses, right? Anybody who reads as much as JoeAm does has gotta wear specs.
What do you figure JoeAm WANTS, anyhow? You think he is a malcontent rabble rouser, a rebel, a discontented, frustrated Tea Party kind of guy who wants to remodel the Philippine social environment? Or maybe an intellectually engaged know-it-all going nowhere in particular, like a tenured college professor of no great ambition? Somebody with a silent agenda, maybe setting himself up with the credentials to tell the Philippines who to elect as president in 2016?
Do you figure he is making money from all the advertisements over there . . . er,up ther. . . er, by selling book rights?
Well, by jumpin' juju beans, I'll TELL you who JoeAm is!
He's what you get when you take all the values of the Philippines, all the values of America, all the preconceptions and biases of both countries, mix them up, rip them to shreds and throw them out. What's left standing is Joe America.
He belongs no where.
He is going no where.
He just is.
It's all rather zen. You see, JoeAm is a push up. He is a good intellectual romp on the treadmill for you. Or the stair climber. A hard-pumping bike ride up the hill and a free-wheeling coast down. A good jog on the beach, occasionally stealing a glance at what's passing in a bikini. He is a guy exercising his life, his brain, his imagination and sharing what he discovers. He is a guy doing crossword puzzles without any squares. Telling punch lines without any jokes.
Let me ask. What do YOU want to be when you grow up and up and old?
Do you want to be lively and fun or a dull drudge people put up with? Do you want your mind to get sharp as the sharpest tack or flatten out into a dull kind of pasty grey gruel? Do you want to wallow in self-pity and an inconsequential zero-ness or do you want to kick a rock down the slope to see if the mountain follows it?
Joe Am chooses to kick rocks.
Every day he kicks one.
There is a discipline to this. To get up every morning, find a new path up a new mountain. Strain over the big boulders, up vertical cliffs, across deep gorges. Ever higher. Through rain and wind and sun and more sun. Then find just the right rock. Roundish and about a foot in diameter. Roll it to the edge just like so . . . and kick . . .
That's what he does.
The great thing is when others are on the ridge with him, pointing and laughing as the rock tumbles. Watching to see if it shatters or makes a landslide or hits a moose. Many like to kick their own rocks, and that is spectacular. Let the good times roll!
The "Joe" in Joe America comes from all the Filipino kids shouting "Hey, Joe" as he ambles along. They laugh, he laughs. He loves it. Maybe in secret "Joe" means "white turd", but what does Joe care? Some of the kids yell "Daddy!" Maybe that means he is a sexual animal, or maybe they want some of his money. He doesn't exactly know what it is supposed to mean. So he ignores those kids.
The "America" name comes from wanting to point out that he brings a bias, a background, a perspective to Philippine issues that is likely different than a Filipino view. And it is the difference that most are interested in, he suspects. The difference between Western and Filipino norms and ways of thinking and doing. How does an outsider view the Philippines? What should a wise Filipino aspire to be? American in style and thought, or Filipino? Or his own person?
Joe somehow thinks Harold Hebbenmyer simply would not do the job as well as JoeAm. It's like short people can't dunk and tall people can't get under the kitchen sink. A guy named Hebbenmyer simply CANNOT discuss Filipino issues with any kind of credibility.
Joe America can.
We all understand that a rolling rock gather no moss, eh?
And a big, round rock just sitting there, inert, on the mountain?
What a horrible waste of discovery . . .