I MARVEL at how our world has developed over the centuries and how mankind has progressed from his early beginnings as a cave dweller to become an urban yuppie. I marvel at how our world has been transformed by the evolution of language — from simple hand signals and singular grunts that turned into words and became dialects and ultimately developed into national languages.

I marvel at how the spoken — or written — word has made and broken kingdoms and dynasties. I marvel at how mankind overcame ignorance to become informed and learned. I marvel at how we have harnessed the power of information to fuel our development economically, intellectually and spiritually.

And now I marvel at our generation’s stupidity as we harness that same power not to develop but to destroy utterly that which our forefathers have long strived to build. In place of a free press, we have a puppet press that is controlled and dictated to by commercialism, politicians, and/or fear. So instead of the youth learning from the media, they are being brainwashed by the media. Instead of integrity, we have scandals. Instead of straight talk, we have cheap talk. Instead of real news and public affairs programs, we have a nightly showbiz patrol interrupted by a brief segment of news. Instead of real reporters, we have “TV personalities” who don’t know the difference between getting facts before reporting the news and reporting first and then supplying the evidence to fit the news reported. Instead of a press to be trusted, we now have a press we must be wary of. For all they care about are ratings, profits and anything that brings in that confounding invention of man: money.

Greed has caused our generation’s decay. I am afraid that the day will come that that same greed will bring about our destruction.

The mass media have already corrupted the minds of our youth. The broadcast media, in particular, have a big influence on the masa’s mind, for as someone in the industry has boasted, even the poorest families strive to have three things: a radio, a television set and a karaoke. No wonder that whatever the media peddle, our people buy wholesale.

TV noontime shows don’t help uplift our people’s lives. Instead of teaching the value of hard work and pride in improving one’s lot through honest labor, they promote laziness by making people line up for game shows in the hope of winning the jackpot.

I pity all those people skipping their jobs or wasting their day lining up for a shot at P1 million or a house and lot. Some of them candidly admit that they have been going through the routine for months.

“Sus Ginoo!” [My God!] If Filipinos showed the same tenacity in looking for jobs, the number of people mired in poverty would probably go down. But no, Filipinos proudly declare, “Masaya na po basta magkakasama” [So long as we are together, we are happy], or “Diyos na po ang bahala” [God will provide].

If only our people would be taught that poverty is not a gift of fate or of faith, but a consequence of our actions, and that laziness is never rewarded with a cool P1 million, this sorry country of ours would be a lot better.

Joseph Dominic O. Romero, 24, is a physical therapy graduate of Universidad de Santa Isabel in Naga City and works as a copy editor in an advertising company.

First published in Philippine Daily Inquirer on September 2005.

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