Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Jungle

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lulled into indifference by the trappings of a charmed life, we have distanced ourselves from the wretched world of the beyond destitute. It took a book for me to realize this. Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, a savage indictment of labor conditions and factory life in the Chicago stockyards, was published in 1906. Ironically, the world of crushing poverty, depravity and despair he vividly and realistically depicted in his novel is very similar to what majority of Philippine society still suffers from today. The deplorable working conditions that exist in the country at present are comparable to what another country had experienced 103 years ago. Thinking about what that means moves me to tears.

..the real estate man cheats him by selling him a house on the installment plan with hidden clauses he cannot read, and which eventually cause him to lose his home; he is unmercifully speeded up on the job and suffers injuries; he and his family are afflicted by horrible diseases; he is laid off and blacklisted, and goes on jail unjustly for smashing the face of a brutal boss. One by one, Jurgis and his group are crushed: the old men are thrown on the scrap heap to starve, the women turn to prostitution to live, Jurgis’ wife, attended in child birth by an ignorant midwife, dies from lack of proper care and his infant son is drowned in one of the stinking pools of green water around his wretched shack.

Sounds familiar, right?

We are continually made conscious about the plight of the poor by snippets from the news and the measures of poverty and unemployment government agencies usually churn out. Reduced to mere statistics, they, the “dregs of society”, are invisible to most of us. Their world, a cradle-to-the-grave struggle to survive pervaded with a sense of hopelessness and defeat, is unseen, unheard and unfelt.

Have we become too inured to this jungle right in front of us?

10 comments:

mordsith said...

Poverty, immorality, and crimes have become commonplace in the Philippine society that we tend to watch passively as street children beg for food and decent people lose their jobs. We watch as the politicians, the rich, and the powerful rape our nation and trample on our human rights, only to steal our money.

We have this kanya-kanya mentality, made worse by crab mentality, that continuously brings us down. We forgive and forget easily the horrors of our past, so it seemed we do not learn.

I'm sorry, I think I got carried away. hehe. But you're right, we are still suffering now what other country had suffered a century ago. It's time to see, to hear, to feel, to act, and to grow.

Amelia said...

these are some of the reasons why Filipino would prefer to live outside of it's nest...I too was an idealist when I was a child aiming to work in a government that I thought is one of a kind..yes, one of a kind in terms of a not-so good governance. but we are not alone on this area...there a lot who are much worst. But come to think of it, Phils. has everything natural resources, manpower and education to name a few but still we are far behind...far behind!

so as they say "WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE"

Artemis said...

what is to be done indeed?!

Angeli said...

What is to be done? I honestly don't know. As Mordsith has mentioned, the time has come "to see, to hear, to feel, to act, and to grow." Perhaps the more important question is how are these to be done.

jacqueline said...

scams here and there... cheatings everywhere... there are so few a people who are still trustworthy...

sometimes it makes me think, is poverty a self-inflicted state one has made? or is it something caused by ill-minded individuals who use their power to rob others of their very own resources?

yes Amelia, Welcome to the Jungle... and this surely is survival of the fittest.

Anonymous said...

what can be done!?. i say, exercise (walk to find street foods), eat well (love street foods) and die anyway (insist on your right of way). caution: this does not apply to the quiapo area.

seriously, their world is not unseen, unheard or unfelt. we just evolved into the "no evil" monkeys.

Angeli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angeli said...

Being "good" towards others can be a product of evolution, too. There are several Darwinian reasons for us to be altruistic, generous, or 'moral' towards each other: genetic kinship, reciprocation, the Darwinian benefit of acquiring a reputation for generosity and kindness, and the additional benefit of conspicuous generosity as a way of buying unfakeable authentic advertising. (Dawkins, The God Delusion, 2006:251)

So that means we are not that evolved yet?

Artemis said...

We always feel it hear it and we act in our own little ways.When I was younger I wanted to change the world, my community, my family, for the better.. and I acted.. now that I am older and wiser, I think I now understand what is meant when they say, change begins with the self.

Yes the answer is "evolution," and we are still evolving. As an individual evolves the rest will evolve. All we need to do is to shine our light in the dark, until such time that light overcomes darkness :-) cheers!

unstranger said...

It's world wide Angeli but it takes just one single solitary person to effect incredible global change.

Just one person.

 
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