The Country Of Dreams

Friday, March 05, 2010

by Hasna Usman, GW

Poverty is a state of mind.

Most people would, when confronted by this phrase, immediately disagree. Others would nod in an instant. To the disagreeing lot, poverty is a result of ill character, bad luck, and falling victim to an ever vicious cycle of materialism rampant in our society today. To the agreeing lot, poverty is but a hurdle to get over for the willing. Who wants to be poor, they'll ask. The answer to that question is indisputable.

I say both cases remain true, for there is potential in everybody to overcome poverty, and at the same time there exists a widespread vice-like grip that prevents our brothers from rising beyond what fate has laid out - absolute despair.

Consider the word "Dream". For such a short word, I cannot think any other can rival the weight it carries in its meaning: aspirations, ardent wishes, lifelong goals, and hope. It is a heavy word, for everything begins with a dream. Every good thing begins as somebody's wild thought, escaping from the mind that spawns it and then made a reality. Everybody has a tale of how some idea revolutionized the lives it touched, dreams that came true. Dreams are the seeds that sprout and give people the fulfillment in life that they seek. When it comes to dreams, our country is never poor.

The Philippines is a country of dreams. Honest dreams made by enthusiastic young spirits. Dreams that can make lives better.

It is sad to say however, that ours is not a country where dreams can truly thrive in. We live with a culture that urges us to keep in line, to do what society dictates us to do. For every dream that a child can come up with, there is an equivalent looming despair that will prevent that dream from ever becoming more than a moment's reverie.

It is said that James Watt, inventor of the modern steam engine, was no older than six when he first started his fascination with steam power after seeing the boiling kettle. Schooled by nobody other than his own mother, he was explained the basics of steam. Twenty or so years later, he went on to create a machine that would catapult civilization into the industrialized age that we live in today.

James had the simple dream of harnessing that simple energy, a dream kindled by his first educator, James' mother. She could not have possibly imagined how such a simple lesson about steam back then would have changed the world as we know it today.

At school we are taught, if you learn this and that, you will eventually be able to get this or that job, you will not find it fulfilling, but your stomach will not grow hungry. We are taught, if we know slightly more than the other student, we will be more successful than him or her someday. In our minds, we are made to believe that everything we will ever need to succeed in the books. Anything that we do outside those precepts will only make us miserable. Breaking out of your mold will just give you despair.

But is this ever the case? William Gates III, the world's richest man never finished college. Steve Jobs, a man who revolutionized computers as we know it did not even complete two years of college. These people had dreams, and they realized success could not be achieved without them. There are countless more examples, people who realized something that many of us still haven't - the value of real education, one that we currently do not have.

Yes, the greatest failing of our educational system is that the youth of today are given poverty as a state of mind. Not physical poverty, but one that takes root in our mind. One that gives us despairs for every dream that we try to fulfill. This is not real education.

Real education is one that fosters what's already intrinsic in man - to be innovative, to rise above expectations, to find a vision, and make it real. Real education is one that goes beyond teaching a person. Real education inspires. Real education is the cure to the poverty as a state of the mind, and eventually the same cure that will remove poverty itself.

I have a vision. One day I can walk into any academic institution and see how it provides real education to its students. One day there will be schools that let its students realize that the distance between where the ground that they stand on and their lifelong goals are not too far away; schools where dreaming is encouraged, supported, and helped in realization.

And you'd think this is all farfetched, of how we are surrounded with rigid walls, built by tradition, closed-mindedness, and a vicious cycle of do-unto-others-what-had-been-done-to-thee. I tell you, my fellow country man, this is not far from what can happen. For a long as there is a single principal, a single teacher, a single parent believing that education is more than just learning to earn one's keep, that education is more than just memorizing the established, that education is questioning and seeking answers, and that education is a process of dreaming and realizing dreams, this ideal will remain moving towards the eventuality. This I can tell you.

No, this is not a dream. The Philippines empowered by a real concept of education is coming into fruition. A revolution is happening as you read this sentence, in the rurals, in the impoverished areas of Manila, in the words of the mother slowly but surely gifting his child with the light of literacy through a worn out pencil and a piece of paper, in the heart of the working student curiously looking at steam rising from the meal he is cooking.

Deep inside you, deep inside me is a piece of this country of dreams, with eyes that open little by little through education, waking up with the grand vision of the beautiful tomorrow, the only Philippines that we should be aiming for.

A country of realizing dreams.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Redkinoko. This entry just reminded me that I have dreams.

I will pursue them. And on the off-chance that I do succeed. I will personally find you, and thank you.

Zia said...

i accidentally found your blog, i really enjoy all of the writings, funny and very inspiring, please continue to update it.


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