Category Archives: Courage
117 years ago today, Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, was executed by the Spanish Authorities on false charges of rebellion, but ultimately their fear of him sprang from his written works about the mistreatment of the Filipinos by the Spaniards. To rub salt into the wound, the Spanish had ordered Filipino soldiers of the Spanish army to act as firing squad and even had a backup force of Spanish troops on standby to shoot the executioners in case they failed to obey the orders of the commander.
Rizal requested to face the firing squad before they executed him, but he was refused. In a last defiant act as the triggers were pulled, Rizal twisted his body in an effort to face them – but the bullets riddled him and he died facing the morning sun. His last words were “consummatum est” which means “it is finished”, the same last words of Jesus Christ.
Jose Rizal was brave, compassionate, well-educated and gentle. He didn’t fight with the sword, but with the pen. He always retained his dignity, never hating his enemies, but instead forgiving them for their wrongs. He was the biggest inspiration for the uprising against the Spanish and he has inspired future generations to love their own country and strive to have a good education; he is right up there with the other great men of history who, through hardship and self-sacrifice, made a significant difference for their people, no different to Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi (the latter of whom spoke of his enormous respect for Rizal) and all the others who strove to attain a better life for the many generations to come. He was an all-round brilliant human being and it makes me proud of my Filipino heritage to know that such a person fought tooth and nail for his country without ever lifting a hand to anyone else, using his brains and heart as opposed to brute force.
Above: The death of Rizal, December 30th 1896. At the last moment, he turned to the side in an effort to face his executors.
One evening some time ago, I was on the bus when it stopped and three “rudeboys” jumped on. Typically, they each wore a hooded jumper, moved in a slow, gorilla-type fashion and had the same arrogant sneer on their faces, the archetype of their kind. Two were mixed Jamaican/English, the other black. (And yes, I can imagine the SS of political correctness getting riled up at the fact that I mentioned the words ‘Jamaican, black and gorilla’ in the same paragraph; not different to the white teacher who once innocently called a black child a ‘cheeky monkey’ and found her job on the line for it. Please … before hurling any absurd left-wing accusations of racism at me, at least read the post. For this is not a post about colour; even the most stupid of people know that evil comes in many shades, white, black, yellow or brown. *eye roll*).
It turned out that the boys had no money to get on the bus and the bus driver asked them to leave. They refused. The next few minutes was spent with them tormenting the bus driver, and one of them arrogantly remarking, “I’ve got alllll day to do this!” (Of course you do; you don’t exactly go to school or work). The bus driver, who quite frankly was a pretty weak specimen of a man, repeatedly asked them to leave, to which they continued to laugh and jeer in his face.
By this time, I had had quite enough. I often feel a boiling rage inside of me when I witness one group of people picking on a singular weak one. There is something about groups and gangs that I thoroughly dislike; I think it’s because those who are part of them are often cowardly weeds when they are on their own. I rose from my seat and stormed over to them, demanding they leave. Naturally, being a girl and slightly shorter than them, I was met with raucous laughter, one of them even having the audacity to ask where I was from. I threatened to call the police if they didn’t leave. More laughter. One of the boys grinned, turned his back to me and started swinging from the hinges of the bus door. There was something about the sight of his swinging back that instilled in me this overwhelming urge to push him off. And I did. Except he didn’t fly from the bus as I had hoped. Instead, he saved himself by clutching each side of the door with his palms. Each boy turned to face me and suddenly it wasn’t a laughing matter anymore. One boy urged another to ‘hit me’ and the boy he was egging on took a lunge for my bag. I held on to it tight but he succeeded in breaking the strap. Infuriated, I yelled at them and it was at that point that they jumped off the bus. The bus driver (who had remained quiet throughout the whole incident) asked me if I was alright and I told him to close the doors and drive on.
My thoughts on the matter are this. Firstly, the bus driver should have exerted more authority and ordered the boys off, no matter what measures it took. It is his job to protect his bus and his passengers, yet I believe that his fear of the boys caused him to submit the way he did. He did not let them on without paying but he stood for their disrespectful jeers. Bus drivers have to put up with an awful lot of crap these days; rude behaviour, scammers, filthy looks. But one thing they shouldn’t tolerate is such an overwhelming act of disrespect towards them. What kind of a society is this where an adult man will cower in fear to a bunch of sneering, teenage layabouts who have nothing better to do with their time than cause grief to normal, decent citizens? Furthermore, what kind of society is this where grown men will sit passively on a bus and watch a girl confront three hoodlums and do nothing to assist?
For that is exactly what happened. There were grown men on that bus. In fact, the majority of people on the lower deck were grown men. Yet they all sat there and pretended that nothing was happening. The honest reason I believe this was for? Because of the pressures of convention. Conventional society states that you do not speak out or act when something our of the ‘ordinary’ occurs; it demands that you retain a level of ignorance and keep yourself to yourself. In other words, it ensures that we are surrounded by cowards who will stand and watch while injustice occurs, rather than stand and fight in order to do what is right. I was lucky; the boys could have had knives or guns. I could have been stabbed or shot. But this says less about me than it does about the complete out-of-control spiral that this society has become, where teens run rampant with weapons and the decent citizen lives in fear. And the politician sits comfortably in his home, completely disconnected with the outside world (and, quite frankly, where is his compassion for it anyway?)
Perhaps everyone should start questioning themselves as to why we live in a society that teaches us to do the wrong thing. And why we obey it. No one likes confrontation; I absolutely hate it but I will do it if it is the right thing to do. And allowing a bunch of rude, disrespectful teens to behave in such a disgusting manner is definitely not the right thing to do. The bus driver cowering in fright was not in the right; the grown men and women who turned a blind eye were not in the right. So what does society consist of? Rude, cruel individuals who will torment others, cowards who refuse to stand up for themselves and physically powerful people who prefer to remain in ignorance for their own safety? We run the risk of harm to ourselves when we challenge any form of evil in this world; those boys would have run away in fear, had even one of those men rushed to my aid, but they did not. What is sad is that if they had chosen to speak up, the strength in number would have ensured the victory.
Evil prevails when good men do nothing. Next time you witness an injustice, remember that.