In college I started reading about the life of others or their works. They have profoundly entered my consciousness that when I sit down alone at my desk, I begin to remember St. Edith Stein, Buddha, Ninoy, Shinmen Musashi, Miguel de Cervantes, and other great women and men, who, one way or another profited in obscurity: a certain providential phase in one’s life lived hidden from the rest of the world, undistinguished, not enjoying the reputation they now enjoy.
Certainly, we know them by fame, but what I sense based on the life they led, is they were comfortable living obscure lives. Being in the limelight, was perchance the consequence of their passions. Reputed to have course manners, Musashi, probably the best Japanese swordsman, spent a lot of time honing his skills in forests or someplace away from villages. Edith Stein, a very intelligent Jewish girl, spent a lot of time reading, who after encountering the work of St. Theresa of Avila (she read it like overnight) converted to Catholicism and died as a nun during World War II. Ninoy, was of course forced to isolation. But his life changed while in prison, he for some reason or another started to pray the rosary and read the Bible. The list goes on.
When I read the youth section of Newspapers, especially their Sunday editions, say Star or Inquirer, I try to feel their pulse. Tumatanda na siguro ako hehe. Our educated young, are either angry (the angst of adolescents perhaps, (whispering) most of these kids are rich, man), or hungry for limelight. Yeah, a moral judgment. But I did not conclude from vacuum. Most youths wanted to be known in their fields, careers, and professions – in sum dreams. There’s nothing wrong with that. Dream on. Practice. But always remember why you chose a particular way of life. It is not to be known, nor to measure your success by popularity. If you take that path to have “ATTITUDE” is enough, (that is why it has become a banner for clothing lines,) or NOTORIETY, which is one way of being popular. Don’t take cheap shots.
This may appear like an unfair comparison, like Edith Stein to our youth, or giants against young striving people. But it is more of, what dispositions are being fostered by our great women and men, as against the dispositions by which we mold our young. I really believe that values ought to be taught. The problem is when lives about men are taught they become text-book-materials more than life-materials. Accuse me of talking airs, but, who is more life material? Miley Cyrus or Jose Rizal? Kim Kardashian or Lorenzo Ruiz? Madonna or Edith Stein? Kris Aquino or Mother Theresa of Calcutta? To whom do you think kids mostly pattern their everyday decisions? Who is coolest to follow? Whom do they know, or even we know, more about? Like they can list the boyfriends of Kris and her shows and they could explain her stand on marriage and relationships, more than they do about their respective comprehensive exams, but ask them about Lorenzo Ruiz, for example, who just lived in Binondo. Who was he, and is he influencing their everyday decisions?
What I surmise is that our society no longer values, or at least does not put premium on the ordinariness of life; to be obscure, once again, and to find meaning in it. What our great women and men are telling us is that we really need to put a lot of time for self-confrontation. We must not be impatient to emerge out of our obscurity. We have to put once again to the fore the value of a disinterested but passionate life. What is meant by this? When I was in fourth year high school we had a career talk. One of the sharers, an alumnus, said, that as-soon-to-be-graduates of our school, we have to remember two things: first to always keep a rosary in our pockets; second, to keep this short rule in life “if we know that what we have done is good, and God knows that it is good, that is enough.” When we teach our young to be good men and women, I believe that changes their hierarchy of values. Being famous will just kick in if it is for you.
– Memorial Blessed Alfonsus Navarette and Companions, Martyrs in Japan