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I woke up one morning with a sore throat. It felt like I had swallowed some sandpaper, the coarsest one. Then, I started getting tense and apprehensive because it was Saturday morning, and I had the weekend ahead. For priests, weekends are hectic, to say the least. I got up from bed and made sure I took a full glass of water, hoping, of course, that this would help ease the pain in my throat. Luckily, it prompted some mucous secretions to find their way out. I do not mean to be so graphic, but there were streaks of black in my mucous. I knew then that this was my body’s reaction to the smog building up in the atmosphere, which was now in my respiratory system.
I was reminded of when I was riding with a family in their car. They were bringing me back to the EDSA Shrine. While driving along the highway across the ADB building, their young girl asked, “Daddy, what is that?” She was pointing at some pollution meters they set up along EDSA to measure the pollution level in the city. The measuring device looked pathetic. It was so dirty, and you probably know it: it was not working.
The meter could take it no longer. There was just too much smog. Now it stands there like a monument to remind everyone: this is how dirty our air is. It is more carbon monoxide than oxygen. I was standing there, feeling something like that broken-down pollution meter, as if I was about to conk out myself.
Tsk, Tsk, Tsk, we exclaim! It is nice to blame all the buses, trucks, and smoke-belching vehicles that ply that route. Easy to point that accusing finger. Yet, if we think about it, pollution is not solely confined to air pollution. There is noise pollution, pollution of our waters, and pollution because of uncollected garbage left heaped on our streets. There is even the pollution of our minds fed with all these ideas of violence, tax evasion stories, hostage dramas, drug abuse, abortion, easy way to riches stories, rampant cheating, getting around the rules, and a whole long list of news that invade our homes through the television, newspaper and the radio.
Our water tells us through the red tide that enough garbage has been thrown into it. A presumably innocent citizen has a bite of the contaminated shellfish, and down goes his system. Are you sure that that presumably innocent victim has never littered the streets from his jeepney window? Has he not spat phlegm as he was walking the streets? Are you sure he is not a very rich Filipino who, instead of complying with the unified traffic scheme and trying to carpool, has bought a new car so as not to get inconvenienced? There goes one more car to pollute our atmosphere. There goes one more car to consume more fuel, to take up more space in the streets. One more car that will not help ease up traffic. And so on and so forth.
We cannot wash our hands completely. We must be realistic and find out how we contribute to all of these ways of preventing us from “clean” living.
For instance, while we are studying or working, must we keep the television or radio on even if we are not actively watching or listening? Imagine, if we multiply the amount of power generated and consumed by the number of people who do keep the TV or radio on “for company,” we could probably gather enough megawatts to give electrical power to a whole barrio in the province. Another benefit is there will be fewer people with frayed nerves because, like the meter or even the weighing scale, which can only take so much, man has his limits too.
The human body is capable of much more, perhaps, but it is finite, too, and definitely has its limits. The body has no definite or exact gauge to tell us that it has had enough.
We will not hear any warning bells to notify us that we must stop. One day we can’t concentrate, and we can’t remember things. We start feeling extreme fatigue or get extra cranky. All these are signs of stress. Warnings that tell us that the body is probably accumulating too much rubbish. We cannot keep all these “toxins” inside us. There must be a way out.
Things that have value cannot be ignored. If they mean much to us, we guard them with our lives. We devote time to their care. If the air we breathe means anything to us, we must fight for this cause. We must fight to keep it clean. It is not enough that we do not smoke, our cars do not smoke belch, and we do not throw things off our car windows or into the Pasig River. It is not enough that we know how to dispose of our garbage. The fact remains that there is a problem. There is a problem even with the television shows and movies we watch. We cannot keep shrugging our shoulders when violent themes are often shown on our TV and movie screens. We cannot take it sitting down.
If we are doing anything actively to fight the problem on a big scale, maybe our little efforts will go to waste. Maybe just maybe. Are you willing to leave it to chance? You only have one life to live. How about all those people you love? They have only one life, too, and maybe you have the key to a better, cleaner, more wholesome one.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FILTH?
Jesus Our Light