Erle Frayne Argonza
Magandang araw! Buenos dias! Good day!
My reflection for the moment will be about honors. It is a basic human behavior to seek for honors as part of the ‘esteem needs’ (echoing Abraham Maslow and eastern Masters). I see nothing wrong with seeking for honors, but what is wrong is when one reduces honors to that of receiving trophies & medals as the rewards for a series of achievements.
The tall order for everybody is to build honorable behavior throughout their lives. And honorable behavior cannot and should not be reduced to mere trophies & medals. And one should not be fixated to those honors that s/he receives, because whether you like it or not, the honored feats belong to the past, and to be so fixated on past glories can disable you to achieve your future goals. Focus on your dreams, as I had been always been saying, and consign the previous glories to the past.
The moment that you begin to receive honors as a tot and adolescent, you must bear in mind to sustain that behavior. And by sustaining I don’t mean you should continue to receive trophies & medals, but that you must, in your daily conduct of life, exude honorable behavior at all times that would befit the esteem of a ‘person of honors’. This task is the tougher work contrasted to receiving trophies & medals or equivalents.
The narratives about people who, once out in the real world to pursue careers in life, exhibit pitfalls and dishonorable behavior, are common. And I mean, people who once received honors of every kind in their youthful years, from athletics to art honors, from leadership to academic honors. The tragedy is that once out in the real world, they manifest every kind of dishonorable behavior, or get engaged in strings of shameful behavior that would surely dishonor their own esteemed names and that of their respective family’s. They get involved in every kind of scandal, such as sex, corruption, and criminality scandals. They also get mired in every kind of dirty operations and machinations that ruin some other peoples’ lives or careers in the process.
Below is an anecdote that I wish to share to substantiate this note:
A former female student of mine at the premier university had a reunion with me in 2005 for the first time after her 1995 graduation. She was a product of one of the most prestigious state high schools (located in Manila), an honorable behavior that she resumed in college as she graduated with honors in the strongest degree program in her college. During the reunion, I was shocked to find out about her self-revealing story of how her being lackadaisical in life ruined her hard-earned honorable esteem.
Darna (not her real name), short and petite, fair skinned, with long-flowing hair, would be any boy’s dream girl. Intelligent and articulate, conversationalist and cultured, and freely spirited too, she was among those who gravitated to me while in college. She was so focused then in her studies that she never gave it priority to have a boyfriend, which puzzled me because she truly is a cute, attractive girl. Puzzled, because I would prefer that adolescents begin socio-emotional maturation works by having love partners past their age of 18. Failure to do that would redound to a chasm in the emotional make-up of the person that would backlash as emotional disasters in the future.
And that was precisely what happened to Darna. She married pronto upon meeting a guy after college, and then lived a Cinderella-type illusion thereafter. She retreated to a province, lived a housewife’s life for five (5) years, and then finding out too late about the illusion, blamed her husband for her drifting jobless state. She divorced her husband after bearing him a child. After that, she began looking for work, and unluckily she couldn’t get the break she needs. At age 30 (when I saw her again), she was still doing entry-level tasks just to keep her life afloat, including language tutoring for foreign clients.
She also revealed to me that there were other honors graduates who, just like her, were flops and sops when they moved into the real world of rat race and financial highways. And, she meant, these were her batch-mates in college. How pathetic of formerly honorable students to say the least!
To make matters worse, in another occasion Darna had a ‘one-night stand’ with a man whom she met for the first time and got pregnant accidentally. The man is my fraternity brother and also a graduate of the same college where Darna pursued her studies, whom I invited for a coffee chat one day together with another brod. While we were leaving the coffee shop, Darna was invited by my brethren to a dance party, and there the libidinal fires ended in a motel consummation at past midnight. I never heard from Darna again after that, and I guess she lose face for her scandalously flirtatious behavior.
The yogi and guru in me make me one not-so-judgemental person, and I am not wont to claim that somebody like her “is beyond redemption.” Judgement belongs to a department of evolved beings in another dimension, and I will not preempt the beings’ decision about redemption. Darna has seeker qualities which hopefully I wished to advanced when we saw each other again. And I don’t mind her flaunting signs of her misconduct at all, for I know that she is productive in other pursuits. She counsels younger souls pro bono, she can do listening tasks. But she lost face, so I do understand her state.
To conclude, I had always held the position since my younger days that getting honors in youthful days is no good predictor of future achievements. It takes a totality of intelligence in all the dimensions of growth –physical, emotional, social, mental, intuitive, esthetic, courage, wisdom—to be able to succeed in life later. And, hopefully, along the way, ensue with honorable behavior at all times. This is the challenge to us all, to continue to build honorable behavior that would make us tall in the eyes of our fellows and the transcendent beings after we retire from the face of the Earth.
[Writ 25 June 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]