September 2003 Vol. 3 Issue 10

An Internet Newsletter publication for all CIM Alumni and friends.

    Clem S. Estrera, Jr., M.D.

    Ma. Belen Rosales, M.D.
        Associate Editor

     Ray Castillejo, M.D.
    Binisaya Section Editor

Contributors in this Issue:

Clem S. Estrera, Jr.
    Class 1972

Ma. Belen F. Rosales
     Class 1970

Hector Vamenta
    Class 1972

Editor's Column

Human Attributes (Part 3)

Personal Charities
     Have you ever stopped to think what a wonderful thing it is to live in this country where each year millions of people through the United Way and other charities, dig down in their pockets and share what they have to those who have less. People sharing and serving food on Thanksgiving Day and collecting toys to distribute to children who have none all over the world on Christmas Day. When you stop to think about it, it's pretty inspiring. But many of us rarely if ever stop and give it a thought. We are too busy making a living and our mind is pretty occupied with the thoughts of just getting over the day.

     But for those of us who have the time to stop and think about it, there is another more inspiring kind of giving that is equally characteristic of Americans like most of us here in the U.S. Let us call it personal charities, the gifts of simple kindness that we give others and don't even remember. The friendly smiles, the little encouragement, the small compliments. The thoughtful things we do; the faith, instead of mistrust, we gladly offer; the respect and understanding, instead of anger and hostility, we show; the benefit of doubt we give so readily; and the willingness to help our fellow humans and even stranded animals.

     Yet in radio, televisions and newspapers, we hear, watch or read nothing but terrible acts of cruelty, murder, terrorism and other acts of human destruction, the selfish and mean things some people do, or how people who were trusted betrayed their trust. Indeed it's hard to avoid thinking of them and not easy to feel good about human beings. To counter these bad feelings or thoughts, you simply have to start thinking of all the good things people do that never make the headlines, those "little nameless, unremembered acts of kindness, and love" that Wordsworth wrote about. Such "gifts", he said, "are the best portion of a good man's life." People right around you are giving gifts like these every day. No doubt you, yourself, are giving your share of them. If not, you could be!

Concepts of Good and Bad
     Nowadays it's hard to have a common understanding of what is good and what is bad. Then there is politically correct and politically incorrect that seem to determine what is rude and rough, creep and crap. The concepts of good and bad have varied with times, and it seems like that since the era of television, the deciding factor is often the late night television shows like Saturday Night Life and Here's... Johnny. Indeed these midnight shows have revolutionized the concepts. At least they inject humor to make people laugh and feel good about themselves despite the obscenities.

     In past centuries, people who considered themselves good tortured others they thought bad - and felt noble about it. At one time, scarcely anyone thought that slavery was bad - except possibly the slaves. History books and even today's newspaper, television or Internet news is full of accounts of terror, suicide bombings and wars fought for "holy" causes. Muslim terrorists believe killing us Americans is good because it's their ticket to Paradise.

     In the Bible, the kings like King Solomon, were never considered wicked for having thousands of wives and concubines. Instead, King Solomon was considered one of the wisest men in history if not the wisest man. It's not hard to imagine that anyone having that so many wives and concubines has got to be wise.

     Certain natives in the wilds of Australia do not considered themselves bad being naked while taking the affairs of their daily lives. But their idea of modesty differs from our own. Physical punishments which are considered cruel by some people are carried out as a matter of course by people of other nations. Many parents particularly in the Philippines, still consider the biblical discipline for their children - spare the rod and spoil the child - as good while most if not all psychologists think it's bad.

     So what things are good? What are bad? For centuries, philosophers have been wrestling with these questions and still haven't come up with completely satisfactory answer. TV commentators and late night TV shows have only muddled the distinction. Until there is clear distinction, we might as well consider these: Whatever increases the dignity, self-respect and self-esteem or well being of the individual is good - anything that decreases it is bad. Whatever expands and exalts human personality is good - anything that destroys or degrades it is bad.