“Elitista ka kase” was the reply. “What do you mean?” I said. “Well, just don’t go. You won’t belong. You can’t even speak Tagalog.”
As though I live in a parallel world. Same patch of land, two different realities. Lineage has given you an entry pass to live amongst the elite. Add a Catholic education, append a prefix to the name, and you’re somehow set for life among the upper echelons. Now you can glance down and lord it over the lower station without having to live there. You can even refuse to look at all.
Idealism will make you ashamed of your place in the aristocracy. And so you attempt fanciful projects and pipe dreams. There are plenty in need of assistance, rotting in jails, waiting for redemption. But you don’t know how that feels like. No one spends a day in a dingy cell in your side of the world. Like a phony trying to make a difference in a world you don’t understand.
There are several ways out of the “born into privilege” plight.
You can cast out idealism, accept your place in society and carry on like the rest. Stick to your high side of the fence. Yield to the unwritten code. Drown out noise with classical music. Find a comfortable position, climb higher and relish the benefits born out of privilege.
Or perhaps, slip away quietly. Live elsewhere, in places where you don’t see the disparity so you won’t have pangs of conscience biting you. Be invisible.
You can even decide to cross the great divide. Join the ranks below. Rebel against your own side. Start a revolution.
Then it dawns on you. The word aristocrat is derived from the Greek word: aristokratia, the “rule of the best.” In Ancient Greece, aristocrats were a council of the state’s best qualified and leading citizens. And just maybe, there’s a reason for being born.
You are up there. Born and bred on higher ground. Where you don’t have to worry about survival. Instead, you can ponder over ideals and beauty and create them. You can dream big and make the big dream come true.
And so perhaps you can change the convoluted, degenerate, rotten system because you are inside. You are one of them; able to understand and speak the language. Because you can’t blow up the house where you live. Do that and you implode. So instead, you will master the structure. Learn the ropes and use them. Know it inside out, and find the keys to locked doors. Slowly make changes inside nooks and crannies. Unravel more and more of your idealism, make it live outside. There, in your upper echelons. And then, if there were others like you, you can begin changing the landscape. Until you have carved a path that somehow reaches the masses. Until one day you have hopefully narrowed the gap, even bridged it. Until you have covered enough ground, so that the your kind who makes the laws, will keep them.
And so this is a call. To the landed gentry, the ones who speak the language of our laws, the ones born to privilege, the ones schooled by the clergy who memorized Ora et Labora and Ad Majorem dei Gloriam, the ones who lord it over the rest, yes YOU. Redeem the idealism. To the likes of me, recall the oaths you once took. Where are you? What is it you do? How do you transform the vista from where you are? The making of laws; the charge of this country; the creation of wealth; the shaping of culture; and the weaving of the moral fabric of this state, has been bestowed on you as a birthright. You were born among the exalted. There’s another way to spend a legacy. And you don’t squander an inheritance. Especially when it’s a chance for redemption. Elitista ka kase.
I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck. Annie Dillard