OPINION: Circus

Tin Bartolome - Hopechest

Posted at Oct 06 2017 04:49 PM | Updated as of Oct 06 2017 05:15 PM

I do not know anyone who was never curious nor interested, even for a brief moment in their lives as children or adults—in circuses, the equivalent of school fairs to teens and young adults and the perya or peryahan to Pinoys in general. From the rides to the food stalls and sideshows, this form of entertainment engages all age groups. Today, there are theme parks, awesome stage performances reminiscent of circus tent performances and the Houses, both Upper and Lower.

Unlike the sideshows, however, what we see is not funny at all. What is tragic is that people who can afford and do watch those breathtaking performances of acrobats and magicians in special airconditioned venues actually pay a lot to do so, but these same people are the ones able to avoid the high cost of performances in the Upper and Lower Houses. Those from whose earnings taxes are already deducted before these even reach their hands bear most of the cost of this sideshow.

Clowns are a main feature of circuses and even the perya. School fairs do not usually have clowns but theme parks do, though they do not look the same anymore. What is insidious however, is the fact that some clowns do not intend to be funny! Which brings me to this question: Is “pretend” (or “role play”) the same as lying or mental reservation?

I will not go into clowns in government, but I must point out a concept called “societal regression”. A post on a site called Resilience explains, “The signs of societal regression are the same as those in chronically anxious families: reactivity that trumps the instinctual drive toward self-regulation; irrational arguments sustained by emotional appeal; herding that calls people to adapt to weakness, i.e. to the crowd and its pressures to embrace togetherness… Eventually societal institutions pick up the anxiety (reactivity/herding/blaming, etc.) of people and families, and magnify it. Public media are particularly good at such magnification. The media don’t cause problems/anxiety; they amplify it. They tend to focus on pathology in society rather than on strength, and in response to pathology on the search for certainty and security. Regressive societies and their leaders will always focus on information, technique, and security. Safety and the reduction of mistakes are the greatest goods. In this sort of climate challenge and adventure are casualties. Mistakes are acceptable in the context of adventure; we learn from them. But mistakes are magnified and punished in the context of safety.”

This was posted in 2003, but to me, it seems like it’s an appropriate description of what we are going through now. This leads me to ask: what kind of families did these clowns come from? And more importantly, what kind of families are we nurturing now? The biggest reason why my thoughts of working abroad died a sudden death suddenly crossed my mind. 

When my only daughter, then only in third or fourth grade, found out that I was one interview shy of landing a job abroad, stood menacingly at our bedroom door, arms on her hips and a scowl on her face. She said, “What’s this I hear that someone has plans of working abroad? Only vacations and short trips are allowed, is that understood?” Instead of anger, I was deeply touched, not only by her courage to say what was in her mind, but also communicate what was in her heart. 

Indeed, I never regretted foregoing that opportunity, even if it meant more money for my family. I realized then that more than the entertainment the circuses and theme parks provide, it’s the happiness of experiencing everything with loved ones that counts the most.
 

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.