The Summer of Our Disquiet &


Aurelio Solver Agcaoili

Observer, Sept. 2009

Let it be told: that hope is something that gives logic and sense to the kind of life we live—and lead—nowadays.

Finally, we have an antidote to all this cynicism that has befallen us, we who have come to this land but remained rooted, in a many ways, to the other homeland we left behind: it is hope springing from the soothing days and nights of summer.

We see signs of the American economy bouncing back to health—or so we hope. We are told that the proofs are there to behold.

While some places are still reeling from the untold stories of suffering we have not witnessed in a long while because of this recession holding us hostage, some places, we come to know, have come back to life.

With this news we know we are renewed, in spirit.

With this news comes our resolve to get past this test of our resiliency and enduring power.

The sorrowful stories looked like restatements of a mystery: homes foreclosed, families living in tents, sick people unable to buy the necessary medicine to get the healing they are badly in need of, and soup kitchens mushrooming in depressed places.

Now we look back to Summer 2009.

It was the summer of sun and surf, true—but it was also an extreme: this sorry condition of our lives. The sun was up for all and shone for all but there was this deep blackness as well.

In the Philippines was a death—that of a President dearly loved for the symbol she stood for: the death of democracy and dictatorship.

Cory Aquino was all that: the return of democracy to the people and of the many other things denied of them for so long including dignity, self-respect, and basic freedoms.

The people of the Philippines queued up to bury her as they did in 1983 when they came in droves to bury her husband who came home to confront the dictator who was losing control of the institutions of the country in those times.

The man, Benigno Aquino Jr., was felled by ambition and greed and ill will. But his memory rose to life, a memory that incited the people to reclaim their own power. That act, collective and spontaneous, gave the world a template for resistance and bloodless revolution.

In the United States were two deaths: Michael Jackson, the pop icon, and Ted Kennedy, the ‘greatest senator’ of this land.

These deaths do not come to us as spectacles but lessons in mortality and the finitude of human life.

But these are lessons too of the crooked and rugged ways to greatness—and that shifting definition about what it is all about in the midst of all the shifting realities of our contemporary lives.

The summer, indeed, was worth it: the memory we will hold dear in our hearts is worth it.

But this summer also gave us these occasions of disquiet and discontent.

Disquiet for the jolting and jarring effect of all these events.

Discontent because we have yet to achieve what we have vowed to pursue: this rising from a recession that continues to challenge our resolve to do good in the world despite the odds.

Summer leaves behind warm and sunny life lessons that will linger on.

And these lessons have something to do with the quietude we seek and the contentment we want to have, finally.

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