As adults we know the troubles that arise when we assume something. Dividing the word up with a closer look at the first three letters sends us reeling for some lame claim it won’t happen to us. But we go in and out of our daily routine, unconsciously taking things for granted once more or assuming everything’s fine, only to repeat old habits.
For instance, we get into our cars taking for granted that when we switch the ignition it will fire up and off we go. We assume that when we go to the store there would be food on shelves and chill boxes.
We assume that the delivery of healthcare is fine, forgetting that severe underfunding has crippled operations at CHC. We assume there’s revenue, unaware that this administration has exacted severe economic contraction for six steady years. Perhaps Fitial and Inos have credible answers to convey to the cynically and suspiciously trusting multitude for their prominently visible inaction.
Could we assume we’d be able to defray the cost of basic services, given the severity of revenue contraction in recent past? Is it safe to assume you’d still have a job in the near term? Can we assume the administration could meet its debts with the Retirement Fund?
With revenue scarcity, can you still assume you’d have the ability to pay for the first family home if you’re included in a reduction-in-force? Would austerity help you any if it has to be trimmed even further? With a likely severe blow to your salary, would you still be able to afford the prohibitive cost of utilities, gasoline at the pumps, health insurance, family healthcare, monthly medication, and basic goods? What if as a retiree you find your bank account empty because the Fund is finally broke? What’s beyond the mess we’re in? Hopelessness? Uncertainty? More red shirts spewing off tired old lies?
The bankruptcy that has engulfed these islands isn’t anything we could take for granted or assume there’s a permanent fix to it. The instant soba mindset doesn’t fit this traumatic, if not crippling financial scenario. It isn’t a perceptual condition either, given its reality, severity and how it has paralyzed our confidence in jobs, pension, healthcare, education, etc.
There’s no room for sweet mañana or the usual mediocrity that has devoured the minds of the elected elite like flesh eating bacteria. At least we could agree (and not assume) that taking things for granted belongs in the ash heap of the Puerto Rico dump.
Too, history is replete with lessons why one must never assume anything!
The joy of losing
One of the various idiosyncrasies I do is picking and researching a simple or complex topic then preparing something for this corner of the paper in hopes of being understood specifically in the perspective that I’ve carved for public consumption. Never short on inspiration, I love working with ideas no matter how simple or difficult.
This routine brought me back to the incipiency of politics in the islands in the '50s and '60s. I only caught the late '50s and early '60s and missed the more bigoted period plastered in ethnocentricity that hailed from Carolinians and Chamorros or popular and progressive parties.
The political intramural was like rooting for a baseball team that loses 100 out of 103 games per season. I don’t attend campaigns to steel my spine, perfect my character nor did I aspire to enter the fray or journey into the dark night of the soul. Bigotry was sufficiently a discouraging word. Losing was normal MO for the progressive party.
In nearly every game, the popular party would score seven grand slams about every inning. There’s nothing charming, cuddly or amusing when automatic loss is the baptismal curse handed redundantly on a silver platter at game’s end. Well, after seasons of consistent loss it no longer triggers anger but a punctured ego far removed from the realm of calamity. Your team goes home with tails tucked between their legs.
You go to the old baseball field in Susupe as twilight gleams, kids romping and everyone is happy including my team set to lose another outing. Even opposing fans cheer lustily for our J-4s especially when the score is close like 12-1. And we love the absence of expectations. It was just friendly competition.
Baseball is a slow game as I found out in broadcasting long time ago. It’s boring, complex, cerebral and without histrionics. When our team repeats defeat, the calm is eerily silent and a bit more profound. But faithful fans are relaxed, tolerant, and appreciative of any small, even superficial moral victory, on our behalf.
There was once an outing when the game was even up to the last inning. The progressive had the winning run on second. It was an all out chance for its first pennant. When the slugger hit a long knock to deep center field, a fan deflected it and the game was declared a tie. The fan went into permanent hiding while the fateful ball was ritually exorcised on suspicion it was tainted with deadly local medicine, like young coconut fronds just picked off a tree.
Throughout the years, the progressives finally pieced the missing puzzle together. It was able to remove competent mediocrity and lame respectability to tire out the opposition in the late '70s. But for the length of time it had to endure losses, their attitude of learning the joy of losing was admirable.
Bankruptcy: Rep. S. Ramon Basa said there’s a "rebound" in the local economy alluding to some additional $12 million in "projected" revenues. That assertion is insufficient and he must ensure earmarks for Medicaid and SNAP too. A lot of people need healthcare, critical medication and some more moolah to put food on the table. Fan ma’ase’ ni anten miyu.
John DelRosario Jr. is a former publisher of Saipan Tribune and a former secretary of Department of Public Lands.