Special to the Saipan Tribune
My No. 2 daughter Teresa got married on 02.02.2002 in Honolulu to Niall, a laddie from Galway of Eire/Erin/Innisfall, the land that poets romantically dub as a place where one frolics in the happy admixture of fact and fiction, of the happy marriage of information, intuition and imagination. Niall found employment tunneling through mountains and under rivers in the US of A, and we do not mean digging a hole with spade, pick, and hoe. His crew bores and barrels underground churning rock and mineral to make way for highways and subways. Whatever significance my Scot-Anglo-German-Indo-Sino-Malay daughter and her Gaelic husband attributed to the multi-two numerology on their wedding date, they kept it to their own self-story of personal blessed bliss.
Not so in China with yesterday’s 11.11.11, day of six ones, observed as a “Singles Only” day. Since this is our double-six year (liuliu, 66) of existence (also depicted as 111111/111111), a colleague pointed out that I might celebrate its numerological significance twice, or of double intensity. Yesterday was a day of single aloneness and since I come quite intentionally with our chosen solitary monastic mendicant lifestyle, yesterday should have been deja vu, just another day.
But in the uncanny (eerie strange weirdness of the Freudian sense) turn of events, it was also the day the son (Slav-Celt-Iberian-Han) of our Belgian-Chinese colleague celebrated the 111th day of his birth, adding another three “ones” on the six, so we supped over exquisite Sino cuisine with Belgian wine, cheese and chocolate, and indulged in a quiet evening of culinary and olfactory refinements. Ai-yah, and with a coterie of international ladies and gentlemen at dinner, we were encouraged to toast our single blessedness, as well?
Today, we cannot be hua hua gong zi (playful) with the ladies. The facticity of our singleness is affirmed! Nothing about Victorian morality here, just being single-minded, and singularly focused. And so it is, but we will go one step further into extolling our lucidity that everyone, each of us, is a solitary self, and the journeys of our lives are best appropriated in its individuality rather than its social connectivity. If the old U.S. social contract declares that “all men (sic) are created equal,” in today’s revolution, we say that “everyone is to be treated equal” (equally to the grammarian purist, but we’ll exercise poetic license).
With our Chinese students, we are wont to point to the big picture. Putunghua (common language) favors group consciousness and the intricate rituals of maintaining “face,” what is publicly experienced, is given high premium. China is a nation of multi-layered facades. Appearances counts and reality that adheres to “truth” is too complex to portray. On the other hand, the students are learning the language of science, the urban and the secular, and English in its usage favors the discourse of self-consciousness. In fact, the aim of education, specifically and generally, is the triune articulation of self-consciousness: to be economically self-sustaining, politically self-reliant, and culturally self-confident.
Ayn Rand, best known for her Fountainhed and Atlas Shrugged, and the cult of rugged individualism she inspired are often accused of being indifferent to social conscience. We know that some of our more colorful personalities on island swear by her shadow. The political left tends to caricature her emphasis on personal freedom and free enterprise as sociopathic politics. With the powerful black-and-white image of the Russian-American lady holding a cigarette with an upturned nose defiant of social norms, behaviorally acted as well, adds fuel to the fire.
No matter. It is not the austerity of Ayn Rand’s politics, even as reflected in the Tea Party movement, or the simple elegance of some of the “Occupy” expressions that interest us. It is the democratic notion that each of us is to be treated equally as individuals rather as units of an eco-political horde that warms our singularly egalitarian heart this singles’ day. Admittedly, each of us has more in common biologically (97 percent of our DNA are similar) than the minute aspects of our diversity, but the modern foundation of individual and human rights is precisely on that 3 percent vive la difference (ontological quality of intra-specie existence). The trait invites humane cooperation and collaboration, rather than animalistic clobbering competition, a tenet of corporate capitalism in today’s financial collapse and economic chaos.
Perhaps, my son-in-law’s Erin tradition of combined metaphorical information, intuition, and imagination may be appropriated. Einstein once commented that imagination is more important than intelligence, and if our leaders (and journalists) would operate less out of spinning statistics on the guise of objectivity and intuit informed existential experience, we might be able to hear the “hurts and yearnings” of the primal screamers among our disenchanted young and ‘occupy’ folks!
Singly, we are, now and ever shall be!
Vergara is a regular contributor to the Saipan Tribune’s Opinion Section.