Breaking submission


Freedom of expression and press has its own history of rocky beginnings here in the late fifties. We had to endure the forced culture of submission that collides with lessons from the educational system that encourages use of personal rights.

Our first day out of the fence of submission was wild and unruly. We thought the two personal freedoms were absolute! Slowly, we learned that we must use it responsibly.

Political campaign rallies became the forum to malign the opposition from A-Z. It didn’t stop until someone brought a defamation lawsuit to court. It brought some semblance of civility. We learned that there are such things as slander and libel.

Before the lawsuit, I heard raw filth from adultery to aspersions trumpeted publicly. After the lawsuit, politicians started turning to issues. This is where you see candidates’ inability to articulate issues but shout it down with tons of “biba” crawling out of their ears.

In a way, I earned my personal freedoms. Recalled writing a letter to the editor that riled up the elderly in the clan. Mom was going to slam my head with a broomstick. I had to relocate to my paternal grandma for a while. But I refuse to give up writing. Perhaps this experience hardened my conviction to scribble my views that started in 1972 in both English and vernacular. I’ve been doing it since.

Submission wasn’t cultural. It was forced behavior upon our forefathers who had to navigate survival to avoid cultural genocide from colonial powers. They learned to whisper and kept views hidden from fatal exposure. It must have been a hellish experience!

Imagine dealing with colonial masters who simply have no respect for indigenous way of life. Colonial command and control simply missed a glaring point: we are the permanent hosts! The journey however long granted us the opportunity to learn self-rule. We also learned that we could agree to disagree with civility. That was quite a feat of accomplishment at the socio-political level.

Those were difficult days but I’ve never lost sight of the need to begin exercising our freedom of expression and the press. It’s the foundation of fostering an informed citizenry. Keeping the multitude ignorant only happens in communist countries.

Writing commentaries was initially met with disdain and seen as arrogance or contrary to social mores of keeping your opinion to yourself. This took a little jungle fighting to smooth the new path to promoting discussion. It presents the opportunity to probe issues beyond conventional wisdom.

Over the years, I’ve learned to look at the larger picture a mindset I honed from Micronesia’s visionaries over the years. It’s the group with real intellectual acuity that takes me to the hilt in the thorough review of assigned issues. It became a discipline I find most helpful throughout my career.

If I may assert: most of what you’ve read under my byline isn’t necessarily my voice. It’s your voice! It’s what you’ve told me that have enabled my telling your insightful version of the issue. Let’s join hands in defense of a government of laws! No breathing room to grant the sense of entitlement to clueless politicians that they are free to shred our livelihood! Enough Is Enough!

Negligence: The ghost of negligence, lack of vision and ignorance on USPL 110-229 came back haunting us today with catastrophic economic implications. It’s all about vision or ability to see “beyond the years”. Didn’t know we never had it.

I’ve learned to listen to the voice of reason. I would consult with intellectually mature and educated friends on issues and events as they unfold. More often than not we would cringe how the elected officials approach matters of state with shallowness or cluelessness or both.

We know how this negligence would eventually adversely affect the livelihood of villagers when the chips are down. The incoherence is appalling! The bravery to double up on incoherence is humiliating!

Sears Roebuck: My buddy Magoo was sipping beer swinging his feet happily while sitting on a bench. He’d flash a quick smile then turns to friends to continue his conversation.

I could tell what’s in his mind with smiles that are too telling. This time it was a sly smile that only Lucifer could decipher. He looked up shaking his head.

Said he, “Braddah, you’re wasting your time writing about issues like the 902 Entourage. Can’t you see it has renamed itself the SearsRoebuck Team?” I pressed him for an explanation. He said that the guys and gals went shopping and came home to show us the latest fad.

A bit too hard understanding the new name: Sears Roebuck 902 Team! I braved suggesting Nordstrom or Brookes Brothers. Said he, “Please, our friends are confused already. Don’t send them venturing into another shopping spree!”

‘You don’t looking me:’ Magoo also related he isn’t hopeful of the re-election of incumbents saying a quick glimpse at their woefully bad performances and parade of failures are sufficient to boot them from office.

Said he, “What is most humiliating is the obvious incoherence in the way they handle issues missing the mark by oceans apart”.

“You break down the issue on economic depression landing squarely in family pocketbooks”, he noted. Asked he, “What have they done to help families deal with the constantly increasing cost of basic goods while salaries are stuck in the mud for over twenty years?”

It was hard neutralizing the brutal truth of his view on hardship that is found in families throughout the villages. I tried rationalizing it but he was quick to say, “You don’t looking me…” In brief, the elected officials have ignored their people. How do I change the story or how do you sell a rusty broken lawn mower left abandoned in the backyard?

John S. Del Rosario Jr. | Contributing Author
John DelRosario Jr. is a former publisher of the Saipan Tribune and a former secretary of the Department of Public Lands.

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