Sen. Cory Booker


He is 48 years old. He was mayor of Newark, New Jersey, and now serves as a senator of the United States Congress. With the popular Pope Francis recently a pleasant wave on U.S. consciousness’ terrain, I ran into this quote from Cory Booker, and found it not too far from our brand of the Rock-of-Peter Christianity. He said:

Don’t speak to me about your religion;
first show it to me in how you treat other people.
Don’t tell me how much you love your God;
show me how much you love God’s children.
Don’t preach to me your passion for your faith;
teach me through your compassion for your neighbors.
In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell
as in how you choose to live and give.

I went to school in Kentucky and Texas, took a study break in North Carolina, returned to finish a master’s degree in Texas. In three years, I spent my first summer in the West Coast, primarily SF and LA, the second in the Midwest, mostly Chicago, and the third, in the East Coast from Mount Katahdin in Maine to the Piedmont of Appalachia in Tar Heel country through metropolitan Boston-NYC-Baltimore axis. 

My primal spouse comes from metro Chicago. I met the Institute of Cultural Affairs in Chicago’s Westside in ‘67, a bunch of white “crazies” who lived in a black community. I joined the “crazies” in Manila, coincidentally on the same day that McCoy declared martial law. In 14 years with the ICA, I traversed all the 48 contiguous states of the Union save Vermont. I lived in Saskatoon for two years, had a taste of the tundra in Alaska, salmon in British Columbia, the Metis of Manitoba, and the Quebecois of East Canada. 

I visited London, Madrid, Paris, Rome, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Honolulu, and Apia, spent two months in Maliwada, Maharashtra, India, taught a Global Academy in Chicago, an International Training Institute for church workers in Manila, Venezuela, and California, a Human Development Training School in Nigeria, Tonga, and the Philippines, conducted economic acceleration treks in villages in Guatemala, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, and Jamaica. 

My Earthrise consciousness turned global in ‘68. I hotfooted it to Jakarta, drove on the left side of the road in the North to the South islands of Kiwi land (NZ), saw the towers of Kuala Lumpur, connected Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne, toured Zhongguo of Beijing-Xi’an-Shanghai-Suzhou-Hangzhou-HK-and-Taipei shortly after the Tiananmen incident of ‘89. 

That is only half of the spatial journey!

The Chinese word for “bragging” is cui niu, “cow blow.” We are not “cow blowing” with the above places we had been to. We portray the difference between the academic mind of a Thomas Aquinas vs the footmarks of a Marco Polo. The first is familiar with historical eras while space freaks like Polo find going in-and-out of pristine places in the planet an adventure.

This mind embraces the height, width, and breath of human history, relying on oration and narration. This heart asks where one has been and traces the calluses of one’s feet and hands with empathy.

Education in the scholastic tradition focuses on cultivating the mind. The societal wisdom, style, and symbols focus on what we declare, less on what we do. Past deeds are deduced from leftover artifacts but we regard the passing of legislation as deeds, and the refinement of elocution erudition.

As a former teacher in the CNMI Public School System, parents “cow blow” awards their children earned as if that elevates them above their peers. Not in Cory Booker’s book, and definitely not in mine. Many schools discard the grading system as obsolete and replete with numerous misuses, countering the real aims of learning and the goals of authentic education.

Moving away from fine-tuning mental processes on language vocabulary, to learning from one’s own actions, deeds are more effective in transcending words to empower and punch out live performances.

Growing up in the politics of post-WWII Philippines, what passed for governance was the ability to engage the minds of people in a common train of thought, i.e., communism decried and democracy idolized, all in the realm of ideas and cognition. It didn’t matter if preferred leaders lined their pockets with silver, as long as they talked the talk; we didn’t pay much attention to the quality of their walk. Status was established by words rather than deeds.

We are not cheerleaders for Obama, though I am proud to have him as President. The Internet is replete with “Obummer.” I do not judge Obama by the legislation passed during his watch. I see him for how he acted in social milieu rather than what he did not do in office. More significantly, he deftly resisted Pentagon’s egging of the Oval Office at every turn that previously made the country unpopular and reviled worldwide.

In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live and give. Cory Booker stands on the merit of deeds. So do we.

Jaime R. Vergara | Special to the Saipan Tribune
Jaime Vergara previously taught at SVES in the CNMI. A peripatetic pedagogue, he last taught in China but makes Honolulu, Shenyang, and Saipan home. He can be reached at

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