A friend of mine who studies Zen has suggested that in reply to President Aquino’s SONA (State of the Nation Address) last July27, and vice President Binay’s TSONA (True state of the Nation Address) on August 3, the people should present “one hand clapping” or OHC for short.
OHC, he says, will literally disarm the two highest officials of the land and their rabid supporters. This is the best riposte for their uniform dishonesty in reporting on the state of the nation and the plight of our millions.
The sound of only one hand clapping will deflate the egos of Aquino and Binay.
It will surely discourage the writing and delivery of a Counter-Tsona, because it would be laughed off by everyone. Who would want to deliver now a Counter-tsona?
An audit of the nation
In the advanced democracies particularly in the United Kingdom, the mother of parliaments, the state of the nation address is treated as nothing less than “an audit of the nation” – not of one part or aspect of the nation, but of the entire nation.
This is instructive, because audits, as public officials and members of Congress well know and dread, involve facts and figures and data properly digested and interpreted. When the auditors are competent and serious, you can run, but you cannot hide.
Neither Aquino nor Binay did such an audit of our national life in their respective reports. Neither knew how or had the stamina to do a real audit. Both their efforts were strictly for propaganda purposes – to inflate their egos and hurt their enemies.
In his final SONA, the president did a little mathematics, but it was strictly a pedestrian counting of things, like arms and pistols distributed to policemen and soldiers, schoolrooms built for the public school system, and on and on and on.
Most of us waited in vain for the expected inventory of national problems and what his government is doing or will do about them, but then he got distracted by the thought that his main problem from 2010 up to now is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. It was never, never land from there on.
As for a road map during the final year of his presidency, he spoke glowingly about his “tuwid na daan” or straight path governing philosophy. Yet once again, he could not offer a map or a plan to follow.
His main agenda, it appears, is for his chosen one and the Liberal party to win in the May 2016 elections.
Binay offers a heckler’s response
Mr. Binay grandiosely promised that he would offer a report on the true state of the nation.
But instead of a report, what he gave was only a heckler’s superficial reading of the Aquino SONA. He took potshots at everything he could find fault with.
He went all th way to Cavite to deliver his Tsona, so much so that it seemed like he was John the Baptist crying in the wilderness.
But Binay made no serious assessment of the state of the nation, based on a careful analysis and review of facts and figures and policies.
The lengthy litany of grievances did not cohere into a whole, except for the refrain, “jobs, jobs, jobs, services, services, services.”
Like the leader he is criticizing, Binay could offer no vision of the kind of nation and the kind of government he will build if he is fortunate enough to get elected in May next year.
I waded patiently through the Filipino text of Binay’s address (like Aquino, he was too lazy and absent-minded to order an English translation of his address). Wading through the thing (I can read and understand Filipino competently), I never got a sense that the Vice President has a clear idea of what he will do in office and where he will take our country and our people.
The only thing that’s clear is that he will be different from BS Aquino, and he will not adopt the straight path program. Which, of course, does not mean, he will adopt a crooked path as the alternative.
At the end of both reports, Aquino and Binay mirrored each other. Each sought to use others, ordinary citizens, to do the heavy lifting for them. Aquino paraded witnesses to testify to the beneficence of his policies and programs.
Binay employed the memory and martryrdom of the murdered SAF 44 commandos as his chief prop in extolling selfless public service, and attacking the heartlessness of President Aquino.
He was aided by a vivid mural of the SAF 44 which was deployed as backdrop for the address.
The exploitation did not sit well with some of the widows and relatives. This will be milked by administration propagandists.
One hand clapping
“What is the sound of one hand clapping?” is a traditional Zen koan — a question posed by a Zen master to a student.
It is meant to be pondered from within the routine of daily life until the answer opens the true heart of the question. All koans must be answered from within the realm of one’s own personal experience, and thus be encountered in the journey of living.
People who have truly lived with a koan for an extended period of time come to experience the answer. There eventually comes a certain opening of awareness, and a manifestation of the heart of compassion.
Finally, one Zen student says, “What is the sound of one hand clapping? The sound of one hand clapping is silence.”
Methinks that when our people respond to the dishonest speech of their top leaders with one hand clapping, ergo silence, they will begin to think and reflect, and maybe even reform and lead effectively.