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Essay- John and Juan

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    John and Juan

                There are times when I find myself wondering about what I read from the papers and what I hear from friends about multi-ethnicity and diversity in American society today.  In particular, I have tried, on numerous occasions, to ponder just what makes a white man different from a Latino?  For instance, why does it cost a white gardener more than a Latino gardener?

                I am quite certain that John, who is white, has basically the same needs – economic, spiritual, or biological – as Juan, a Latino who is perhaps from Mexico, has.  John has to pay for rent, buy his food, clothe himself, look after his health, and maybe wish that at the end of the day, his earnings afford him to save some for his future needs.  That is what everybody does to his or her life.  Looking at Juan from Mexico, I see practically the same man with exactly the same economic needs as John who is from California.  He might call his rent renta, but he still has to pay for it just as John pays for his rent.  Juan, who is more likely a Catholic, probably likes to have some time to go to church and pray to his God at least once a week, most probably every Sunday.  John could be a member of the Methodist Church, he might be a Mormon or even a convert to Islam, but he, too, has to go somewhere to worship his God.

                Now I wonder what Juan does to satisfy his biological needs.  I do not even know if he is married or has a girlfriend tucked away somewhere.  Either way, Juan certainly spends for this just as John does whenever he takes his girl out.  No one man – provided he is biologically normal – can simply ignore as basic a need as this.

                So there it is.  John works for a living, Juan has to work to pay his dues.  John is a qualified gardener but Juan takes care of plants just as efficiently.  It is evident that they need more or less the same income to make both ends meet.  So why make a fuss of who should earn more?

    Is Muslim = Terrorist?

                In the aftermath of the 9/11 bombings, a citizen-in-the-street would shudder at the sight of a Muslim.  I am certain why this is so, and I am not blaming him or her.  The United States government has blamed not only the bombings but also the world’s woes caused by terrorism, on Muslims.  Consequently, anybody who has little or no knowledge about Islam and Muslims could be expected to harbor fear.  This has prompted me to take a closer look at Islam and compare it with Christianity, so that I will have a better grasp of things and not simply shudder at the sight of a Muslim just as the citizen-in-the-street does.  After a long talk with an articulate Muslim, I found out that there are many similarities between Islam and Christianity.

                Bonsan, my newfound Muslim friend, told me that Islam, like Christianity, is a monotheistic religion.  Hence, like Christians, they also believe in one God who created the universe and who is merciful to those who repent.  Hell is a common belief in both religions where the unrepentant sinners are consigned.  Their prophet, Muhammad, who became the model for all Muslims, showed them how to live in peace and become brothers to all men – exactly what Jesus Christ did.  Moreover, from personal experience, I know that a devout Christian would pray upon waking up in the morning, before each meal which is three times a day, and at night before going to bed, for a total of five prayers a day.  In Islam, Bonsan told me that one of their five pillars is the daily prayer which requires all Muslims to pray five times a day while kneeling down and facing the general direction of Mecca, their holy city.

                From the foregoing, I believe it would be prudent for me to allay the fears of other Americans with regards Muslims.  Surely a Muslim who, like a Christian, believes in God; considers all men his brothers; believes that sinners go to hell; and who prays five times a day, could hardly be a senseless killer that a terrorist ought to be.  Confronted with world terrorism, I guess we just have to face the fact that if there are mad Christians, there are also mad Muslims.

    The Past and the Future

                Some would say that the basic difference between the past and the future is in their relation to the present time.  While past would refer to the period before the present time, the future means after the present time.  Technically, anything that happened a second or even a millisecond ago could be considered as a past experience, whereas an event about to occur a second or a millisecond from now, belongs to the future.  Customarily, however, we measure them by day.  Yesterday was past, today is present, and tomorrow is the future.  In other words, the past has already happened while the future is only about to occur.

    However, what could be more valuable for us whenever we reflect on these concepts is their relation with each other.  The past, they say, is history, but it is nonetheless essential because of the lessons that it could give us.  The cliché history never repeats itself should not always be allowed to bear itself out nor should be anticipated passively.  Obviously, it would be best for us if any past experience that had benefited us greatly happens again, or is replicated through our own efforts.  On the other hand, past occurrences which had caused us defeat, ignominy, and grief, should not be immediately cast aside without learning from them.  This way we can guarantee that we do not repeat past mistakes.  The past, therefore, aside from being a great teacher, is regarded with both gratitude and disapproval.

    While the past is a known entity, the future remains a mystery.  No seer can tell what the future holds.  We can only prepare ourselves with the necessary training and education and hope that the past has fortified us enough to face the uncertainties of the future.  If people regard the past with gratitude and disapproval, everybody thinks about the future with dread.  A friend of mine once said that if they can be made to talk, the past might perhaps say: “See?”  The future, on the other hand, is expected to warn:  “Wait and see.”


    Why do married couples differ in their attitudes toward children?  For some, married life is not perfect without children.  They claim that one of the reasons they got married, in the first place, was because they want to have children of their own.  According to this type of couples, having children and rearing them to be responsible members of society is the high point of their life together.  For some, however, children are an encumbrance that would restrict their personal and professional growth.  They argue that having children would keep them from becoming fruitful members of society because their productive life would be spent on children instead.

    I have a cousin who got married a couple of years ago.  When she became pregnant after three months of marriage, she became a changed woman all of a sudden.  Two months pregnant and all she could talk about was what toys she would buy, how she would arrange the baby’s room, what name to give the baby.  She even started to make house rules for her husband to observe for when the baby finally came.  It was as if my cousin was transformed from a dutiful wife to an imposing commander of marines.  Now that their baby is already a healthy one-year-old girl, my cousin Susan is no longer a marine commander but a prospective mother of a college dean with a doctorate in economics.  The joy of motherhood, though, is very evident even as she often complains of lack of sleep and talks about how she misses office work.

    Meanwhile, a childhood friend, Tenny, who got married a year before Susan did, is in a seventh heaven of her own.  When I visited with her, she was full of news about her job, her husband’s promotion, and the summers that they have been spending traveling.  To be fair with her, she appeared undoubtedly happy.  However, I didn’t see Susan’s pride of motherhood and her far-away look of contentment whenever she would talk about her baby girl Susannah.  To me, Tenny appeared to be living in the present, whereas Susan is looking to the future.

    Different persons with different outlooks in life find happiness doing different things.  Susan and Tenny might not agree on some things, but they are both happy in their own worlds.


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