Why, How Did This Happen?

"What are your thoughts on the recent incident in Atimonan, Quezon, where 13 people were killed?"

This is the question friends and associates have been asking me lately. It seems they value what a local government official has to say about a gruesome incident that took place in a province within the same region as Rizal.

My usual answer: "I don't know" and "I have nothing to say."

"How come?" they would insist that I give my view.

"It's because I am still in shock," I would answer. That answer is an honest one and probably reflects the current mental state of the general public in connection with that incident.

My many years in public service have taught me that the public psyche goes through several stages as the people confront the reality of a significant event as frightening as that which took place in Atimonan.

Stage 1: Shock

Stage 2: Puzzlement

Stage 3: Interpretation

Stage 4: Outrage

Stage 5: Resolution.

Shock is the initial numbness of the mind and emotions which happens as we initially face the reality of such an incident. Shock is a survival instinct. We initially ward off the pain but shutting off our faculties that process that feeling.

As we slowly move out of the shock, we enter into a state of bewilderment. We are puzzled by what just took place. We ask, "What happened?" Slowly, we try to make sense out of the event that unfolded before our eyes, directly or vicariously through media reports.

Then, as we exit the puzzlement stage, we begin to interpret the event. We put meaning into what just happened. We identify the players and ascribe motives to them. We try to put two and two together. We try to put sense... even when there is none.

And, realizing that the incident which resulted in the death of many hardly made any sense, we graduate into anger. We feel the outrage welling up within us. That is when we join others in a collective outburst.

Finally, we try to resolve the issue and look for more positive ways to channel our outrage. We either accept the reality that events like the killings in Atimonan are a fact of life which we cannot change and, therefore, must be resigned to it... or we decide to do something about it.

We went through the same process when we were confronted by the deaths of several innocent children at the start of this year caused by stray bullets fired by trigger-happy hooligans. We were shocked, and then puzzled by the cruelty and uselessness of these deaths. Then, the anger and the collective outrage.

We interpreted these deaths as having been caused by guns placed in the wrong hands. We attempted to resolve the issue by looking at the possibility of a total ban on guns in the hands of civilians. The President nixed the idea, and it looks like he has a point.

After all, those who fired the guns that caused the 13 deaths in Atimonan had full authority to carry guns and even to fire them. They were not civilians. The bullets they pumped into the bodies of the 13 fatalities were not stray; they were aimed, were on target and looked like they were intended not to maim but to end life.

Several national officials have been doing a good job helping us interpret what happened in that lonely stretch of a Southern Tagalog highway. The event is now being interpreted as an "ambush," "rubout," or even as a "summary execution."

The problem with the interpretation of the event we hear at present merely answers the question "what happened."

In the aftermath of our collective bewilderment, what we want answered is the question "why did this happen?"

The other question is, "how could this happen?"

Sometimes, the absence of a clear answer merely prolongs our collective outrage.

Unless we accept as reality the fact that our questions may never find a clear answer.

For feedback, please email it to provinceofrizal@yahoo.com or send it to #1 Mt. Cameron St., Fairmount Subdivision, Bgy. Dela Paz, Antipolo, Rizal

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires
    Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires

    Eleven Filipinos are included in Forbes’ 2015 list of richest people in the world. Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. continues to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines. The 90-year-old SM supermalls, banking and property tycoon ranked 73rd among the world’s richest with an increased net worth of $14.2 billion from $11.4 billion last year. Sy’s net worth was attributed to the continued growth of his SM Investments Corp. and his more recent venture, the City of Dreams Manila resort and …

  • Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit
    Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit

    Cavite Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla wept and embraced his father as he apologized for the “accidental” shooting incident in their Ayala Alabang residence, the family’s spokesman said yesterday. Lawyer Raymund Fortun came out of the private room at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City to speak to reporters, who were barred from entering the hospital compound during the visit of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. …

  • Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media
    Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media

    By Jane Wardell and Beawiharta SYDNEY/DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were removed from a prison in Bali on Wednesday to be taken to an Indonesian island where they will be shot by firing squad, Australian media reported. The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions amid repeated pleas of mercy for the pair from Australia and thrown a spotlight on Indonesia's increasing use of the death …

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines
    US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the American billionaire for his high-tech mission that apparently succeeded after so many failed search attempts by others. Allen posted photos and video online of parts of what he said was the …

  • Another source of SAF execution video identified
    Another source of SAF execution video identified

    The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is still tracing the source of the video showing one of the wounded police commandos being finished off by Muslim rebels during the encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. A source from the Department of Justice (DOJ) said they have identified two persons who first uploaded the video that went viral over social networking sites. The supposed source of the video was elusive and claimed that somebody just placed it on an external drive. The …

  • Pacquiao big hit so far in Vegas sports books vs Mayweather

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Manny Pacquiao has always believed he can do what 47 other fighters before him have failed to do — beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the ring. …

  • N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills
    N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills

    North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational. The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a concerted campaign of sabre-rattling. "If there is a particularly sharp escalation, we could see the …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options