Because I Care ~ FOR SALE
IT MIGHT BE THE OLDEST
profession in the world, but few people would consider
it honorable, and even the most-liberal people would
probably have some reservations if their sisters or
daughters were to announce their intention to ply
the trade, especially in this time of AIDS. However,
before we open our mouths to condemn, we should realize
there are many kinds of prostitution, and not just
the sex-for-sale kind. We can prostitute— degrade
or sell— ourselves in a variety of ways. It
is said that every man has his price and can be bought,
and though there must be some incorruptible people,
they are probably so rare that, for the sake of our
purpose here, we may consider this statement to be
For most of us, how long would our principles
(supposing we have any) and indignation stand up and
hold out before we surrender to one or some of the
many forms of pressure that may be brought to bear
upon us— poverty, hunger, sickness, fear, greed,
envy, desire for fame and power, and so on? Who would
dare say he would never succumb?
Most of us have role-models, especially
when we are young. Unsure of ourselves in our tender
and formative years, or not yet having found our own
minds and a direction in life (which, sadly, some
never do), we tend to hang onto, identify with, emulate,
and follow people we admire and take as our ideals—
people like parents, singers, TV-and-screen personalities,
sportsmen, and so on. I was once in this position
myself, and some of my idols were The Beatles, The
Moody Blues, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan, who
inspired me with their words, and contributed a lot
to my own journey through life. They were— and
I liked them for this as well as for their music—
rebels against authority and spokesmen for their generation.
They said things to and for me then that I could not
say for myself at the time; of course, I was also
caught up in fashion and the ‘counter-culture’;
it is hard to go against the current when we are young,
even if we want to, which I didn’t.
As with so many others of my generation,
their influence upon me was considerable, not just
in the area of rebellion against authority—
(which is a normal part of growing up, of bursting
the bonds of parental protection and guidance, and
striking out on one’s own. Sadly, rebellion
at this stage is often blind, destructive and unguided
by intelligence; thus, its force is soon wasted and
spent)— but also in helping me discover the
spiritual dimension of life, which now, as I look
back, seems to have been near the surface, awaiting
something to trigger it off. The Beatles’ Sergeant
Pepper’s album, widely regarded as a revolution
in itself, included a song called Within You, Without
You, the words of which I wish to present here, as
they had such an impact on me, and for those who might
never have known them:
"We were talking
About the space between us all,
And the people
Who hide themselves
Behind a wall of illusion,
Never glimpse the Truth,
Then it’s far too late,
When they pass away.
We were talking
About the love we all could share,
When we find it,
To try our best to hold it there;
With our love, with our love
We could save the world,
If they only knew.
Try to realize it’s
all within you,
No-one else can make you change;
And to see you’re really only very small,
And life goes on within you and without you.
We were talking
About the love that’s gone so cold,
And the people
Who gain the world and lose their soul,
They don’t know,
They can’t see;
Are you one of them?
When you’ve seen beyond
Then you may find
Peace of mind
Is waiting there;
And the time will come
When you see we’re all One,
And life flows on within you and without you.
Another song by The Beatles, released in 1968, was
The Inner Light, which used words from the Tao Te
Without going out of your
You can know all things on Earth;
Without looking out of your window,
You can know the ways of Heaven.
The farther one travels,
The less one will know.
The Hippy movement that came into being towards the
end of the ‘Sixties, with its ideals of love,
peace and sharing, was short-lived, probably because
so many phony people jumped on the bandwagon and corrupted
it; but it was a significant milestone, nevertheless.
Some people retained the ideals they found in those
days, and the Green Movement has grown out of it;
it hasn’t simply disappeared and ceased to exist.
Most ‘hippies,’ however, changed like
chameleons, and adopted other fashions; many of today’s
‘yuppies’ were previously hippies, though
they might deny it now. (And who did Bill Clinton
think he was kidding when he admitted smoking marijuana
during his university days, but claimed he did not
inhale it? Next he'll be claiming that his wife became
pregnant by ’immaculate conception,’ without
his help! Who gives a damn if he did smoke marijuana
before, as long as he doesn’t smoke it now?
It’s a different thing, however, to tell transparent
lies about it).
In the ‘60’s, there was a song
which satirized the hypocrisy of singer-musicians,
some of the words of which went:
The folk-singer came from America
To sing in the Albert Hall;
He sang his songs of protest,
And fairer shares for all;
How the rich were much too rich,
And the poor too poor by far;
Then he drove back to his penthouse
In his brand-new Rolls-Royce car.
What a world! What a place!
Ain’t you glad you’re a member of the
This was clearly about Bob Dylan, the undisputed leader
of ‘the Protest Movement’ that began in
the US and spread all over the Western world. His
most well-known song, Blowin’ in the Wind, was
one of the anthems of the anti-Vietnam-War movement.
He often sang of the poor and underprivileged and
the injustice in society, but in the end was swallowed
up by the lucre he generated. It is hard not to feel
cynical about things like this. And even the rock-concerts
that have been staged in recent years to raise money
for charity: it is a simple matter for singers and
musicians to perform for an hour or so, doing something—
singing and making music— that really, is more
play and pleasure than work; although many people
do benefit from their efforts, they themselves lose
nothing and become no poorer thereby.
Is it a sign of becoming old that I am thinking
this way, and am no longer interested in or inspired
by such people, who do not mean what they say or sing?
If so, I have no regrets about being no longer young;
I have found something better to compensate me for
I was in the Bataan Refugee Camp in Philippines
when I belatedly heard of the murder of John Lennon
in New York in 1980, and it came as a great shock
to me, as I had long admired him. This was the man
who wrote and sang:
Imagine no possessions:
I wonder if you can?
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man,
but who left assets totaling about $150 million.
And fellow-Beatle, Paul McCartney, at the time I wrote
this in ’91, was said to have a fortune of over
$700 million! Money in such amounts is obscene in
a world where millions of people are starving to death.
Why do we place such preposterous value on entertainers?
Surely, we have our priorities wrong!
At a party in Manila’s Malacañang
Palace before Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos were toppled
from power, their children sang the current hit-song
We are the World, obviously unaware of the meaning
of the words. How casually we open our mouths to speak!
It is common for celebrities to ‘star’
in commercials on TV, endorsing a multiplicity of
products; but are they convinced, one wonders, of
the quality or superiority of the things they promote,
or do they say what they say merely for the huge fees
they are paid therefore? Have they so little self-respect
and dignity that they can say anything for money?
Are they, like beggars, so in need that they willingly
discard their integrity? Or had they none to discard?
I’m reminded of the four British businessmen
who carried the cannibalistic mass-murderer Idi Amin
on their shoulders in a procession while he yet ruled
in Uganda. Did they really have no choice about this?
How will they ever explain to their grandchildren
why they were prepared to demean themselves so?
Of course, governments worldwide supply
examples of unscrupulous behavior, and if we are not
careful, we might find ourselves adopting their standards
in our personal lives. Trade is carried on with murderous
regimes in other countries, just to bring in more
revenue for the ‘pollies’ and government-officials
to waste and squander. Australia still trades with
Burma, for one current example, just as the Thai government,
for years, played host to one of the most brutal and
genocidal regimes in history, allowing its ports to
be used for the importation of arms for the Khmer
Rouge, and provided luxury accommodation, armed escorts,
and treatment for minor ailments in Bangkok’s
best hospital for the monster Pol Pot himself! Britain,
among other countries that produce arms, supplies
land-mines to whoever will pay; many amputees owe
their misfortunes to Britain’s greed! And why
does the US continue to insist that Iraq is still
hiding weapons of mass-destruction, when Iraq claims
otherwise? Because it supplied them in the first place,
and so knows what is there! Governments have no scruples
or sense of shame whatever!
If the world is like this, must it always
be so? While we must know how it is, must we be like
that ourselves? Is there no alternative? Of course
there is! We can regard corruption, hypocrisy, injustice
and so on as our teachers and learn from them what
not to do. It requires a certain amount of scorn for
the way of the masses, who do not, I am convinced,
know where they are going, but it is scorn based on
understanding and love of truth and real values, rather
than on conceit and a feeling of being better than
others. If we want our world to improve instead of
deteriorating further, we must take a stand.
To conclude: It should be possible to learn
something from everyone, without necessarily following
or even liking them. It is just as important to know
what is wrong as it is to know what is right.