A Whole New World–Love Wins
When I was in my addiction I couldn’t travel more than a few miles without feeling the need to get a fix. Now, I can travel miles away. With every step I take forward I move further and further away from the old me. I start to develop a new me by the process of recovery and it grants me new freedoms.
This summer I had the opportunity to spend my entire time living in the Philippines. It was quite an eye opening experience compared to being a moderate to upper-classed privileged white male. The culture, the people, the places, all of it was different. Now on my plane back home I don’t think I will ever look at America the same way.
I had a few moments over in the Philippines with my fiancé where we would take walks down boroughs and come across numerous situations. There would be broken down, ratty old building complexes. They would be unoccupied (be permanent residence) and a place for giving youth to gather. They wouldn’t be gathering for deviant or illegal activities though. The purpose of this gather was that it was an open public place to play cards. They weren’t even gambling, it was all for two reasons: “Love and fun.”
In America I can remember as a youth when I came across an abandoned warehouse my friends and I would smoke cigarettes and drink booze while breaking windows. We found any reason to vandalize and have our illegal freedoms from parenting and policy.
In the Philippines there was quite an opposite story. These youth didn’t have parents to do the looking out for them. In fact, the youth were meant and brought up to look out for their elder. In my newfound family the brother—who is caring and generous—provides for the younger siblings and his loving parents.
In these gatherings there wouldn’t be a time or place to do something illegal. If I have learned one common term lately it would be that “Love wins.” This term can be applied to this situation, too.
The morals and value system in the Philippines as directed by my new family were guided by respect. It wasn’t about “what can we gain?” or “what thing do I need next?” Because when first world countries have this mindset there is a sense of, “Once I’ve run out of things that fill the pleasure receptors… what next?” This situation often leads our youth—especially the privileged—to indulging in detrimental activities. These types of activities include: Underage sex, smoking, drinking, drugging, among other deviant activities.
The mindset in a third world country like the Philippines—that I lived in and embraced the culture—was that of one thing: “We have each other, and that is all we need because it’s all we have.” There was a mentality in the Philippines with more concern on paying lot rent or how to find pesos to buy enough groceries for one week.
Yes it’s true, jobs are scarce in the Philippines as not everyone has one, but one thing was common love still conquered all. The mindset was apparent. The Filipino culture wasn’t grown up on a television as a babysitter or overweight families and leftover food. The Filipino culture was that of this: “All we have is each other, all we have is love. There is no room to find or try to find more.” In this mindset there has been a common saying (as the Filipino’s bought our shirts up): They simply stay “High on Life.” Once again love conquers all.
This type of cultural exploration can lead us to wonder why is America such an addictive culture? WE can further examine the types of boundaries Americans and first world countries put into place compared to third world countries.
The Philippines may be “underdeveloped” compared to American technology, but the lifestyle philosophy is unparalleled to a first world country. First world countries may have a lot of strides to go to get to the state of equality and acceptance that a third world country has, and this can simply be because first world countries have too much.
This begs the fact that are first world countries breeding places for imaginative miseries? Do first world countries lead and perpetuate things like addictions and deviant behaviors just because we are unsatisfied after the reward system has created a maximum overload?
Third world countries still have addictions and I won’t say they don’t. Third world countries also have addictions for the polar opposite reasons compared to an America. When you’re born into nothing you have nothing to expect, like the Philippines, you simply have nothing to expect but the bare essentials and most of that is consumed by love. But when you are born into a society that is materialized into giving and wanting more, creating that need to fill a void that is unexplainable why do we not say that Capitalism is more greedy and addictive than a third world country.
From my personal observations of an extensive live in at a Filipino residence the reasons addiction is used in a third world country is on a completely different world than a first world country.
Could cultural examinations be the next key step to fighting addictions in the U.S. and other countries where overdosing youth are such a huge problem? Cultures steal ideas from each other all the time. So I say instead of looking down upon a third world country and shunning them for what they don’t have, we should look up to them for what they gain and give themselves. They give themselves an abundance of love, open mindedness, and acceptance to life. Isn’t this the key to recovery most say anyways? So who is to say that one day first world countries won’t be adopting cultural viewpoints from third world countries? Who is to say first world countries will want to help third world countries develop as much as we need a third world country to teach us a few basic things to the key we call life, too?
The world is about acceptance and understanding. I think to understand our own problems we must start to understand how people will less, survive with so much more. There is a lot to be learned from what we call third world countries, as we as a first world nation aren’t as developed as we thought we are, especially with the rise in addiction of our youth and a growing overdosing problem that could be solved by a few simplistic cultural adaptions.
Living in the Philippines was the best thing that ever happened to me. You read about these types of cultures in books but you don’t truly know what it’s like until you live it. I won’t come back to America with the same mindset and I’m eternally grateful for it. It humbled me and I’m in love with my new mindset, because love truly, really, honestly does win!
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