WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Lessons from Oakwood

The notes were to accompany a Power Point presentation that showed much elaborate detail, indicating that the one who made it had all the time in his hands to turn out works of art given the medium available. Come to think of it, the notes read like they were made by someone who had a lot of time in his hands to mentally rehearse again and again and again key points for emphasis. Here be his dragons.

Purists might burn me at the stake, but I found the Combat English very charming and, yes, appropriate. Language is infinitely generative. It allows the user to be creative in shaping and stringing together the symbols for concepts that are within his experience. I tell my daughters and my students to recognize grammar rules, but when it comes to really understanding people, my bias is to allow them to use language as an instrument, to fashion it in their own peculiar ways in order to convey the meaning they intend.

That piece was written by a man who for a time fought for sanity in the face of his world going mad. His experience could have broken a lesser man, but his writings revealed how he doggedly held on to an inner moral compass. At the end of the storm, he comes out soul-battered but whole and able to face himself in the mirror.

My training is for understanding how the mind works in making coherent sense of experience. I am happiest when I could follow the mindstream, and never mind if I have to go over the same ground again and again. That's just the point to making sense. People keep recycling the information until, like the action of a centrifuge, the pieces fall into place. And then they are at peace.  

Piaget called it accommodation. Kohler termed it perceptual reorganization. Whatever you call it, it's a product of information rehearsal.

So a psychologist would be the last to mind that the notes were redundant in places. But, man, this is a major comment on our national experience and people deserve to hear it. I could condense this for someone more used to the information-as-bullets age. Distill the essence and tighten the organization.

In other words, do a major slash and burn. Retain the integrity of Combat English, but tame it somewhat to be comprehensible to a wider audience. My fingers were itching to get at it.

Ah, the power of texting. It allowed me after some days to secure from the author who is in detention his permission to edit the notes. I was informed that he welcomes the opportunity for his words to be published where it could reach its target audience – junior officers who bear in their hearts the revolutionary fervor to effect a change in the prevailing oppressive conditions in society and in the AFP.

Ten hours and six coffee-and-doughnuts break later, the article is down to six pages.

Not to preempt its impact when it does get published, but here's a teaser on the piece.

The officers and men of the AFP typically begin their career in the service as junior troops in the battlefront. Upon entry into the service, they carry with them the revolutionary fervor, the ideals, principles, and patriotism, as well as the desire for their service to contribute to the realization of noble aspirations for the country and its people.

The tours of duty in the frontlines expose the soldiers firsthand to the ill effects of this nation's problems, seen in the lives of the ordinary people and in the experience of the common soldiers. Amid the people's unabated suffering and the irrational practices in the AFP that needlessly sacrifice worthy men in the frontlines, the soldiers' revolutionary fervor gains strength and the quest for a desirable change becomes imperative.  

However, soldiers must be prudent and cautious in channeling their energy and efforts as they take action to initiate genuine revolution. Whatever actions soldiers take, the consequences have the potential to be national in scope and would act like a magnet to political forces out to take advantage of the soldiers' noble intention.
(Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan's column for MindaViews, the opinion
section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology,
Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University
where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to
[email protected]. "Send at the risk of a reply," she says.)

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