PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Thursday, September 01, 2011

 

Bouncing back from the pits

An article in the paper caught my attention last Sunday in the Philippine Daily Inquirer because it focuses on the industry I work in, the business process outsourcing industry also known as BPO. I felt glad that someone would pay attention to the subject, knowing how rarely media take it up. Little did I know it would also get me distressed and disheartened.

Authored by an academic, Regina Hechanova, the article reveals the findings from an Ateneo de Manila University study on the BPO sector, which I’ve long held to be true because they are realities –- appalling ones -- I breathe in and out every single day.

What are these truths? That the employer-employee relationship in the BPO industry is often purely transactional. That there is zero loyalty from the employee because the employee doesn’t feel he has a stake in the business. He feels he is there only to be used and to use. The employee sees no reason to be loyal because there is no future in the business; there are no pensions and long-term benefit plans for employees. It is an industry that is beset with too much uncertainty in the first place, owing to the globalized nature of the business.

Before I lapsed again into a depression, I caught myself first by observing how I felt after reading that article, and what I told myself. Well, I said, How true, and how sad. How did I ever get myself here? I used to have a very promising future, with seemingly unlimited possibilities? Why did I get stuck in this sector? What are my chances of jumping ship now that I’m too old for a restart, with the former possibilities seemingly exhausted? Not to look down on other jobs, but with the gifts I was given, surely there was something better for me?

I knew I was at it again –- me and my old temptations to get upset, to be worried sick -- when the top two songs playing in my mind were two Tagalog songs I largely ignored in my youth (because Tagalog songs then were considered cheap): Dito Ba (popularized by Kuh Ledesma) and Kapalaran (popularized by Rico Puno).

Dito ba/O dito ba?/Dito ba/ang dapat kong kalagyan/sa isang sulok kong hiram/sa ilalim ng araw?

Bakit ba ganyan/ang buhay ng tao? Mayrong mayaman, may api sa mundo/Kapalaran/kung hanapin/di matagpuan/At kung minsan/lumalapit/ng di mo alam.

I’ve been here before, and I always attribute such negativities to the devil or the evil in me. I had to ask myself yet again why I had to feel so down, and thankfully the answer came quite easily this time: Because I fear for myself in the future. Because I am afraid of getting old alone and penniless. Because I am scared of ever becoming dependent, a humiliating burden to somebody, even to a family member (since most likely my siblings will each have their own family). Because I am afraid of ending up a failure, accomplishing nothing despite my earlier achievements and promise showed. Because I am afraid to be looked down upon as a shame.

Apart from the usual fear of not-looking-good, however, is the sadness, which I deemed valid or not unreasonable and can only address trustfully to God: Why is this industry I found myself working in for years so loveless? How can it survive being so... utilitarian? Is that the nature of all business enterprises? I wonder. Should the world of work be a world of heartless toil in order to be productive? Should work be Adam’s punishment all over again?

But I know that the Catholic theology on work is not like that at all. There is caritas in veritate. Besides, I have ceased seeing myself as a victim of an oppressive system (for even if it were so, I still have a choice to rejoice and be at peace), but my resolve failed me this time. I saw the BPO industry as indeed being unjust to me and my fellow coworkers. And we were expected to be thankful we had a job at all.

What I did next to avoid falling as before was to sort out what I could control from what I could not. The BPO industry is certainly beyond my control so I should leave the monster at its game, hoping it won't self-destruct.

Since I don’t believe in government interference anymore unless a clear crime is committed, I also decide to quit blaming government. I tend to lay the blame on me first, but also I recognize my limitations and weaknesses.

Lastly, since God allowed everything, He must have willed it for a reason, and that reason is for my own good. Maybe I was put in a place to humble me because I was too prideful and ambitious, viewing job titles and positions as means to service my ego, my disordered needs to aggrandize myself? Maybe I, in fact, need this reversal of fortune so I won’t be too proud of myself in case things happened in my favor?

I should forgive everything, everyone, then, and I should forgive foremost myself. I should instead entrust my future to God. I’m not even sure I’ll survive the next day, so why bother worrying? (I sure pray though that I will still live for a long time more). I will always be judged negatively anyway, so why bother with what people will say?

Also, maybe certain doors have been closed because I was being told to look to other doors, as the cliché goes?

If there is someone who ought NOT to be at peace or be distressed, it is the purveyors of injustice and oppression in this world. They are friends not with God but with the “reigning prince of this world.”

I should instead choose to trust that God loves me so much just like the rest of His children whom He has bestowed with favors and graces they too didn’t deserve. I pray for that portion that I didn’t even have to work for, that portion reserved for mine alone, that best fits just for me that I don’t even have to look at what others got. I choose to trust that, to borrow a quote, “If God put me to it, He will put me through it.” ...My fighting words for a very uncertain future in a hyperviolent world that inflicts its cruelty to men in many quiet, hidden ways.

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