A Glimmer in the Dark

Numerous values and principles have been taught to me in my years of stay in the Ateneo from Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam to Magis. But one instilled value that stood out to me after going through one of the many philosophy classes with Dr. Leo would be Ateneo’s seeking to train men and women-for-others.

Back then, I would not dwell much on this value just like majority of the people nowadays. One reason for this would be the urbanized world we live in. Everything in the present is so fast paced that people have no choice but to catch up just to survive. This has caused majority to strive for themselves, despite the harsh consequences that may befall to the other. With this, one might say that the world is indeed crumbling apart as the people living in it have begun to lose compassion. What changed this mechanical thinking of mine would trail back to Dr. Leo’s discussion about the philosopher Levinas.

Levinas puts the entirety of western philosophy into question. He believed that the important question to ask is not “Who am I?” because it is very ego logical as it only deals with the I. He also believed it is not about the question of ontology. For what good is philosophy if it just remains in one’s head? Philosophy needs to be translated by ethics to do something. Thus Levinas believed that the question to be asked instead is “What must I do for the other?”.

As we enter into the world, we are already social and ethical beings. Ethics is inherent within all people as all of us are products of others’ good deeds and actions. It is the modernized world that blinds all people to the ethics and compassion within them. That is why one must de-center themselves and get out of their daily monologue. By doing this, they get to pay attention to others in order to respond to them with utmost compassion. Furthermore, they should get down from their pedestal. Getting down allows them to be on the base for a short while to recognize others and become a support for them. These methods allow them to not think about themselves and their individual goals. As it is said, to be a nobility of excellence requires service to others.

 A class discussion of Levinas changed my way of thinking in just a span of an hour. This made me realize that there is hope for the world after all. This mechanized world of ours has a glimmer of light despite all the darkness we create. This awakening realization may just start with one person but with enough perseverance it can cause a ripple effect. This involves doing little good deeds for others daily such as acknowledging your server in the restaurant, thanking the guard who opened the door for you, or offering your food to a child in need. These little deeds will place itself into the bigger picture in our world. Thus in no time, our world will begin to light up as it used to before.

Sean Ng


PH 101 JTA-A


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