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of self-discipline and selflessness


This morning as I made my way home a congested line of MRT passengers queued from both entrances of the MRT station (North Edsa Ave) greeted me; a normal scenario during weekday mornings. As a frequent passenger going home from work I was already accustomed to the string of people I’m stuffing myself into.

I gingerly made my way before the last person in the line which was a couple of miles from the station entrance. I saw many passengers doing the same thing. And the line that I’m in became a very long queue with giddy commuters adding up to the growing pile, trying to make it early for work or any planned transaction. I stood there for 5 minutes max unmoving while the others were tsk tsk-ing and complaining, a muffled expletive steaming off from behind me.

While busying myself with passing thoughts an irritated looking woman asked the person in front of me if the line leads to the MRT station. The guy responded with a nod and the lady made her way to the back of the line.

Out of nowhere an aging man came and positioned himself to what seemed to be a gap in the queue. An angry voice so loud that I thought the source was behind me exclaimed to the man to fall in line. It was the woman and she was infuriated. The man half-heartedly justified his action and went to the other line adjacent to ours murmuring defensive remarks.

After a while the line started moving. Being accustomed with the bone-crushing routine, I prepared myself for what seemed to be an ordeal of some sort as the throng of people made its way to the MRT station (with me in it).

I took my semi-tattered MRT card and made my way inside the waiting area (it took me another 5 minutes). I found a short queue a few meters from the entrance and inched myself closer to it. Feeling a bit comfortable I waited patiently for the next train which arrived a couple of minutes later.

Then the incident happened again. A man, younger this time inserted himself in the line where I’m in. This time the people behind him started asking the man to fall in line properly. I heard “Mga Pilipino talaga mga mandaraya!” (Filipinos love to take advantage of others) from an elderly woman who was supposed to be the one next to me. The man who I thought felt guilty defensively explained something I didn’t hear. He seemed pretty unaffected as we entered the train.

The remark of the old lady baffled me. What the man did reaffirmed her view regarding most Filipinos: We lack self-discipline. It’s as if falling in line is very difficult that we want to take the easy way. It is a sad reality and I have experienced the same things many times. It irks me how some people can get away with it like nothing happened, using every possible circumstance to their advantage.

Another experience I cannot easily forget. 

One time inside the MRT a professional looking man takes out a candy, rips its foil wrapper, and throws it instantly. He seems oblivious to the fact that he is in a public place and a public mode of transportation in that case.  I was fighting my nerves not to pick the candy wrapper and shove it down his throat. It was such an intolerable act of lack of discipline. As I look at the culprit I could not help but wonder how many candy wrappers this man had ‘unconsciously’ thrown. And I sigh-ed a few sighs of bereavement for the man’s irresponsible action.

At school we are taught values to make us better persons. We learned the value of falling in line and waiting for our turn. We also learned not to litter trashes everywhere and throw them in the trashcans. I believe it is self-discipline that cements these values as we grow up making it a part of our individual lifestyle.

Discipline is a very big word. It comes also with a responsibility of self-restraint with a cause. It is a simple principle that many tend to forget. We discipline ourselves to stay fit. We restrain ourselves from eating foods to prevent hospitalisation. We tend to veer away from splurging because we are on a tight budget. All of these are manifestations of self-discipline.  But as an observation it seems that self-discipline for others is a feat too difficult to achieve.

We humans are selfish in nature. The moment our mothers conceived us we have always wanted the attention and love. It has always been ‘US’ in the beginning. “Give me the feeding bottle I’m hungry”, “Clean my used diaper because it’s already filthy” were some of the things we could’ve spoken if we were able to speak right after we’re born.

But now that we’ve reached a certain age where being selfless is one of the virtues expected of us, we can already shrug the self-centeredness and be mature by starting to have the mentality of being disciplined not only for our own advantage but also for others’ gain.

With these in mind we can apply these principles in our daily lives making us one of the contributors in making this world a better place to live.

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