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Dyan Geleen B.

Tuble ABMC-Irreg Schedule: WF, 7:30-9:00

October 1, 2012 Ms. El Mithra Dela Cruz Integrative Paper Become Devoid to Gain Totality

During the start of the semester, I remember my professor saying I invite you to empty your cup so that it may be filled. But for someone like me, gradeconscious-structuralist-book-bound-student, I find it hard to empty my cup. For me, it is my armor; my talisman. But then I realized that sometimes, I should loosen up, listen to the silence, and empty the cup that I am holding on. I realized that sometimes, we should become devoid so that we can gain totality. Based on my experience, I can say that learning Philosophy of the human person is a big bowl of fruit salad. It is a mix of everything. It deconstructs everything that I know and everything that I believed to be right before. From the importance of questioning and reflecting, to responsibility, to freedom, to genuine dialogue, to love. And to start this philosophical journey, I finally decided to empty my cup and let it be filled again with new thoughts and ideas. The topics we discussed may sound very discrete to one another, but in Philosophy, they are connected. In life, everything is interconnected. We are all part of the web. Everything in the universe is interconnected, from the stars that we look up to at night, to the children that we see on streets, everything is related. When I was younger, my father always told me to look at the children begging on the streets. They are just my age but unlike me, they live in the barest of necessity. But then my father reminded me that I am not different to them at all. We live under the same sky, we stare and wish at the same stars every night, and most of all they have dreams like me. It is just now that I realized how my father is very philosophical and idealistic. He always leave me with something to think about. When I was young,

I thought that he does it to torture my brain thinking about global warming, to the importance of education, to why many people are experiencing poverty. But now I know the reasonhe wants me to learn how to reflect because reflecting opens all possibilities and opportunities to know yourself, to assess yourself, to understand the real essence of your life. They said that philosophical journey starts with questioning, searching for meaning and discovering who you really are. After that enters liberation. It is a release of freedom from ignorance; it is a freedom from blind adherence to what is present; and lastly, it is a revolt rising from what is given or conditioned by the society. After liberation is now the revolutionary event of searching for meaning. Personhood comes in place. But should that end like that? The answer is NO. When you are looking for a very important object, it is not enough to just know how it looks like, what it is used for, when and where was it used for the last time. After knowing these details your next move should be searching for that object. And when you found it, you should drive yourself not to lose it again, think of ways to protect it, and let others know how you found it because maybe they are experiencing same problem as yours. Just like reflecting, it should not end upon knowing yourself, knowing your weaknesses and capabilities. There should be a transcendence; you should go beyond yourself. Reflection is merely just the start and through it, we are directed to something more powerful, something more meaningfulgiving ourselves to others. Now, the question is how can we give ourselves to others? Or can we really give ourselves to others? Let me discuss this through the light of Levinas disinterested responsibility and Kavanaughs human freedom. Before we answer the question how, we first need to know whywhy do we have to give ourselves to others? Levinas said that the approach to the face is the most basic mode of responsibility. The face that he is talking about is not

the physical attributes of a person. Seeing the face is seeing beyond what our eyes can see. That face is not in front of us but above us. It is the face of other that asks us not to help him or her die alone. Levinas Face-to-face relation is like Husserls epoche. We have to set aside our biases and prejudices for us to see the real experience; for us to see the face of other. But the difference is that in Husserls argument, according to Levinas, lacks intersubjectivity. Yes, we see others like us, the same as us, have the same body as us, acts like us, and so on and so forth but the face of others impact us like any other object in this world. The other person addresses us. Since we know that we are like the other, that other does not even have to utter a word to make us feel that he/she needs us. In that case, knowing that the Other needs us, we should give ourselves to them. Responsibility is always there, it is always present, and it is there even before we begin to think about it. We have to give ourselves because we have been in relation with the other; because we have seen their face. Now, back to the question howhow can we give ourselves to the others? It is through freedom. According to Kavanaugh, Mans meaning is not only to possess himself freely. Since he is other-directed, his identity is not fully achieved until, having possessed himself, he gives himself to the other.

Because of questioning, liberation, and personhood, we were able to understand who we really are and we are able to know more about ourselves. And we could not have done it all without freedom. With the knowledge of myself and my potentiality, I could possess myself. And through self-possession, I could still be the master of myself; a wise master who knows how to decide for the good because she knows herself and she knows the factors that will effect her decisions.

Yet, freedom does not end there. It is not merely about self-possession or being the master of my own self. Kavanaugh said that our meaning is not only to possess ourselves. Like what we discussed with Levinas, there is the face of the other. And through freedom, we are carried to the world of the other. This requires openness, which is a hard thing to do because we can choose to remain closed. But according to Kavanaugh, our life has no meaning if we do not open ourselves to the world of other. It is not enough that we possess ourselves. What completes us is by possessing ourselves, we give it to other. The essence of our existence is not just to know that we exist or just to know that others also exist. It is giving ourselves, giving all of us. And through giving, we will find real meaning and fulfillment; something that we get by our freedom to possess ourselves and giving it away for the others.

However, giving yourself to other is not just a matter of responsibility. It is also important to create a meaningful and fruitful relationship. As I said earlier, there should always be transcendencethat the Other would not be considered as other anymore. In this case, I think Levinas term other would be inappropriate because in a meaningful relationship, that other would be a part of your life; a part of you. We could transcend to this level of relationship through a genuine dialogue. As we enter a genuine dialogue, we should always be in our true selves. We should never look at person as objects and we should not reduce that person as an instrument. We should unfold our self to that person and not be influenced by the need to impress other people because pretending will always be an obstacle to genuine dialogue. It creates a dynamic of lies, complications, and impositions. However, in our Service Learning Activity (SLA), I realized that genuine dialogue is more important to be experienced than to be heard. It is achieved by something more than our senses. It is achieved in our spirit and that only happen

when we show who we really are; when we unfold ourselves to others. We should not be influenced by the desire to be understood by another but instead, we should understand them. As I was learning Philosophy, my mind opened to a bigger reality. I realized that these girls from Tahanan Sta. Luisa, just like all the other girls in the world, have dreams. And it is our responsibility to make them realize, that despite of their difficult past, they still have the ability to dream and the perseverance to fulfill it. What matters now is fulfilling those dreams, making sure that they would not end up being muted and abused forever, or the other way around. We can no longer do anything to the people who abused and exploited them, but we could do something to make them realize that their dreams are not far from being possible. I will never forget the girls of Tahanan Sta. Luisa because they are with me as I journey to knowing the real essence of my life. At first I thought that this SLA would just be like our NSTP and Lay Apostolate but then I realized that it is not because in our SLA, we get to know ourselves, our potentialities, and our responsibilities. Here, we were able to see the world with new eyes. We were able to face reality with hope that in our small act of helping, listening, and understanding the girls, we were able to start a culture of change. As I close this integrative paper, I want to say that I am so happy that I tried to empty my cup. Now, I find it very fulfilling. I know that this cup is still far from spilling but it made me realize that the cup that I was holding before, the cup that I do not want to let go before was not even half-full but rather half-empty. I have never felt this kind of fulfillment in my entire life. I was able not just to transcend but to transform into a better person.