(I am posting this because, in defiance of an earlier decision not to talk about the UAAP basketball finals, something does have to be said.)
There is a script that this year’s University Athletics Association of the Philippines men’s basketball finals has to follow, in order that the finals would be more exciting and profitable for all concerned. Ateneo has to win Game One (which they did), La Salle has to win Game Two (which they hope to do tomorrow), and it’ll all come down to a Game Three this Saturday. This is a script I know is in a lot of people’s minds, because it’s the most logical and reasonable thing to expect. After all, if you want a true rematch, you’ve got to play it to the end.
But isn’t there anything better to do than to rewrite the script? Can’t it go the way we want? Isn’t the true underdog story that of a team who beats the odds and every historical fact against it happening? (Ateneo has not won a two-games-in-a-row championship since 1988, and neither has it beaten La Salle in all its games in a season season.)
If you ask me, this year really is the comeback. It can be said that the team learned from both the lucky break Ateneo de Manila got in 2002 and from the years thereafter when we could not make the finals. This is a team that plays with passion but is not burdened (as my friend Mike always points out) with the emotionalism that clouded past teams, a large number of whom came from the prep school attached to the university.
So why not rewrite the script, defy expectations, and make it happen? It is possible. It always is.
And here’s another script: Because we don’t need humanism to advance in the world, progress in higher education comes from dumping unnecessary fields of study. European philosophy goes out the list, possibly literary criticism next, and so on. We can shut down departments of philosophy and history because they do stand in the way of progress, questioning our assumptions and forcing us to do needless and harmful thinking. We don’t need gadflies to stand in our path. So the mania for nursing and management courses, and English departments that will make us nothing more than better call center agents should continue.
And still another: Because the ways of the great Christian tradition are irrelevant to today’s young people and to the society at large, let’s get rid of unnecessary ritual. Let’s get rid of the Mass, or the liturgy. And all that old music is stodgy, dry, and dated, and people will go off to sleep. So let’s dump chants, Gregorian and otherwise, and hymns, and yes, even meditative music and start singing songs where one word spells the difference between what we sing in church and what we hear on pop music stations. It’s relevant and cool. And while we’re at it… dump the saints. Simplify religion. In fact, get rid of the church. We don’t need it to stand between us and God (even if, some of us are reminded, we are the church).
Can’t we rewrite those too?
And so the challenge of this century begins: as things rapidly change, the old certainties collapse, and the last gasp of modernity is being felt all over, it is time for us to rewrite the script.