What does the word green mean to us? Among all the colors, it seems like green has assumed the most varied number of meanings and symbols.
One of the more positive connotations of green is hope, probably emanating from the color of newly sprung leaves. For after the leaves, come the flowers then the fruits.
Green can also mean calmness and deepness as in the green of the sea and coolness and vastness as in the green of mountains.
We were told in classrooms that green is the most sterile among the colors, thus most scrub suits are green, especially used in operating rooms by medical workers. Blackboards used in classrooms are actually colored green because according to studies, even if you stare at it for a long time it does not tax the eyes. We wonder why they were not called green boards.
A green thumb for plant lovers is an asset. Green light would mean go and green bucks is something our overseas workers work hard for. Green tea is a most welcome kind of green. It contains healthy bioactive compounds. Some claim green tea lowers the risk of some cancers, may protect the brain from aging, and helps prevent Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Green bacon, a fresh, non-smoked style of cured bacon is yummy. And too, the green of the emerald and the jade can be anything but negative.
However, just as the world must exist on the balance of opposites, green has its share of negative connotations. Green referring to the complexion means pale and sickly-hued. Green persons are gullible, immature or raw at what they are undertaking as in a greenhorn. A green ant can really hurt when they bite because they have the ability to spray formic acid. But a green eyed pone is jealous or envious, while one who has a green mind and one who keeps cracking green jokes are preoccupied with unsavory topics.
Now why are we so preoccupied with green?
This was brought on by the green scenery we passed on our way to a speaking engagement in a nearby province. Throughout the hour-long trip, we were treated to a splendid splash of green. Then when we arrived at the venue, the guests, mostly farmers, parishioners and the youth were extra thankful that we came.
I wondered why there was such an outpouring of thanks. Then one farmer said, “Ma’am, salamat naman at tinanggap ninyo ang imbitasyon namin. Binigyan nyo kami ng pansin kahit po ordinaryong tao lang po kami (Ma’am, thank you for accepting our invitation. We are just ordinary people but you have given us value).”
The green panorama has aroused our senses. In fact, we were thrust into a fruitful silence just by scanning the green we were passing. If I were to assign a color to these guys who call themselves ordinary, I would choose green.
Yes, why not green? Not the green as the mysterious jade, nor the gentle green of pine needles, or the green of the majestic Mayon Volcano, or the green of the deep sea, but to be plain ordinary green.
If we were green, we would easily blend with the environment. This crowd, mixed with others, would easily blend in. In other words, it means they would easily belong. Being ordinary would give us an edge over the gifted, the talented. Where the genius would be expected to excel, the ordinary would just do his best and be happy with his ordinary achievement. While the talented would disappoint others if he came out with inferior execution, not so with the less talented. Thus the ordinary has less pressure and less stress.
If we were ordinary housewives, we would see to it that we were home in time to meet the kids and husband. We would prepare food to please them, schedule our activities to harmonize with theirs. There would be no need to join Zumba classes or dress up in the latest fashion or spend more time with their friends than at home. If husbands are ordinary, they would be rushing home to the family at the close of work hours, or stay on overtime to augment the family income. He would not spend his time with the boys in the corner store.
These “ordinary” folks were like sponges, soaking in the testimonies we gave on our experiences during the martial law period. They were authentically sincere in wanting to learn.
Direct simple questions about the untruth of the “golden years” and the “gold bars” fed to many on social media, and the truths about the horrors, the tortures, the killings, the disappearances and the stolen wealth of the nation from ordinary people deserved ordinary responses of the real truth about martial law.
Just as the welcome was ardent, the interaction during and after the talk was earnest and lively. It was so gratifying to witness how some who believed in the lies peddled on social media, were convinced that they had to look at the facts according to evidence.
These ordinary folks gave us an extraordinary experience of hospitality, friendship and trust. Unfettered by a complicated mind, grace was allowed to work more freely.
Yes, green is beautiful. Ordinary is beautiful.
Edita Burgos is a doctor of education and a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites.
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