Rodrigo Duterte is full of quotable lines that delight the pages of newspapers around the world. But Duterte is more than a few quips—he’s a historical atrocity in the making. Behind every joke that makes a headline, there’s a dark reality in the Philippines, and it’s much more terrifying than you might imagine.
“I don’t want to die!”
My son let his spoon crash onto the floor, his morning Cheerios spilling through the cracks of the hardwood, and cried in a painful wail. He was 4 years old, and he had just come face to face with the inevitability of his own mortality.
We’d let slip the secret that everyone dies one day. We’d just made a visit to his great-grandfather, who was being kept alive through an oxygen mask attached to his face, and we’d carelessly let the truth out.
“Even me?” our son asked.
We didn’t want to lie. “Not for a long, long, time,” his mother told him. “But – yes. Even you.”
Up until that moment, we didn’t really know if he understood what death was. He’d seen bugs get swatted and villains defeated on TV, and he’d even yelled out that he was going to kill the bad guys in a few rowdy play sessions — but we weren’t sure if he knew what any of it meant.
He cried for 10 minutes straight after he found out. It wasn’t like any tantrum we’d seen before. He shut down completely, dropping the food from his hand, and started wailing with more misery than he’d ever shown. It took 10 full minutes to calm him down enough to get him to curl into the fetal position in a bed, his mother’s arms wrapped around him, and he still wasn’t talking.
The Seven Wonders of the Natural World may have been named too quickly. Wonders like The Grand Canyon and Victoria Falls are certainly big, and anyone who sees them will surely be impressed—but sheer size isn’t enough to truly leave a person in awe.
There are other places in this world, though, that are far stranger. Places that seem almost alien, as if they could only exist on a planet that evolved separately from our own. These are places that scientists have had to struggle just to understand how they ever could have been formed. Places that will truly make you wonder—not just because they’re beautiful, but because they seem to follow scientific laws that don’t exist anywhere else on earth.
Ancient Rome holds a mythic place in our imaginations. It’s the land of historical epics like Ben-Hur and Gladiator, where men in golden armor ride chariots and emperors are fed grapes in reclining chairs.
Real life in Rome, though, was quite a bit less glamorous. In a time before modern sanitation and medicine, getting through an average day was a difficult task—and far more disgusting than you could ever imagine.
As is told in the ancient Roman text How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, every Christmas, the Whos down in Whoville stand hand-in-hand and sing carols. Nothing can stop their impenetrable Christmas spirit. Even when The Grinch steals Christmas, they still stand out in Whoville Square without any presents at all, singing as loud as they can.
But they’re not singing because they love Christmas. They’re singing because they’re terrified that they’re all going to be slaughtered. Because that’s what How The Grinch Stole Christmas! is really about: a community of traumatized people who live in constant fear of genocide.
You might’ve missed that part when you were four years old. And even more surprising is that it’s not The Grinch who is threatening them. It’s far crazier than that …