The Anchor for Morality

Morality = manner, character, proper behavior.

Joe Am doesn’t like statistics, but he’ll deal with the little rascals from time to time.
  • “For simple replacement of the population to keep up with deaths, most people assume that the average family size should be 2 children, or perhaps 2.1 or 2.2 to make up for human error. But these figures are too low, as has been shown by Prof. Hubert Campbell of the Department of Medical Statistics, University of Wales. Campbell came to the conclusion that the figure should be over 2.4 children per family. His reasoning was based on the premise that every woman should leave behind her at least one fertile daughter. To achieve this, allowance must be made for the fact that at birth there is a 1-percent preponderance of boys; there is a high infant death rate in the first year or two; about 10 percent of the girls will not marry; and of those who do, some 10 percent will prove to be sterile. These figures add up to about 2.43 children per family. If this is the figure needed for replacement, that for healthy growth must be about 4.0.” Fr. Desmond Morrison, Missionary Society of St. Columban, as reported in the Inquirer
So the good Father is arguing that the current Philippine growth rate of 4.0 is healthy. Never mind that he got from his “sustainable” number of 2.43 to the “ideal” number of 4.00 on a huge wing and a prayer. His moral statement is based on “the sanctity of unborn life” and he shapes his statistics accordingly.
World Population Growth – Historical
Fr. Morrison brings the population argument into the RH debate even though politicians want it out. That is akin to bringing the abortion debate into the argument about contraceptives. Fight reason with fire and brimstone, an commonly Catholic way of arguing. Ask Tito Sotto about that. 
The RH Bill has been sanitized to remove any kind of population planning goals in order to focus strictly on women’s health. This is the result of political game-playing, the challenge of what a Congress must do to pass responsible legislation when a loud voice of moral outrage from the Catholic Church inserts itself into the legislative process. Bop and weave, duck and cover, sanitize and pray.
  • An estimated 350 million women in the poorest countries of the world either did not want their last child, do not want another child or want to space their pregnancies, but they lack access to information, affordable means and services to determine the size and spacing of their families. wikipedia
That suggests a moral imperative based on “the sanctity of  a woman’s life”. You either want to end this condition  of suffering or you accept it. The Catholic Church has no suggestions as to how to end it other than natural birth control, which creates the condition. In other words, no workable suggestions.
We can get dizzy on statistics, eh? Link up to that wikipedia article and you will read the most elaborate review on overpopulation imaginable. You like facts, go there. Or go here.
I want to discuss the foundations of morality. What should we use to anchor our values?
  • The bible, and what the Catholic Church says? Or a competing religion, Islam? Or Mormonism like U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The religion anchor.
  • The suffering of the poor? The suffering of women, burdened with ignorance and babies they can’t feed or teach? Or the suffering of the disadvantaged in Africa, in insane asylum, or in Topeka, Kansas? The Mother Teresa anchor.
  • The macro-view of a planet being eaten alive and slopped full of pollution by its people-rodents? Ecology and sustaining our miserable little lives? The eco-anchor.
We get to choose, so what is the best anchor of our values?
Well, I choose the family as the foundation of my moral initiatives going forward. And emphatically, specifically, the kids alive today.
Not the sperm or the hatchling that endangers a mother’s health or will be raised as an object of hatred and resentment destined to become terror on earth.  I don’t like abortions. I like even less presuming I know better than others what hard choices they need to make. And I detest when the State steps in to shove its morality into mine, thereby giving Friars or communists or idiots the right to make decisions that I have to live with.
I choose the family – the mother, the father and the children – as the foundation of my moral initiatives.
The two important facets of family life that need to be built and preserved and even held precious are. (1) health, which encompasses safety, security, sanitation, and means (money), and (2) enlightenment, which encompasses education and good living.
I believe that the health of Filipino families is connected directly to having readily available supplies of food, water and jobs. The planet and the nation are slow-moving ships, difficult to turn, and they are on a course where resource limits slam into the bow like an ice berg. That’s dangerous.
We have a lot of people living in an increasingly risky climate with untold disasters awaiting the unprepared. Water shortages already abound with sometimes violent competition, farmers versus cities. We encounter more and more food shortages with whole crops placed at risk by violent and sustained swings in weather.
Other nations have adjusted direction, pulling population growth down to levels they can support. The Philippines has only now recognized that it has a steering wheel and ought to be using it. The RH Bill and the dialogue around it are already helping the Philippines. Passing the Bill would help it more.
I am confident that a great enlightenment is slowly spreading across the Philippines, and the population explosion will start to moderate. I’m taking this off of my carping agenda because I think responsible people will get the ship to turn.
Projected population growth rates
However, there is so much more to do to assure the health of Philippine families. To get kids off the trash dumps scrapping for food, to get them bathed, to give them clean water and soap, to get them to competent doctors when they are sick.
If you put the child’s health at the center point of your morality, and look around the Philippines, you stand aghast, absolutely agape, at the enormous failings of Philippine values. Young girls sold for sex. Kids age nine sent to the cane fields. Homes on the mud banks, filled with kids. Kids packed 45 to a room in open air school buildings then released into the civilized world, still ignorant about the finer details of obeying laws, being courteous and living responsibly.
It does no good to complain, to accuse, to excuse.
It only does good to get to work to do a better job of fending for the kids.
The goal: health of the family.
This is difficult. The opposite of enlightenment, ignorance, occurs at two planes. One is among the wealthiest of Filipino citizens, the oligarchs and political families, the politicians, the movers and shakers. The other is among the poorest of Filipino citizens, the squatters and day workers who can barely make ends meet.
  • Ignorance of the elite. I consider the oligarchs and their brothers of ego ignorant because they prize a harmful value, the value of self-interest over community. They fail to grasp that their kind of achievement, wealth and good living, is done on the backs of a lot of good people. It is a short-term achievement, the glory and satisfaction they personally get during their lifetime. It is a long term disaster for the nation’s well-being, a well-being long suffering, long ignored. Favors and cheating and who-you-know become the blanket that suffocates good deeds. How do you infuse an oligarch with the compassion and generosity and patriotism that brings progress to a hidebound nation? It is, after all, a hidebound nation. (“hidebound” = stubborn, narrow minded; as in unable to change)
  • Ignorance of the poor. How do you break the cycle? Poor uneducated parents setting poor examples for kids who have to compete in a world that gives few breaks. Poor education. No reading. Superstition ruling medicine and faith. Kids 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 getting precious little nurturing. What kind of self esteem, what kind of psychological composition, do we expect from this family? Achievement or anger? Giving or taking? Thinking or thoughtlessness?
One thing I know is that you cannot remain the same and change. You can’t hang onto the ignorance and become enlightened.
There is a huge mandate for the Department of Education to do more, and do it better. Not just build buildings and hire teachers or bicker about English vs. Tagalog. To CHANGE what is taught and how it is taught.
And there needs to be a mandate for laws that separate oligarchs from governance, and the Church from governance. And to break up the goliath corporations that block wholesome competition. To break up the cozy self-serving patronage of the society of good old boys. There also needs to be a way to impose responsibility on legislators and judges.
But how?
These institutions are burdening Filipino families in ways we can’t easily see. In time, and given a few blogs, I’ll point out some of the connections.
The goal: enlightenment of the family.
The Family as the Center of Morality
You’ll start to see some new themes in Joe Am’s articles. I’ll set aside over-birthing and population growth, and even my ragging on the Catholic Church, for a different set of priorities.
I’ve already done a lot of writing about education. And will do more.
But I really want to attack some of the roots of the failure of the Philippines to change. To progress.
To take care of its kids.
25 Responses to “The Anchor for Morality”
  1. Anonymous says:

    I'll sound facetious here, sorry, after reading your big- picture population account but it seems like the elite and most anti-RH bill Pinoys are praying for an epidemic or a great temblor to do what a good RH bill will do the great Pinoy poor. Apologies.DocB

  2. Cha says:

    The two important facets of family life that you have identified, health and enlightenment, "that need to be built and preserved and even held previous" correspond to basic human needs put forward in most theories of human motivation. Abraham Maslow, the father of Humanist Psychology, enumerates the Hierarchy of Human Needs as: physiological (food, water etc), safety and security (physical, health, financial), social, esteem, self actualization (reaching one's full potential as a person). Other theories are mostly revisions or just reclassification of the original hierarchy of Maslow, such as the ERG theory (Clayton) which clusters some of the needs together into just 3 classifications; Existence, Relatedness and Growth. A more recent grouping (Hertnon) Is closest to your two facets of family life, survival and betterment needs. According to Hertnon, addressing survival needs enables a person to live while addressing betterment needs enables a person to feel good about being alive.And therein lies the wisdom of your choice of the needs of the family as the foundation of your moral initiatives, as it coincides with our own humanity. What could be a better anchor or basis for morality than to preserve human life and existence, and ensure that life is even worth living.You are on to something here, Mr. Joe. Please keep going.

  3. Cha says:

    … and even held precious (not previous!)

  4. I think the anti-RH people are largely spitting into the wind for distance and one cannot stop the spread of good thinking once people realize it is stupid to do dumb things. Like have 10 kids. I sense the discussion about the bill had achieved half the goals, and the rest will come as women realize they not need consign themselves to misery, based on talking to other women. My wife's sister had an IUD put in place after three kids. She is a classic case of raised poor, figured things out . . . Others who know her will do the same, I think. I'll be happy to let other bloggers push that particular rock of enlightenment.

  5. Thank you Cha. I think my brain is a blender. I studied Maslow many (many, many) years ago, was an executive for a lot of years, a parent in two different families, on the board of a private school, worked for a major children's charity . . . each venture throws knowledge into the cranium where some incident stirs it up and, bingo, Maslow emerges like so much mango pulp from the float juicer.It is a subject I'm very interest in, the well-being and enlightenment of kids, so I think I'll enjoy pounding the keys on it. I hope you pound or peck at it with me, as your cranium has a lot of enlightened perspective in it.

  6. Cha says:

    Well, I'm a mother, so the well being and enlightenment of kids is not only a subject I'm interested in as well, I've actually made it my business these past couple of years. And this is why I'm incensed at the conduct of this Senator Sotto and his colleagues making light of plagiarism in the supposedly hallowed walls of the Senate, using as justification the fact that they all are doing it already anyway. Holy mother of cows, what sort of parents are or have these people been to their own children? What sort of lessons do they teach them about honesty and integrity, or even just at the very least, the use of good old common sense!If I were a parent in the Philippines or perhaps even a teacher, I'd be up in arms organising some sort of protest or petition calling on these allegedly "honorable" senators to rectify whatever false impressions they have created amongst the filipino youth with their irresponsible commentary.I wish someone would start up a Parents Action Group in the Philippines, that can look after the interests of parents simply trying to do a good job parenting. They can lobby for better laws, government policies, media practices etc. that will protect their rights as parents and enhance their abilities to bring up morally upright and productive Filipino children.

  7. You know, I had not thought of Senator Sotto from the standpoint of the message he is sending to young people. So now he goes lower than disgusting on my character-o-meter. I don't know what that is. Despicable?

  8. Edgar Lores says:

    Interesting discussion. First, we developed a Hierarchy of Man’s Loyalties and now we have Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs.If I were to look at Morality, I would ask two questions. First: What is it? And second: Why do we need it? Joe has provided an answer to the first: Morality is proper behaviour.The second is perhaps a little harder to answer. If we look at the Hierarchy of Loyalties, we see that the Self is in relationship with external constructs. Therefore, I would submit that Morality is the necessary guide to man’s ethical behaviour in his interaction with these external constructs. Not only with these constructs, I would add, but even with himself.Although Maslow’s schema is of the Self, we can compare our hierarchies and observe some parallels. Note that Maslow’s layers are more porous than ours.• Our first circle is Self and this corresponds to Maslow’s first level, Physiological needs.• Our second circle is Family, and this too corresponds to Maslow’s second and third layers of needs, Safety and Love/belonging.• Our third, fourth and fifth circles – Community, Country/Church and World – can be lumped together to correspond to Maslow’s fourth layer of Esteem.• And, of course, our top circle of God nicely corresponds to the top of Maslow’s pyramid, Self-actualisation.Your approach to morality, Joe, is from the circle next to Self, the circle of Family. This is a brilliant approach. Morality is normally seen as emanating from religion, the outer circle of God. This is reflected in your foundations of morality list, which names religion as the top anchor. Instead of taking a top-down approach, you are adopting a bottom-up approach.Why do I say brilliant? Because people are normally cautious when you talk about God and morality. They think you are proselytizing for a particular religion or denomination. By taking the bottom-up approach you disarm them because are not talking about a nebulous Entity out of space and time. You are talking about something close to home (pun intended). Family is a fitting anchor for a discourse on the subject.Cha, your psychological insights are penetrating. Keep on pounding.

  9. Edgar Lores says:

    Cha, why don't you write a piece about your experience with the enlightenment of kids? Or your first-person account of EDSA I? You have such literary and, I more than suspect, poetic talents. If you are the same-named contributor to Raissa's blog, the technical writing skills are also evident. As are the qualities of your Mind and Heart. Joe has provided his email address above.

  10. Edgar, actually, I thought about your prior hierarchy 1 through 8 and recognized I was anchoring low on the list, below God, but it seemed like a meaningful place to tie in.I never considered that I could be disarming, however. That's a skill that will require more practice.Thanks for the encouragement.

  11. I would most heartily welcome that!Joe

  12. Anonymous says:

    I find lacking your description of the important facets of family life.Values ranked high to me, which was not included in your "health and enlightenment" important facets. It encompasses love, compassion and religious belief. "family that prays together, stays together" is meaningfully significant to growing children. "Loving thy neighbor" molds a child to better understanding of human frailties.

  13. Stick with it in future blogs. This one was merely setting the scene. I like the biblical lessons you illustrate. That is something I might have overlooked,but will address as I explore this "morality anchored on the family".Thanks.

  14. Edgar Lores says:

    Just so people know what is being discussed, the Hierarchy of Man's Loyalties is:1. God2. World (All Countries)3. Country (National)4. Church5. Community (Local)6. Family7. SelfThe theory behind this Hierarchy can be found in the commentary of the article "The Foundations of Patriotism" of this blog.

  15. Anonymous says:

    From: Island jim-e (aka: The cricket)1. Wonderful essay and comments on a simple subjectthat one would be led to believe could be a e-z solution if people just pulled together and did agood job to correct the causes/roots/seeds, etc..!I applaud the wonderful comments and appreciate thevalue of "good intentions"! For your consideration and evaluation I would like tomake a few observations as follows:2. I had a nice brief discussion with a Philippine born and educated MD who immigrated to the USA and wasstrong enough to return to the islands to see what goodhe could do to assist in the islanders growing up intoadulthood status–his main contribution during todaysvisit was that our current sufferings are the fault ofthe few family die-nasties, the denial of the current administrators/executives in the government, the"wacky churches", and the population being takenadvantage of by the power brokers to keep the powerfulin power!3. The rest of the day my wife and I spent in interview-ing for a new house maid/assistant (we spent last week-end doing the same thing). You may be suprised at thenumber of young people who have graduated high schoolbut cannot cook and read-we were! You might be supprisedto learn how many never had a tv-set, refrigerator,freezer, or bother to read a label more or less a news-paper-and of course a computer-knowledge is very, verylimited and hard to find. Knowledge of government-civics-voting-participation in any associations/organizatons– unheard of!To recap our assistant/helper/maid hunting experiences:#1. Promised not to have children, she wanted to proceedto get her college teaching degree and her boy friend evenmade the same promise (note: I offer to pay for anycontracptives or surgery to prevent births–I personallybelieve in sex, feel goods, etc., but draw the lineat birthing)–six months later she left due to findingout she was a mother to be-she was unmarried.#2. Single mother of one, same promise, left due tobeing with child and "to get married".#3. Stated she did not like to work where we lived andwanted to return to Manila City to be with boy friends.#4. Provence femanle, left to get married and return tothe provences.#5. Provence female, left to get married.#6. On loan from sister-in-law….awaiting return to my sister-in-law as soon as we could find a replacement.#7. Just hired today, abused mother of four from theprovences, first marriage a bust, living with a new friend,who is a fisherman in southern Luzon area (fishing isbad due to weather, etc..). Has a sick child, made itthrough high school, said she can cook, wash, read labels,speaks very little american/english and comes from a familyof 13 siblings (one brother just died from health issues.),states she requires 3-4 days vacation every two months.Please define "family anchors"-values-examples-manners-character-proper behavior, etc.. again, I think I ammissing something in the translation and my comprehensionmay be in sore need of over-haul at the local statisticsoffice!Take to me of natural birth control methods, norms, insanity (bad behavior/bell curves/ab-normality), speak to me of womens health, over population, family planning,education, childrens and mothers health/education, risks,children birth spacing, access to information and contra-ceptives, affordable means and services available vs.workable solutions, the status of the church vs. thegovernment!Showcase for me the real "beef"/substance which willlead the islands out of the ignorance, apathy, indifference,lack of "back-bone", strentgh, character,education and motivation.. most of all THE FAMILY AS ANCHOR for MORAL INITIATIVES….PLEASE!chirp!

  16. Edgar Lores says:

    Addendum:The concept of Family can be expanded from the second circle of immediate family up to sixth circle of the World, which is another name for universal brotherhood.The community we live in as our extended family. The country we live in is our national family. All of mankind is an extended family. We are all brothers and sisters.

  17. Your tales of hiring represent the cross-cultural clash that we westerners face, giving our good Maslow coaching, counsel and understandings, aimed at building an enduring, constructive relationship with the workers, and getting back Filipino day-to-day living where there is no concept of career or working today for a better tomorrow. I extracted myself from anything but background counseling to my wife when my penchant for paying bonuses for good work produced exactly the opposite, lazy work and bragging about how "they stuck it to the American".The lack of career values is something I need to address. Why they don't exist among poorer families.Thanks for the backgrounding on this.

  18. Cha says:

    Well thank you guys! If I do send in a contribution though, it will probably be about sex education, if that's alright with both of you. It dovetails the discussion on health and enlightenment within the context of the Filipino family and there's just too many myths and misconceptions out there that need to be straightened out. What say you?

  19. I say that would be a wonderful submission.

  20. Anonymous says:

    In an interview at Rappler, the ZTE-whistleblower Jun Lozada talked about "Amoral Familism" when Ms. Ressa asked him about Pinoy corruption. The drift I got was for most Pinoys corruption is accepted and family members are obliged to look out for each other, never mind the moral and socioeconomic costs. So, Joe and Cha, might this also correspond to family values?DocB

  21. I think it is right at the heart of it. When there is no promise "out there", you do what you have to do to take care of those dear. Thanks, Doc. You've given me the germ of an idea for the first blog in the family series.

  22. Anonymous says:

    You are funny Joe Am…in a subtle sort of way.

  23. Cha says:

    Ahaha, I think I got It. But he probably didn't realise and meant the double entendre.

  24. This time was an accident or maybe subconscious amusement. Other times I do try for subtle humor and think most miss it, but I laugh anyway. I'd say, anon, that you have a refined sense of humor.

  25. Edgar Lores says:

    Cha, Wonderful! Not for me to approve – just recommend.

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