"I’m Better Than You Are!"

This is a free-think exploration to sort through the matter of elitism and standards of what is “better” as a way of life. Particularly if you are a woman. 

Take the case of Senator Sotto. Here is a man who drips with arrogance and condescension toward the lessers who insist upon cluttering  his distinguished life. You know, like bloggers and academicians and now an award-winning book writer who is demanding he be held to account for ethics violations.
Or take the case of Joseph August America who pens blog after blog fairly dripping with haughty intellectual superiority as he parses Philippine culture for all its eccentricities as viewed through a westerner’s prism that refracts behavior into good and bad colors.

Joe points toward ignorance as the reason for a lot of bad behavior, and he sorts ignorance into three buckets: (1) innocent, as with poor people who are trapped in a poor educational and family situation, (2) negligent, as with people who could and should read and think, but do not, or (3) intentional, where people pose as lacking knowledge because it gets them something, as Senator Sotto would utter, “Wha? I didn’t plagiarize. I don’t know what that means.”
“Ignorance of the law” is generally not accepted as a good defensive argument in American courts. It appears acceptable in the Philippines when a guy who MAKES the laws holds it up as justification for shamelessly stealing the original work of another.
So I ask the question, “Are some people better than others?”
  • Is a smart person better than a dumb person?
  • Is a rich person better than a poor person?
  • Is a senator better than a citizen?
  • Is a columnist better than the person he criticizes?
  • Is a healthy person with two arms better than a sick person with one arm?
  • Is a white person better than a black person, or a brown one?
  • Is a Muslim person better than an atheist, or a Christian?
The possible answers are “yes” or “no” or “damnifiknow”.
The answer is “yes” if there are standards available to measure the quality of “goodness” or “betterness”. Some are better than others.
The answer is “no” if we are talking about an individual’s place on earth where we each play our part as king or amoebae, as assigned by God or the fates or chaos or whatever orders our disorder and imposes a seemingly unfair lot in life upon so many. We all stand equal, all largely ignorant of what was, is and will be.
The answer is “damnifiknow” most of the time, or maybe more accurately, “idon’tgivearatspatootie”.
“Yes”: When people are better
If there is a goal attached to behavior, then the quality of person counts. If we want to hire a lawyer, we want one who is not ignorant of case law. If we run a business, we want to hire people who work hard and well. If we run a college, we want to enroll kids who have done well in high school.
  • So, in given settings, a smart person is better than a dumb person.
  • And a rich person is better than a poor one if we are selling something.
  • And a senator is better than a citizen if we need a new law.
  • And two-armed people make better firemen.
But a senator is not better than the common good, or public interest. And a senator who deludes himself into thinking he is superior over his critics is just that: delusional. His critics represent voices of people the senator is charged with serving and protecting. And if he won’t listen to those voices, and respect them, then he is negligent and ought to be punished. For in the hierarchy of importance, he is the lesser of the two, senator and public well-being.
Interestingly, in the Philippines, hiring a friend or family member is better than hiring a skilled person. So by the value standards of the Philippines, power and advantage are more important than productivity or fairness. Pity. The Philippines is what the Philippines always will be until the standard of “betterness” switches to competence. Honest is a part of competence.
“No”: When we all stand equal
Everyone has an important place on this earth. It is sacrosanct, the place we each occupy, belonging only to us and God. What we make of it, the burdens we carry, the joys we feel, the decisions and acts and results: they are real, and they are ours, and they are meaningful. No one is better than us at that. No one.
It is when people intrude into this realm that problems arise. When one man tells another man that he is worthless if he does not believe in the right God. Or if a woman is told she cannot go to school. Or if a woman is told she must remain in a marriage to an abusive deadbeat husband. Then our rightful claim to equality is abused.
Freedom is nothing more than an unequivocal insistence that we all stand equal, under God, under the law, under nature’s order.
Well, too much freedom and things get a little crazy. Loud, dangerous, unhealthy. Murderous.
So we need some order, and there are two kinds:
  1. Morality, the rules of faith. These are rules based on a vision that may or may not be factually true. If the vision is overlaid on people who don’t hold it as true, then we have trouble. Freedom conflicts with faith. Morality is the root of much evil on earth.
  1. Laws, the common-sense rules of community, are troublesome to the devious or undisciplined, and inconvenient for a lot of us most of the time. They are the rules that allow different people to live together in harmony. Their foundation is not in an imaginary vision, but in the honorable assessment of what is best for the most people, or injures the fewest. Laws respect our differences and preserve them by protecting the community.
Laws based on faith are troublesome. When the rule is something like the kind of cloth we must wear as a head covering, a reason that derives from God rather than community well-being, we have a problem.
When the “properness” of one’s sexual desires is defined by faith rather than science, then we have a problem.  Homosexuality was not understood when the Bible was crafted. It still today is not understood by a large segment of the population . . . the learned population . . . people who insist it is like smoking and can be stopped.

But scientists understand it.

And scientists understand the differences between men and women. The differences have precious little relevance to an individual’s ability to think and perform a given task.
When laws demand we behave opposite the laws of nature, then we are asking for trouble.
In that situation, laws are trying to take some within the community and declare them “unequal” to the rest.  As many Philippine laws declare women to be unequal to men today. Well, when we were in the caves, yes, man was the hunter and the aggressor in seeking a mate. Today we are not in the caves.
It’s a problem when the rules flowing from faith do not change but science changes knowledge. When knowledge points out that we are abusing the God-given right of each individual to claim his place on the planet. Then discrimination and harm occur.
Idontgivearatspatootie right now.
It is insane that the old men of the Senate, bound to rules based on faith, withhold education from women. It is a great shame that the poorest women of the Philippines are denied the ability to manage their lives as independent, free beings on God’s good green earth.
These men are telling women “I’m better than you are” at deciding what is in your best interest.

I don’t know why Filipinas so graciously concede their place on the planet to narrow-minded, ethics deficient cave men.

41 Responses to “"I’m Better Than You Are!"”
  1. Your article hit a home run with my advocacy. Allow me to insert my words. 1st Base: When laws (medical science) demand we behave opposite the laws of nature, then we are asking for trouble. 2nd Base : These men (surgeons/oncologists) are telling women "I'm better than you are" at deciding what is in your best interest. 3rd Base: I don't know why Filipinas so graciously concede their place on the planet to narrow-minded, ethics deficient cave men." The home run came earlier from the Kofi Annan. When women thrive (don't get breast cancer), all of society benefits, and succeeding generations are given a better start in life. Yes, breast cancer is about human rights, women's rights, social values and morality.

  2. I commend you for putting actions behind your ideals and wish you well in your advocacy.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I've commented in JoeAm's "Manifesto for the Liberated Filipina" blog post last August 23, my wife's 32nd birthday and I'll post it again: "My recommendation to Filipinas is to raise more hell and fewer children!" I think this is one effective way to get even with these narrow minded, ethics deficient cave men. My Filipino-Hawaiian wife really liked my comment and has showered me with more love since that post!

  4. Yes, my wife smiled this morning, too, when I quoted your observation. That should be the general motto for Filipina women's advocates.

  5. Edgar Lores says:

    1. Very thoughtful piece and powerful writing.2. None of the types of ignorance – innocent, negligent and intentional – is bliss.2.1 Ignorance is often equated to evil, and that classification can apply to evil as well.2.2 If ignorance and evil can be innocent, is Natural Law as it pertains to human behaviour false? This question is directed to the Church and Jesuits.3. I went through each question, and my answer to each was “No”.3.1 “Better” is a qualitative distinction. All the questions point to an external attribute and not to inherent essence. Except perhaps the first one – smartness. To which we must consider the following:• Albert Einstein: “Everybody is a genius.”• Laszlo Polgar: “Geniuses are made, not born”.• Buckminster Fuller: “All children are born geniuses and we spend the first six years of their lives degeniusing them.”3.2 If you add the question – “Is a good person better than a bad person?” – you run into all sorts of difficulties.4. I am trying my hand at developing a code of non-faith based rules.5. Scientists understand the differences between men and women in many kinds of biological ways and psychological ways but I am sure not all things can be explained. Why, for example, can I not remember the exact date of my wedding anniversary? Is it intentional ignorance?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Edgar,3.1 "Some are smarter than others."-Imelda5 Many reasons why we forget. Aging, alcohol, mental trauma, erectile dysfunction. Which is yours?DocB

  7. Anonymous says:

    Elementary, Sherlock says!At an early age, we learned that men were created equal. In grade school we were taught that "Mother knows best" yet did not keep those words at heart.As usual, religion is the root of our evil culture. Children as flower girls and ringbearers were indoctrinated with the words "Woman, obey your husband…. Till death do you part". Men imprinted those words in their minds, women carried them in their hearts while innocent children grew up ignorant thinking they were infallible words of God. Simple cause of beginning with destructive result.Filipino priests did not help much either by constantly preaching that women must sacrifice for the sake of keeping the family. Fortunately, changing times allowed the replacement of those dreadful wedding vows. Very basic indeed, "Mothers know best". We should have listened to our teachers than our pastors. He he he Johnny Lin

  8. Damn. All those words when I could have just said your 3.1, plus, "hey, babe, don't let delusional self-righteous men run your life."3.2 is a mental moebus strip.4. If you choose to blog it, I'll pay double my standard rate if you guest blog it here.5. God works in mysterious ways. So does DocB now that I think about it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Or kindergarten. As in Fulghum's "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten."DocB

  10. Anonymous says:

    Which is better? Mother knows best Or It's a sin to tell a lie.DocB

  11. Bwahahaha. "The head bone is connected to the . . ."

  12. Mothers rule. Especially if they can cook good.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Don't forget about breast cancer in men. A minority.DocB

  14. I once was on the Board of a kid's elementary school attached to a college in Los Angeles, where they used the school as a lab to improve teaching skills. They didn't care what the young (kindergarten) kids learned, or how fast they learned it, as long as they found joy in the learning.Then they were good to go for a lifetime, thriving on learning.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Mother Knows Best is a nineties American TV show It's A Sin To Tell A Lie is a sixties song by Bobby VintonTsuz ur wilde, Mariano would have answeredHe he heJohnny Lin

  16. Anonymous says:

    JoeThe caveat is a machismo rule on the likes of Sotto, Enrile, TatadWife has to turn you from machismo to machismosoHe he he Johnny Lin

  17. Anonymous says:

    JoeAm,Aren't laws based on the morality found in religion or the basis for it? Example-the Ten Commandents. Or these are just issues of secularism, modernity, etc.?DocB

  18. Anonymous says:

    JoeBet your wife will tell youIt's A Sin To Tell A Lie was sung by Victor WoodHi hi hiJohnny Lin

  19. Anonymous says:

    JoePre-empting you again on that "The Subic Chronicles", Young women entrepreneurs are happy.Very timely. Its Thanksgiving day in mainland USA followed by Black Friday. Remember Johnny Lin definition of "Liberty – Filipino prostitutes interpretation of Black Friday"

  20. Yes, you have hit the vulnerability in my argument that there is a distinction. I think the root is, what is the law based on, knowledge or faith? If it comes from a religious book, it can be either. For example, the reason for not eating pork was based on diseases at the time. It was dangerous to eat pork. Well, the rule is still there for many "because it is in the book", but the book is inflexible to new knowledge. So it becomes an infringement on freedom of choice for those of that faith. The Ten Commandments are laws based on harmonious community, not on faith per se. They are constructive, not confining of freedom. It gets dicey, I know. But some moral laws are clearly not healthy.I think I'll shut up now.Kindly go back to jokes. . .

  21. Black Friday is when all the stores set new sales records. Yes, and into the Subic shopping season we go . . .

  22. Anonymous says:

    JoePardon me for intruding unnecessarily. Thanksgiving day and Black Friday are too big events in US now. When was the last time you were there for Turkey Day?In the Philippines we are having a hard time to initiate changes in our habits, culture included. We could not pass FOI, RH bill and Sin Tax bill is long overdue. Whereas in US, laws are not even needed to effect changes. Thanksgiving now is no longer traditional.Thanskgiving day is now one of the busiest day of ethnic restaurants, Chinese, Vietnamese, Middle East. casinos have overflowing gamblers. Nightclubs are filled to capacity by young crowds. Megastores start opening by 8PM Thursday night instead of midnight. Shoppers are camping as early as today and partake the turkey in their makeshift campgrounds in malls. Shoppers have formed shopping roups to be assigned to buy things at certain stores for the members of their communities assuring everybody in their neighborhoods substantial savings. Community care at its best.In short, Thanksgiving day has turned big business in America. Good for the economy but it foretells that the increasing immigrant population is shunning traditional Pilgrims culture. The question, is it good or bad? Johnny Lin

  23. Edgar Lores says:

    DocB,5.1 Can't be – I forgot beginning from the 1st anniversary.5.2 Can't be – I never drank that much.5.3 Can be – Possibly brought on by marriage itself?5.4 Can't be per 5.1 and I have 2 kids.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Thought Ten Commandments was handed by God himself in Mount Arayat in Pampanga.DocB

  25. Anonymous says:

    Knew it. You just have selective amnesia. That requires a lot of brain power even a Jason Bourne would be hard put to break.DocB

  26. 2008. I'd say the new trends and traditions are an add-on to the traditional, not a replacement. I know my family,in its assorted parts, still collects for the holiday. Still has the traditional afternoon meal with appropriate blessings and giving of thanks. Still has turkey and dressing and yams and cranberries and pumpkin pie and wine. Yes, they may play with the X-box after the meal instead of tag football, but it is still the most family of American Holidays.

  27. Anonymous says:

    hahaha! Good joke, DocB!

  28. andrew lim says:

    If men were the ones getting pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. That's not my quote, I forgot who to attribute it to. The Anglican Church just missed by a narrow margin the vote on allowing women to become bishops. Bishops and clergy were overwhelmingly in favor; the laity vote was just six votes shy. I am waiting for the Vatican's response to that Indian woman who died from infection due to the refusal of hospitals in Ireland to give her an abortion. Also waiting for them to comment on pending legislation in Nigeria that would criminalize homosexuality (not just the acts, but being one!). These are defining cases for them.

  29. Cha says:

    I cannot claim to speak for every other Filipino woman but I do suspect that a lot of women (at least those that I know) probably feel the way I do. To start with, I have never really felt the need to prove myself better than the Filipino male. Even in the corporate setting, I never felt as if there was a glass ceiling that stood in my way. None of the Filipino men that I've worked with have ever given me a reason to suspect that I was not being treated as an equal. I do wonder, though, why some men would tend to ascribe traits or behaviors more usually associated with men to convey the image of a tough woman, like brandishing a gun, for instance. I, myself prefer the Hilary Clinton meme that shows Hilary clad in dark designer sunglasses, staring at her blackberry, captioned : Hey Hil, watchu doing? … Running the world. And excuse me guys, I know you mean well, but I believe we women are good for more than just raising more hell and fewer children. I, for one, would much rather raise the level of my understanding of the world and the issues confronting us all so I can, in turn, help raise the level of awareness of others, men and women alike, on those I feel strongly about.

  30. Yes, perhaps what we are seeing in RH is a desperate church, squirming to hang onto something before their doctrines collapes in a heap, struck down by scientific knowledge and enlightenment among the poor.

  31. Well, Cha, you always speak with authority here, and it is no wonder you were treated as an equal. Intelligence and decency demand that.With regard to your last paragraph, as I am the guy who started the discussion, let me respond. My audience is not the already enlightened (you), but those on the edge of awareness. Consider it a little nudge. And it is also men, like Senator Sotto and Enrile, who strut their manly stuff with little regard for the choices and resources they deny poor women.As for "raising hell", that is what you are doing when you raise the level of your understanding and help others do the same. I don't mean to stomp braless down Roxas and curse at men. I'll make sure the Humpty Dumpty New World Dictionary gets updated to reflect this wholesome definition of "raising hell".Thanks for bringing clarity to this.

  32. Cha says:

    Like I said, I know you all mean well. But I didn't think I'd be doing you any favors keeping mum about how that statement comes across to a woman. Being told to raise more hell and less children is no different from being told to be a good Catholic woman and breed as many children as is possible. It's patronizing. So this is me raising hell, in a good way 🙂

  33. Our purpose is to learn. Thank you for the lesson, delivered firmly but politely. Kinda like a slap upside the head, ice bag included. :/

  34. Cha says:

    Well, I've also been remiss. I forgot to mention that I do actually agree with and appreciate the points you raised in the article, especially that last bit about our favorite senators' attitudes toward women evident in their handling of the RH Bill. I don't think there's any other man, Filipino or otherwise, raising this point at all. So there.In closing, I quote the comedian George Carlin: "Here's all you need to know about men and women; women are crazy and men are stupid. And the reason women are crazy is that men are stupid" :))

  35. Anonymous says:

    Cha and JoeGlass of wine a day is good for the heart, medical experts say. After every delicious dinner cooked by my wife, I look direct in her eyes and say these words: Who needs wine to save the heart when I have you saving my life – Johnny LinThis is an original!He he he

  36. You smoothie you. I look into my wife's eyes and ask, "do you want me to do the dishes now, or later?"

  37. Anonymous says:

    Recite it everyday no matter what happened between you during the day. When you get used to it eventually the wife will feel guilty sparing you the dishes. It's also the antidote to not speaking with each other in bed. Grace before meal is to the ProviderGrace after meal is to the Partner – Johnny Lin

  38. Anonymous says:

    Andrew, I read an Inquirer article about the "Homosexuality Agenda" and how the Church heirarchy seems to be pushing for this kind of bigotry to advance their pro-life and pro-family agenda.DcB

  39. Anonymous says:

    The Breast Cancer campaign is not helped by conflicts of interest arising from the business between doctors on the one hand and the pharmaceutical and nutriceutical industries on the other.DocB

  40. Anonymous says:

    JoeAm, also check Lourd de Veyra. Also wisecracking like you about funny Pinoys.DocB

  41. Thanks I appreciate the introduction. His blog is at: http://www.spot.ph/this-is-a-crazy-planets/Some quotes:“Masamang damo, matagal mamatay,” so the saying goes. If this is true, then Philippine politics— populated by murderous warlords and kleptomaniacal fornicators—is a goddamn African savanna. The more expensive the car sound system, the cheaper the owner's taste in music.Never befriend anyone who calls Boracay "Bora." Nor should you befriend anyone who watches professional wrestling.Just because you're stoned doesn't mean you have to eat that dog food.________Hey, this is my kinda guy!

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