A Society Tipping Point

The Underbelly of  a Nation Rising

This blog is at a tipping point. It represents almost 600 articles dedicated to Joe’s education and various observations and opinions. It has been a forum for excellent discussion. Rarely negative, generally respectful, often enlightening or entertaining.

Knowledge is never complete. But at some point, we have to ask the question that Edgar Lores asked a few days ago, that I ask regularly, and that others undoubtedly ask as they stop by, opine for a while, then move forward to other interests: “are we making a difference, and were do we go from here?”
I think that, personally, I have reached a point where I am starting to repeat myself, circling around again and again to the Church and Education and Justice and the banned field (for foreigners) of election politics.
  • How many times can I explain how important FOI is? You get it. I get it. The question is, do the people who can act on it get it? That is, are they committed to the well-being of the Philippines over personal advantage?
  • How many times can I suggest that more support for the President and nation would strengthen the Philippines? The need to build oneself up by tearing others down is relentless in this neck of the Pacific. It’s as if one’s intellectual credentials are attached to the demise of others.  It is wearing to watch so many people on the attack against their own country.
The President has a difficult job and cheap shots are easy.
President Aquino is honest, honorable and highly capable.  If you can’t back him, you will never find anyone up to par. Just steel yourself for a dismal democracy if that is the collective mind-set hereabouts.
I’d venture to say that JoeAm understands the Philippines mighty fine good. He understands better than most the cultural dynamics, the strengths, the flaws, the hopes, the opportunities and the risks of living in the Philippines.  He has much more to learn, and a blog is an excellent classroom.
He has gained this knowledge because he has had good teachers. People who commented and shared a perspective. The record shows 8,700 published comments in this blog.  Boy howdy, try putting that into a school lesson plan.
Have we reached important people with this blog? Ahahahaha, we have. For sure. Guaranteed, 100% we have.
Have we made a difference? Yes, we have done more than a tossed grain of sand into the West Philippine Sea to to change the destiny of the Philippines forever.
Do I want this to be a vanity blog where I mostly just amuse myself?
Do I want to dig into the minutia of the budget or Department of Education or Ombudsman to pick apart strengths and weaknesses?
No. That’s real work. I’m retired.
Do I want to lord my grand perspectives over the Philippines like some overblown colonizer with a self-proclaimed greater wisdom? Like thatbenigno malcontent at Get Real?

I couldn’t if I wanted to. As much as I know, I am still a lightweight. There are so many people here with a much deeper and well-grounded understanding of the Philippines than I have. After all, they live here and know the history that I miss, plus have a grasp of the nuance of language and cultural behavior that my western stonehead blocks out. My talent is running words together in a way that can make vivid sense, and , of course, the American perspective that I overlay on things, rightly or wrongly.

So this blog needs to change.
Here is my plan. I will reduce my volume of writing for the Society of Honor. There will be more empty space from day to day.  I’ll tend to avoid the issues that are well-covered elsewhere and look for relevant topics that can do with a western perspective. I’ll also continue to comment on other blogs and news sites in the Philippines, supporting the dialogue and collective voice of the people there.
The Society is a group of highly intelligent people. This blog remains wide open to articles submitted by others. I wish Mariano would do a blog. And our newfound gem in the “village”, Amy R. “J” does his own blog but is welcome any time to contribute here. MB, too, of course. Edgar, Cha, Andrew and Josephivo have done articles, and I welcome more from them, and from others. I am confident there are people hanging around in the background who could pen a perspective that would do well what Joe has aspired to do: provoke new ideas and constructive discussion.
I’m not sure yet what tone articles will take going forward. I suspect you might see a tempering of stridency. Less Angry Maude and more reflection. We’ll see.
Looking through the editor’s master lens we might see articles that are:

  • Positive, because I think the Philippines is buried unreasonably in complaint. 
  • Innovative in the discovery of fresh outlooks and new ways of solving problems. 
  • Literate and playful – satirical now and then – for the fun of it, and for the meaning of it. 
  • Beyond all, discussion that is voluntarily mature (not moderated), intelligent and respectful of the many styles and lifestyles that generate a rich exchange of perspectives and meaning.
8 Responses to “A Society Tipping Point”
  1. Edgar Lores says:

    1. There is a term “circle jerk” which knowyourmeme.com defines as “slang term referring to the positive feedback loop that can occur when ideas and beliefs are reinforced within a group or subculture’s enclosed space. The phenomenon is typically observed on websites that consists of self-contained forums for specific interests or subcultures.”2. It is self-validation through self-gratification in a group. At a certain point, the group will splinter through sheer boredom. There is no new input, no cross-currents, and the reactions – even on new events and situations – are predictable.2.1 This phenomenon is a good example of the Second Law of Thermodynamics: “If no energy enters or leaves the system, the potential energy of the state will always be less than that of the initial state”. Entropy, otherwise known as chaos, ensues.2.2 This phenomenon seems to be happening to Raissa’s blog.3. Self-gratification is a persistent human need that is best expressed in the Rolling Stones anthem of “I can’t get no satisfaction”. Associated with gratification is the human need for novelty, the new energy that is required to overcome the Second Law.4. Knowing this, either one accepts it or fights it.4.1 Successful websites like Rappler are constantly reinfused by the 24/7 news cycle, by a broad selection of menus, by new contributors and new commenters. It also attempts to attract a cross-section of demographic groups from no-brow, low-brow to high-brow.4.2 Reddit, and its companion site, Imgur, is another example. But the breadth and depth of Reddit is astonishing. One can happily spend many hours in a single subreddit. Major news media have now and then highlighted a Reddit item.4.3 The excursions into literature, music and humor have generated some interesting feedback, but as noted the volume of feedback has been less than satisfactory. Perhaps explorations into other areas would be rewarding. Such as quantum physics. :-)4.4 Unfortunately, the elections have been declared off-limits.4.5 The invitation to lurkers to contribute a post is most welcome. I would love to read something from Ella, Amy and others.4.6 Perhaps the daily cycle is too frequent. Reflective pieces would require longer exposure in order to be properly digested.4.7 Quantum physics? Hah!

  2. Ahahaha, I recognized the phenomenon but did not have a name for it. You nailed it!!! The circle jerk syndrome. And so we shall plow forward into quantum physics or other deep subjects, like, who, really, are the generals around here anyhow?

  3. andrew lim says:

    I was going to suggest that you scale down the frequency of articles to about 3 per week instead of 5 or 6. This will enable readers to react properly. I've noticed this in other blogs and online news columns. Many are unable to read or comment on the day it gets published. This will also give you and contributors more time to write thoughtful pieces and avoid repetitiveness. I'd also suggest you put an index to articles you deem to be reference material, e.g. Edgar's secular ethics, etc. which would remain relevant for a long time, so it can be accessed quickly.The political environment is in a holding pattern right now. Several dragons have been slain, but there is always another one around the corner. Raissa's blog is boring at the moment, but it will serve its purpose once more when an issue breaks out. I guess we all feel exhilarated when there's a hot topic like Corona or RH, but the truth is, the country would be ripped apart if we always had such divisive issues. Let's use the down time to improve ourselves and keep pounding away. As for me, one of my favorite topics is heating up again, and Im thinking of counter arguments to it.

  4. Very keen insights, Andrew. And excellent suggestions, thanks. I wish you well in your formulation of arguments and am certain they will be powerful.

  5. Ella Tovara says:

    Hello Everyone, May I also suggest that maybe we look and dissect the status of political institutions in this country. I guess that is one problem that has curtailed the progress of this country.Everything changes and there are even demolition jobs done for very good infrastructure simply because it was built by the past administration who is not the opponent of the present.I mean these are built with tax payers money … why demolish? are there laws against doing these and who is supposed to impose these?There are also unfinished projects that can't be finished, even if these are helpful to the community, again simply because the one who started it is the opponent of the one who won?Some nationalities may think that this is a very funny situation … but go around the Philippines and it is a reality.

  6. Cha says:

    Might there be some subliminal motivation in the posting of this particular article on a Good Friday, when Christians like myself are on the path of reflection on death and rebirth? :)I, too, concur with the idea of having some breathing space in between blogs. I wouldn't call them empty spaces though. It's rather like brewing a fine cup of coffee or tea. You just need to give it some time so the flavors may set in and you get the taste you are after. You don't want to underbrew and end up with a bland mix. Neither do you want to overbrew, for that matter.As to the question "are we making a difference and where do we go from here?", maybe it also needs to be asked "what sort of a difference are we after?". Or to put it another way, "where do we want to go and how will we know when we are already there?"Is the blog's primary purpose to influence the opinion-shapers and decision-makers? Or is it to rally the stakeholders into action?When an article is picked up and incorporated into an opinion piece by mainstream media writers like Boo Chanco or shared by Manuel Buencamino in his own network, is that to be taken as an indication of some sort of influence or at least increased potential to? When JoeAm gets indications via email or postings in the comments section that the blog has been read/ is being read by those within the President's circle, is that also to be taken as another indication of the blog's reach?Or is the target to change a few more hearts and minds out there, maybe reach out to a couple more Group B thinkers and create a snowball effect that then tips the scale in favor of a more enlightened discourse of critical issues via social media? Either way or even both are worthwhile targets, one would think. But having some clear and realistic expectations and goals can keep the sense of purpose and provide perspective for when that time comes when it feels like we are simply running around in circles. Happy easter everyone!

  7. Happy Easter, Cha. Thanks for the good and good-hearted counsel.

  8. Cha says:

    Hi Ella, i think I might have read of some unfinished projects somewhere, like a bridge that leads to nowhere. But I can't remember hearing about or reading about actual structures being demolished that shouldn't be. I agree that if that's the case, then that really ought to be looked into. Maybe you can write a blog on this. I know I'd read that!

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