Looking at values inside out, or why the Left has it all wrong

rubins vase

Rubin’s Vase

I have a friend in the U.S. who is a very successful veterinarian, tending to the dogs and cats of the stars of Hollywood. She once took a drawing class at UCLA Extension and raved about the class.

“We are being taught a method of drawing the spaces in and around things, rather than the thing itself.”

Then she showed me her project, which was to draw a chair upside down by drawing, not the lines of the chair, but the lines surrounding the spaces within and around the chair. The shadows, for instance, would be in the spaces. It was a fantastic drawing.

More familiar to most of us is the silhouette which, when looked at, can be either a vase or two faces, depending on how you angle your perspective.

It seems to me that this “inversion or reflection” tactic is useful for examining our social values, or the morality that is the behavioral air in which we breathe.

I was struck by this notion in reading an Inquirer article by Ambeth R. Ocampo about Filipinos in Monterey, California about the time that John Steinbeck was penning his grand, passionate novels of poverty and self-discovery. Steinbeck revealed the ugly underbelly of the laboring masses and racial strife in the U.S. at the time.

Ocampo explains that some 35,000 Filipino workers had come to the U.S. to earn money. This was well before the term “OFW” was even invented, around 1930. Most worked in agriculture. Most were young males. They were not allowed to bring spouses and, at that time, interracial liaisons were deeply disliked. That was the morality of the time. Mixed race involvements are sinful.

In our modern time, we tend not to think that way. Some are still tied to prejudice, but most have broken free. A person is a person, no matter the race, age, sexual orientation, or physical handicap. Or even religion, for that matter.

Well, the problem with the morality of Steinbeck’s era was that Filipinos, males with normal drives, would get involved with white women. So the harsh judgment that came down on them was that Filipinos, as a people, were morally deficient. Bad people you didn’t want to associate with.

“No. No. NO!” we yell today.

Today we recognize that the morality screen itself was deficient. Americans in 1930 were breathing bad air. Filipino workers were just doing what any male would do in the circumstance. Seek companionship.

That switch in perspective – that it is the MORALITY that is wrong, not the deeds – allowed me to read about some of the Left’s protests on Independence Day with some wry amusement. The Left organizations took the holiday occasion to protest both China and the U.S. in separate rallies. China was criticized for occupying Philippine seas and the U.S. was criticized for infringing on Philippine sovereignty via the enhanced visitation agreement. But the main object of criticism was Philippine government for not standing up to either.

Well, to me, Independence Day is a chance to celebrate the whole of the nation, the entire package. It is an uplifting moment when we all come together, thankful that we belong to us. Thankful that we are who we are. In the U.S., we have parades and picnics in the park and send fireworks into the sky to celebrate. There aren’t too many democrats or republicans on Independence Day, just Americans.

But that is not true for the Left. Not in the Philippines.

They take this day of unity and appreciation and yank it inside out. They use it as a springboard to rip at the standing government. To try to take it down. To put it in a box where China infringing on Philippine space is wrong – and leadership is to blame – but trying to do anything practical about it is also wrong – and leadership is to blame.

You see, they can do this because they have no real responsibility for anything at all, unable to command much allegiance except from the idealistic fringe.

So their idea of celebration of Independence Day is to tear the nation down.

Is that not amusing?

We can use this same inversion analysis to look at the values imposed upon the secular nation by the Catholic Church. Is divorce wrong, or is the institution that imposes the morality wrong?

Here is a hint.

The Philippines is the last nation in the world to recognize that matrimonial bondage is cruel.

I rather think that when we examine issues, it is helpful to look both at the obvious, and it’s inverse or reflection.

It is helpful to look at the space surrounding an object. It’s context. It’s richer meaning.


23 Responses to “Looking at values inside out, or why the Left has it all wrong”
  1. Lil says:

    Joe, I had the pleasure of engaging with a Filipino Leftist and an American Pacifist libertarian this past week. Both as thick as cinder blocks.

    • Joe America says:

      Ahahaha, I’m glad you found the pleasure in it. I would suggest using the Filipino term for cinderblocks, though, which is “hollowblocks”. There is something missing in idealism that operates wholly apart from pragmatism. Thick as a brick with a hole in the middle.

      • Lil says:

        Well, the Pinoy kept complaining about there being “American apologists”, the Kano kept complaining about being over-taxed and shot at since time immemorial because of cons and neo-cons. lol. lol.

        • Joe America says:

          Ah yes, cons and neo cons, now that is a blog worth writing . . . wait! Wait! I think I have one in the hopper about American extremists! I think a truly open mind does not allow itself to get trapped into endorsing ideologies that bind, but remains open to situations and variances and exceptions. If people try to attach a label to me, I am likely to make sure it gets ripped off mighty fine quick. Don’t put me in a bucket that someone else defines. Especially one where the occupants run around shouting commie babble from the 1950’s. I don’t even like the label independent. The one that works best for me is just plain Joe. Then we can talk openly about anything.

  2. pussyfooter says:

    Thanks for another wonderfully–and, in these days of social media fiestas, refreshingly–insightful piece. In my weary middle-class only-somewhat-Leftish so-called-elitista (called by whom, you may well guess) heart of hearts, I particularly appreciated this statement: “they can do this because they have no real responsibility for anything at all, unable to command much allegiance except from the idealistic fringe.”

    Too many Pinoys love to be politicians, i.e. demagogues; hardly any are so stupid as to want to be statesmen (rather, statespersons in 21st-century parlance I suppose). We (yes, we) shot Rizal, yesterday’s birthday boy; we will do so again. And again. And again.

  3. Geng says:

    I, too, have a different view of the independence that the nation celebrates every year. That the term has a hollow meaning because Emilio Aguinaldo conspired with the mestizos and/or pure blood Spanish to retain ownership of the land they grabbed. Apolinario Mabini;s original plan was to take back those lands and distribute it to the natives. They parted ways acrimoniously so the status quo was retained when Aguinaldo became president.
    Corruption began even then because Aguinaldo the revolutionary general became Don Emilio Aguinaldo. It’s not hard to imagine how he acquired the title!

    • Joe America says:

      Yep, Aguinaldo, the first of the Filipino gold diggers and favor barons. Admiral Dewey didn’t think much of his values. Some of the current Senators apparently share them, I am sad to report.

  4. Geng says:

    And Bong Revilla could be a descendant because blood ties run deep even to relatives to the nth degree!

  5. sonny says:

    “We can use this same inversion analysis to look at the values imposed upon the secular nation by the Catholic Church. Is divorce wrong, or is the institution that imposes the morality wrong?

    Here is a hint.

    The Philippines is the last nation in the world to recognize that matrimonial bondage is cruel.

    I rather think that when we examine issues, it is helpful to look both at the obvious, and it’s inverse or reflection.

    It is helpful to look at the space surrounding an object. It’s context. It’s richer meaning.”

    Joe, I suggest that these points be framed within concrete and specific cases and submitted for definition, clarification and ultimately, resolution in a qualified forum, i.e. a marriage tribunal with appropriate agents. In this manner there is no reservation as to the complete operative context of each case. In other words, rational principles and processes are brought to bear on to productive and meaningful conclusions for the searching couple.

    • sonny says:

      Here’s a starter link to the question of a Catholic relief to a “cruel matrimonial bondage”


      • Joe America says:

        All the best intentions have no value if, in practice, the judge is blind to evidence or wants a payment to render “proper justice”. I have to recuse myself from this discussion, perhaps. I am aware of a case that was filed with all the necessary testimony and evidence, psychologist testimony as to why the spouse hoarded money and did not support his kid, adultery, drug usage, abuse, extortion, abandonment . . . annulment denied. Man, if two adults agree the marriage is not good, let them out of the contract. It is very rational.

        • macspeed says:

          You are very right, in Islam, divorce is allowed if both parties are not really compatible with each other, a lot of disagreement and opposite views will only bring sadness to children

    • Joe America says:

      That would be much better than today’s court system and processes that do not allow everyday people the same rights as Kris Aquino. But the ground rules have to be reasonable, too. Proving that one’s spouse was psychologically deranged at the time of marriage is not easy. It is easier to file a doctor’s report and photos showing an abused spouse, or to verify that adultery is being committed, or to show that a father has left town and stopped supporting his kids.

  6. JM says:

    A leftist is like a religious fanatic that believe earth is less than 10,000 years old. It doesn’t matter how logical your arguments are, or how much evidence you present. They won’t change their minds. I think I’ve read a yahoo article that their brains are just wired differently. I really don’t care if they want to commit suicide as long as they don’t take the whole nation with them.

    I think I’ve read the article about the Filipinos working in the US in the 1930s. I believe there was also violence/riot involved. It annoyed me a bit when I saw Americans with Filipinas after reading that article. I got over it though. I reminded myself not to be bothered by worthless notions. Past is past. However, while It definitely toned down, racism and colonial mentality still exist.

    • Joe America says:

      Nice perspectives, JM. Yes, biases, or accepted stereotypes, are here every day. As is the colonial holier than thou mentality. I properly get called on my preconceptions from time to time (manuel buencamino is my mentor in this regard, heh), and it takes some effort to let go of those preconceptions.

  7. Janice says:

    The biggest problem with the Philippine left is that they are merely “leftist” for the sake of demonizing every administration that does not become “buddies” with them. Akbayan used to hella noisy, extremely anti-US but when Aquino made them an “ally”, it’s usually their archrival “Bayan” that is noisy. Bayan was also very noisy regarding Arroyo’s joint exploration with China and Vietnam but now that the Philippines have been facing aggressive incursions, they are awkwardly silent. The one time I remember them going to a protest in front of the Chinese consulate was to give Akbayan a bad name.

    The Philippine left has NO solid principle and goal. They are hardly for progress, they are merely aiming to take control of the national government. They don’t differ much from the right which does not know how to compromise for the sake of the greater good.

    And TBH, it’s not limited to the Philippines. This is also what I see when it comes to the leftists and rightists in the US. Gone are the days of the old wise people. It’s now all about throwing $hitz at each other, sadly

    Say, I am glad that Gabriela is pro RH and pro divorce but who could forget that they were the ones who cradled and pressured “Nicole” to lie to sensationalize the Subic case? The left can offer some perspective on issues however, the way they behave is just as terrible as the extreme right.

    • Joe America says:

      Wonderful characterization. Perfect, both for the loud, critical, destructive elements in the US and Philippines. Where oh where have the statesmen gone? Those who summoned up respect for opponents? Who were for building the nation rather than ripping out its foundations for political gain?

  8. manuel buencamino says:

    They percieve reality through the fog of ideology

  9. manuel buencamino says:

    Ideology is okay until it runs smack into reality or as Mike Tyson once said, we all have a plan until we get punched in the face.

  10. josephivo says:

    The left is a broad definition, from extreme Maoists, all kind of Marxists to moderate socialist, to people interested in anything more than money. For some of us there is more in the world than money and the power of the powerful (liberalism). Although there is strong drive to put monetary value on things like care, proud, esthetics… some still tend to resist the concept that everything should have a price; that solidarity is of another order than philanthropy; that real wealth has no such as family, health, a sunset…

    Unfortunately those people do not have the millions an effective media campaign requires, that’s why they try to piggyback on other media events. Are they to blame for that? Sometimes, often not, regardless there deviating opinions.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, that’s true. I was referring specifically to the Philippine political groups sponsoring protest rallies on Independence day. It didn’t seem like a very patriotic or unifying celebration, although they would argue otherwise. Ideologies contain a wide range of rationalizations.

      Economic necessity drives work that for many builds discretionary spending and that, I suppose, is the measure of a person’s principles. There are all kinds of personal decisions made in that regard, and to shift the general tendencies does indeed require effective media and organization. Most of us work hard to get to that point and feel we have earned the right to use our discretionary funds as we choose. Not many choose art or philanthropy. They prefer a nice dinner at the beach maybe.

      Labels are sometimes overworked.

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