Enter the New Year, on hope, superstition and maybe a prayer
By Joe America
Best wishes to all for the New Year. Resolutions are important, I think. I hope that you will strive for high values based on knowledge, and will have the discipline to align your acts with your values. If you do that, it will be hard for anyone to expect any more from you, and at the end of 2017, you will be able to reflect back with great satisfaction on how well you lived during the year.
Let’s look at the Philippines to see where we stand.
We have a majority of Filipinos who anchor their acts on what I would call emotional superstition, which supplants knowledge with rumor and fear and needs and finds satisfaction in exacting revenge against those believed to be responsible for their struggles. They see tearing down convention as a form of building, and they see a new set of entitled as change if their chosen idols say it is so. They are satisfied with the way things are going in the Philippines, and believe the killings are proper to rid the nation of crime and drugs. They don’t relate to the dead as being their brothers and sisters, but as lesser beings. Bugs, I suppose. If most of this majority are Christians, understand that their Christianity is just another form of superstition, to be applied when necessary; it is not a life’s commitment.
We have a small section of the population who anchor their acts on Western values, or democratic ideals of freedom and earnest work, and who live by real Christian values of compassion and honesty. They are highly upset at the direction, decisions, and deeds of their National Government. They pray a lot, but understand God works in mysterious ways.
We have another small section of the population, many of whom control the nation, who believe in traditional Philippine values of power and favor. To Western eyes, they are immoral and unethical, and corrupt for being so. But to others in their class, they are admired because they succeed in rising above the rest. So they are not immoral or unethical. The ideals of human rights, which grant all individuals equality, do not apply, because they genuinely believe they are better people than those with less power and/or wealth. The lowest of the low, by declaration, are the Filipino vermin who do drugs. These powerful leaders are institutionalized bigots, and that is why things have not changed much in 125 years. We learned this from wise and well-read Society contributor Irineo B. R. Salazar when he brought us slice of Dr. Jose Rizal’s view of things. Irineo said:
I wrote this in July, and I often hate being right (What is destroyed?)
[What is destroyed?] says Simoun to Basilio in Rizal’s El Filibusterismo – “Evil, suffering, miserable weeds that will be replaced by healthy grain. I would call it creation, production, giving life” to justify killing those against his revolution. When Simoun later has taken poison to not fall into the hands of the Spanish alive, Filipino priest Padre Florentino tells him: “we must win our freedom by deserving it, by improving the mind and enhancing the dignity of the individual”. . .
but the interesting part is: “. . . as long as we see our countrymen feel privately ashamed, hearing the growl of their rebelling and protesting conscience, while in public they keep silent and even join the oppressor in mocking the oppressed; as long as we see them wrapping themselves up in their selfishness and praising with forced smiles the most despicable acts, begging with their eyes for a share of the booty, why give them independence?”. . .”if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow”.
Rizal’s El Filibusterismo was originally published in 1891.
And in 2017, Filipinos remain slaves to the culture of power and favor. This is no democracy, in its ideal sense. There is no freedom. No equality. No prosperity.
President Duterte is the “Great Appeaser”, who has ceded Filipino sea resources to the Chinese and certain privileges and authority to former rebels, now welcomed into government. He has extracted the Philippines from the overbearing presence of America, and if the nation is militarily and economically weaker for it, at least there is peace, and new opportunities looking toward China. Although we have peace, hooray, we also have lots of bombings and killings and animosity and are endlessly on the cusp of martial law. If you find this strange, you are not unlike me. Fortunately, Filipino emotional superstition grants us wide latitude to make up our own truths so we are always right, no matter what we think.
The economy is still chugging along well, rather like the Titanic. We have the sense that there is an iceberg in the fog up ahead, but no matter how carefully we peer, we can’t see what is going to happen. It could be nothing, and the economy will swallow back the political and social burps and thrive, or it could be a humongous berg, in which case, the Philippines will crash into angry conflict. Those with the flexibility to exit are out buying their tickets or life-boats or investing in the US. Hahaha. Like me.
Education is what it has always been, a regimented, authoritarian method of teaching children how to obey and recite what they are told, and to cheat to get ahead. If you find this strange, that there is little focus on inspiring individual creative thought or critical analysis . . . at least it fits with the culture of emotional superstition. Discipline means doing what you are told, not adhering to principles. Unity means doing what you are told, not finding your mind, heart, and soul committed to the well-being of the nation.
The local governments are the same amalgamation of murderous, corrupt (in Western terms), incompetent power mongers as always, with a smattering of honest, earnest, capable leaders. Locals worship the leaders and grant them great respect.
The national government is a jumble of braggadocio hidden behind an enormous mask of bluster, and a machine of propaganda, and all the FOIs in the world will not reveal the truth about what is happening. I suspect that management of the peoples’ affairs is crumbling into the kind of incompetence associated with the methods of power and favor, which do not really focus on achievement in anything but individual terms. If the entitled thrive while the rest suffer, hey, that’s the way it is . . . in 2017, as it was in 1891.
Have a great year, roll with the tide, understand that talking is sometimes a form of silence; real work may be needed. Be kind, and be well . . .