Almost every Filipino has his own take on what is wrong with the country today and has a prescription of solutions on how to solve them. Many are on the sane side of things while there are some who are closer to the fringe of extreme solutions. As an example, I have met more than a dozen people who believe that we must kill the old generation so that the new generation can have a fresh start at things. Views such as this, which adhere closely to the Pol Pot solution for curing a nation, show a dire lack of compassion, understanding of history and human nature. But it does highlight the extreme frustration many Filipinos feel about the state of our affairs as a nation.
For this article, I thought I’d write about a few of the explanations, excuses and analyses that try to explain why we are what we are. I will also explain why a lot of them are bunk and why it’s time to move out of this paradigm of victimhood that has stunted us. Here are some:
1. We are messed up because we were colonized for 400 years by Spain, 50 years by the Americans and four years by the Japanese.
The point being made here is that the colonial experience has left us confused, lacking in national self-esteem and character. I used to subscribe to this and even wore this excuse of colonial mentality on my sleeve. I realized soon enough that it was my sorry, futile attempt to feel good about feeling bad. It is so convenient to blame someone outside for our troubles. You don’t feel the need to be responsible. It is somebody’s fault and it is their duty to fix this. Meanwhile, we stupidly wallow in our victimhood.
When you look at other countries that were enslaved and colonized, many of them far worse than us, it is clear that by and large, practically all of them have gotten over their horrible colonial experience and have claimed back their future as independent, sovereign nations. The Koreans, Jews, Vietnamese, Chinese, Poles, etc. have stopped crying over spilled milk and have taken it upon themselves to get out of the psychological mire of being victimized and have moved forward. Many have become or are about to become economic giants and world players. Meanwhile, we use the excuse of being weak as to why we cannot get anything done for the national interest.
2. We should choose the leader who is the lesser evil.
Everyone is corrupt to some degree, and so we just have to choose the least corrupt. This kind of thinking exposes to me a very faulty criterion for choosing a leader. This kind of explains why and how we get people like GMA and Erap elected.
This kind of poverty thinking has kept us trapped in the situation we have been in for decades. For one thing, I believe that during the past elections, we have actually had candidates who ran for the office who were not corrupt. The problem is when we do see them, we believe that they do not have a chance at winning and so we lower our standards. The truth is, they are not winnable only because we do not consider them as viable candidates.
Now more than ever, we should get out of this kind of paradigm and put our efforts and resources into getting the best and most qualified, not the lesser evil, elected.
3. Change will not happen in my lifetime.
In the ‘60s, the IMF-WB came to the sad conclusion that Korea was hopelessly corrupt and had practically written off this nation as a failed state. But look at Korea now!
In the meantime, we have not only remained stuck but have actually slid further down the slippery slope. We are still refusing to see how our apathy, cynicism and wrong thinking have made us believe we are helpless against corruption and the oppressive socio-political structures that govern us. Like before, between change and the impossibility of it, we seem to continue to bet on the latter.
The truth is, we want progress, justice, and peace, but do not want it enough to sacrifice to get them. We expect the government to deliver it to us in exchange for the vote we cast. It will take more than just voting to get what we want.
The problem is we can’t seem to get out of personal interests and see that we have a greater duty to society to act and do what must be done. The politicians are always betting that we will not abandon our inertia and move out of our comfort zones and show up in rallies, or write letters, or disturb in any way our regular lives to express our disgust at the shenanigans they do.
But everything is really up to us. M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, liked to say that the greatest sin in the world is laziness. We all know what the problems are but are too lazy to do the work of analyzing and doing the work needed to solve them. It’s just too much trouble.
We are at a crossroads now.
We are supposed to have presidential elections in 2010. Who knows as of today whether the Gloria government will let that happen or not? But as a people, we know we want it. Simply put, we have to do the work of shaking this country and government and asserting our will to get what we want.
Of the candidates, it’s good to ask ourselves who has the real vision to get us out of this rut we are in and take us where we want to go as a nation. The even bigger question is, are we as a people really serious about recognizing and supporting real change when it presents itself? If we want change yet continue to think the same way that makes change impossible, aren’t we shooting ourselves in the head?
Will change happen in our lifetime then? Whether the answer is yes or no, it is entirely up to us.
No more excuses.