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Archive for April, 2014

National and Personal Insecurity

April 27, 2014 2 comments

I read an interesting blog post the other day, which was more or less a rant and reaction to how insecure we could be as a people over trivial matters.  This all started because some lady blogged about how bad Filipino food is; it seems a lot of people went crazy over the comments of some random person who isn’t a real food authority anyway.  Beyond that, our reaction as a people says something about the seemingly deep-seated insecurity that we have in our psyches.

The Uncultured: On Filipino Cuisine, Racism, and Bloggers Who Buy Longganisa from 7/11

Maybe, the Philippines isn’t perfect and neither are her people.

Maybe the reason so many of us jump to murder whenever a real foreigner criticizes us and our own, is that far from feeling indignation, we’re all actually a little guilty. We act like the criticism, even if it’s unfounded, is a dirty secret we don’t want to get out. We’re all cheating spouses who, once questioned why our boxers or panties have pink lipstick stains on them, defend ourselves by calling the other partner a cheater. It’s as if, in our deepest heart of hearts, we have something to hide. That maybe, the Philippines isn’t perfect and neither are her people. The truth is, though, everyone already knows that. It’s futile to keep up the act, we’re really not fooling anyone. Come on, we’re the country of which two out of its last three presidents have been arrested and whose youth are fleeing the nation in droves for better opportunities elsewhere.

On the risk of sounding like a Disney movie, I really believe our priority as a people should be learning to love ourselves first. Stop accepting all the messed up stuff about our nation, from falling buses to comicbook-level evil politicians, as being the status quo and start making an effort to change them. We really need to be hopeful, to be optimistic again. Then, maybe, in the future, whenever some sad little girl proudly declares she’d rather die of starvation than have to suffer through the grotesque horror that is Filipino cuisine, we can all just smile, laugh, and move on. If nothing else, it will do wonders for the collective blood pressure of our entire nation.

I’ve given our sense of insecurity some thought.  I feel the reasons why we would be insecure about anything apply not just as a collective group but as individuals, too.  And speaking from my own experience at least, I know such is true.

What are the possible reasons for being insecure?

  1. We don’t have the truth.  The truth is still the truth even if no one believes it and prefers to believe a lie instead.  When the truth is exposed we become defensive when it runs contrary to what we preach and how we live, sometimes still stubbornly clinging to our false beliefs and defending it to the death even if it has proven to be false.  And I think this happens when we’ve invested too much of ourselves in the lie, for whatever reason, to accept anything else.
  2. We’re not confident in our own beliefs or abilities because there were instances when reality proved contrary to what we want to believe is true.  We might have had certain assumptions on how the world is supposed to work, but reality has proven otherwise, and so we’re not so sure anymore.
  3. We have low self-esteem in our identity as individuals and as a people.  The best example of this is how we find relations to international celebrities that can boost our esteem; when there is even a hint that an international celebrity has a bit of our lineage, we trump it up.  Such is the case for some personalities like Jessica Sanchez, Rob Schneider and Bruno Mars.  Per our local celebrities, we give them acclaim partly because they have a bit of foreign blood in their own lineage; it’s rare that we see a “pure Filipino” among our actors and actresses and other personalities.  We seek to highlight the “foreign heritage” and highlight that in our advertisements, as if they truly represent the masses.  We still have a strong sense of colonial mentality expressed in another way; it’s sad to see that we are our own racists!

I think a good indication of being insecure is when we try to bring down other people, primarily to boost our own ego.  We label them whatever to make ourselves feel like they’re not that highly regarded anyway, or they’re also at our level at the very least.

Another possible sign of insecurity is lack of humility.  It’s important to have a sense of pride.  But there is such a thing as too much pride to the point of arrogance, refusing to recognize that we don’t have a monopoly of the truth and rejecting the notion that other people could also be right, that we actually have defects and weaknesses because we’re also not perfect.  If we really have the truth by our side then it will speak for itself; we don’t need to butcher our dogma in the faces of those who have a dissenting opinion.  Unfortunately instead of dialogue, we become the mob and out-shout and shoot down any opposition.

Provided that we have the truth by our side, we can be secure with ourselves regardless of what other people think of us.  We will not be able to please everybody, and so we should take any criticism that’s’ hurled at us in the right perspective.  After all, at the end of the day the truth shall always prevail.  For all we know, the other party is the one that’s insecure about his particular beliefs, and so is spilling his vitriol in his defense.

That being said, we need to be humble enough to recognize that we don’t know everything.  We could also be wrong and others could actually know better.  We must remain open to the possibility that there is something about us that could actually be better, and so we ought to take the feedback and use it constructively to become better as individuals and as a nation.

Rather than be insecure about something, let’s recognize the insecurity and use it as a point for further reflection and improvement, and act accordingly.

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Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Common Sense and Doing the Right Thing

April 27, 2014 Leave a comment

There is supposedly no such thing as “common sense” because everybody perceives the world differently, shaped by the particular context in which we were raised and exposed. What seems like “common sense” to one person isn’t necessarily and literally “common sense” to another person.

Why We’re Terrible Predictors (excerpt)

We can agree that something is common sense as long as we share the same set of assumptions. I think people really don’t understand how much of a problem this is, because they assume that what they think is common sense is right.

So common sense is actually very good for resolving everyday situations, where everyone shares the same set of assumptions. The problem is that it feels so effective to us in these circumstances that we’re tempted to use it to make decisions and plans and predictions about situations that are not everyday situations. We want to use it to make decisions that are about people who are very different from us, who are interacting with each other in complex ways over extended intervals of time.

So common sense is very adaptive for certain situations but maladaptive for others, and we don’t understand the distinction?  Right. The problem is that when thinking about a very large-scale, abstract problem, what we tend to do is reduce it down to a single scenario…

In this day and age it seems like a big deal if someone is honest, exhibits integrity, or does something good in general.  We find ourselves putting these people on a pedestal, or something.

There’s a line of thinking that states that doing good and being good should be default expected behavior – “common sense.”  That being said it’s unnecessary to praise people who do such expected behavior.

However a reality of life is that doing the right thing is never easy.  In fact sometimes it’s not easy precisely because it’s the right thing, if the “right thing” means losing something on your end or causing an inconvenience that could have otherwise been avoided by remaining silent or doing nothing.  If it were easy to do the right thing then we wouldn’t be praising people and labeling them as “heroes” for doing such expected good things.

It’s not easy doing good and being good.  It’s thus important to be reminded of this virtue, and it helps a lot to see this in the people we know in our life that best exemplify that.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Conflict and Pain are Necessary

April 19, 2014 3 comments

It’s ironic that the absence of conflict and pain makes life boring and less meaningful.

It seems all the art, music, literature, science, technology, and innovation, and love, inspiration, compassion, mercy, generosity, and sacrifice, are driven by the passion and drama that comes from the conflicts and pains we encounter in daily life.

Conflict can bring hatred, fear, death and despair, but it can also bring forth so much joy, courage, life and hope; pain needs to be felt, for without it we could not know and appreciate joy.

Pray for the grace and wisdom to face conflict where and when it makes sense rather than avoid it all the time, because it is the necessary evil that makes things happen.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Freedom Has Consequences

April 19, 2014 1 comment

Freedom has never been an absolute right.

For example, freedom of speech is not your exclusive right.  You can say whatever the hell you want to say, and I can either ignore you completely or criticize you for it to my heart’s content.  And granted that what I have to say may offend you, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’re right, too; it could be that you’re just too sensitive.

We are free to make decisions, even if those decisions lead to evil.  However we are not free from the consequences of the evil we decide to do, for freedom have its corresponding responsibilities – and accountability.

You have the freedom to say what you want and do what you want.  But that doesn’t mean anyone has to listen to you, and agree to, consent with, or support you so that you can continue your actions.  There is no protection from any criticism or consequences of what you say or do.  When people fight back they’re not taking away your freedom; they’re exercising the same freedom and right that you use and abuse.

A life lived without consequences have no deep meaning.  You will not need to be deliberate in thought, word, decision and action, because anything is possible for someone who does not have a conscience and who will not have to suffer any repercussions for it.  However this makes you a slave to every whim of your emotions and desires, and ironically it’s because of this that you have no true freedom.

You have free will, so use it wisely; don’t leave the decision-making of your life to someone else.  Be warned that anything is possible for the person who doesn’t have to do it, or suffer the consequences of it.  Do not relinquish your freedom to someone else.

Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows, because the one who sows for his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows for the spirit will reap eternal life from the spirit. Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.  (Galatians 6:7 – 10)

Freedom has consequences.  What you choose to do with your freedom, for good or evil, will determine the consequences you will receive as a result of what you do.  Choose wisely and choose to always do good for goodness is always rewarded with blessings.  Choose foolishly, and be responsible enough to fix your mess.

 

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

The Value of Dissent

April 19, 2014 Leave a comment

Sometimes it can be very irritating when people don’t agree with your point of view.  One would have preferred that people will just comply; either that or you would cede your own position at worst, if only to avoid any further escalation of tension.  The suppression of dissent seems like a desirable political form of action to take so that things just happen your way.

Having a one-track mind and no one to challenge it can be detrimental because at the very least it closes-off the possibility of understanding your decision and the situation better.

The following things can happen:

  • You discover that you’re wrong.  If those who oppose you are actually closer to the action than you are then they would know better.  You can thus change course to something that makes more sense, avoiding potentially disastrous consequences had you continued with your current trajectory.  This is also a mark of humility, recognizing that, really, you don’t know everything and would be willing to give way to those who actually know better.  Ultimately everyone wins in this scenario.
  • You’re still right, but the other party has a much better idea than the one you had.  You have the opportunity to adapt and capitalize on this new idea, going in a better and more advantageous direction.  If people just shut up then you wouldn’t have known any better and taken advantage of a better, or at least less painful, approach.
  • You’re still right, and the challenge raised through dissent has served as a “hostile witness” of sorts that validates your decision, further strengthening your position on the matter at hand.

How you win in life also matters.  If you silence the opposition then your position is not won through its own merits but by force and arrogance.  And it’s not worth suffering for one’s arrogance; this will ultimately be the death of you.

For all you know, the decisions and actions you make are the insanity that people rally against.  And if only you’d stop and listen a bit, perhaps you’ll even find some sense in the opposition you encounter.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Be Yourself and Stand By Your Principles

April 13, 2014 3 comments

It sometimes feels like we spend our whole lives trying to fit in and blend with the crowd in order to be accepted.  However at the end of the day it’s our individuality that defines who we are and, for better or worse, necessarily sets us apart from everyone else.  In the history of the world there was never anyone like you in the past, there is no one like you right now, and there will never be another one like you in the future.  Do not try to be somebody you are not.  Never forget that you are unique; celebrate the uniqueness that is you.

Some wise words have been said about one’s individuality:

  • “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss
  • “Everyone tells you what to do and what’s good for you.  They don’t want you to find your own answers.  They want you to believe theirs.” – Socrates
  • “You don’t have to defend or explain your decisions to anyone.  It’s your life.  Live it without apologies.” – Mandy Hale
  • “Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings and emotions.” – Will Smith

If I may, I’d like to paraphrase and consolidate some words of wisdom credited to the anonymity of the common man, too:

  • In a world full of people expecting something from us, remember the most important person you have to please is yourself.  And no matter how good a person you are there will always be someone criticizing you.
  • Never explain yourself to anyone.  Because the person who likes you doesn’t need it, and the person who dislikes you won’t believe it.  Besides, as it has been said, a lion never loses sleep over the opinions of sheep.  Also, life is not about who’s real to your face, it’s about who’s real behind your back.
  • It’s not who you are that’s holding you back, it’s who you think you’re not.  Be who you are, not who the world wants you to be.  You will never influence the world by trying to be like it.
  • If you will not stand for something then you will fall for anything.

Closely related to your identity are the principles by which your life will either stand or fall.

Don’t give up on your principles too easily.  Unless there is glaring proof on the contrary, stand by what you believe even in the midst of persecution, which is especially to be expected if you stand on the side of God, choosing to continue to please Him rather than get the approval of your fellow man.

Strive to be consistent with who you are and what you believe.  In a world where we’re expected to comply with the principles of the noisy mob, being who you are and upholding traditional values that are derided by the world is literally the most counter-cultural thing we could ever do.

The fight we put up to defend what we stand for defines and upholds who we are.  This is not a case of just being defensive or overly-sensitive to the reproach of the mob.  In this world, no one else will defend us except ourselves.  This is especially true in the face of persecution for our identity and beliefs.

This world will test your character and push you to the limit.  For the love of God and for the sake of your identity, do not give up.  Fight!  It will be a difficult fight, but it’s one that’s absolutely necessary.  You might find yourself down at times but never out of the fight.

Last but never the least don’t give up on God too easily, too.  You are never alone in facing the challenges of life.  He will give you the strength to carry on.  In the end, everything will be alright.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Tactics in Life: Adapt to Change

April 6, 2014 7 comments

To be successful in life it’s crucial to be quick and nimble to adapt to change.  It can sometimes feel like there’s no sense of stability in a situation when things are constantly changing.  However if a situation or decision no longer makes sense then it’s important to quickly change and adapt to fit the new reality and needs of the situation.

Change should add value.  So if a change will not likely be valuable then it’s still best to stick to the plan already formulated.  However be open to adapt to new possibilities as well, if it looks like this particular change will do just that.  Being too rigid and remaining fixed on a set course of action when it no longer makes sense is stubborn and useless.  Take a calculated risk if there’s a chance changing course will be for the better.

Refuse to be stagnant.  There’s value in making changes to adapt and take advantage of better opportunities as such present themselves – or are created by your decisions that made such happen.  The last thing you want is miss an opportunity to make your situation so much better than it currently is.

Adapt to change – oftentimes doing so is absolutely necessary in order for you to survive, conquer your fears, move forward, and thrive in this world.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy