by Armando Ang
Long time ago, in the forum, I have pointed out many times that the lifestyle of the rich & poor will always be entwined in the fabric of the society.
Of course Miriam is right, upsetting and grating, but essentially correct. If anything she is the only one who gutsily verbalised and recognised the reality of a democracy, not only in the Philippines but in a lot of countries in the world as well. What she said is a very smart, though crude, assessment of the political knowledge of the majority of the Filipinos. Show me a voter who voted with the common good in mind and I’ll show you a pig that can fly. People’s vote are determined by their prejudices and selfishness, this is part and parcel of democracy in the modern times. This is why candidates during election times always target populist issues, promote personalities unashamedly and use popular marketing tools to get themselves elected. The Filipinos have no monopoly of this malaise, politicians all over the world are all populist during elections, pandering to the lowest common denominator of the electorate. My point being, it is the nature of elections in a democracy.
So how come it works in other countries and not the Philippines? Quite obvious actually. Politicians of progressive countries may use populist tactics to get elected but this does not detract from the fact that they are mostly intelligent, visionary and have a genuine desire to do good for their people.
What about the Philippines? Well, the Philippines is probably the only country in the world where the elected politicians are as stupid, if not more so, than the stupid voters that regularly elect them. And don’t argue that Marcos is intelligent, he is definitely stupid. Any intelligent person would not squander an opportunity to be a great leader, nor plunder and murder with blatant disregard of for the people he was meant to protect. The trouble with the Filipinos is that they cannot tell the difference between rat cunning and intelligence, believing that they are one and the same. With few exceptions, wasn’t the impeachment process an eye opener of how many stupid senators and congressmen are elected in the country. There would be more in local governments if anyone bothered to look. Stupidity is the great leveller, you may not think you are but if you hang around stupid people most of the time, you’ll like it as it is less taxing to be stupid than smart and in the end you’ll find your comfort zone in being stupid.
Stupidity is an equal opportunity affliction which affects rich and poor alike. Having a degree is no guarantee of not being stupid. One is certainly stupid if they are gratified to be the only intelligent one in a sea of ignorant people. One is certainly stupid if one’s objective in acquiring knowledge is to lord it over the less knowledgable. Stupidity is a state of mind and morality, not lack of academic qualifications. In the Philippine context, stupidity is practised as the unwillingness of an individual or a group to share the benefit of intelligence and education with poor people to produce a common good. If the Filipinos are stupid, it is because those who are not are too selfish and too stupid to share their knowledge around for everyone’s benefit.
You don’t agree? Tell me why a poor and frail Filipina can have the guts to be rude to the President while yelling “Erap pa rin”. Tell me why the Marcoses and eraptors are still free. Tell me why Paranaque voters are so proud of their mayor because he was seen in the middle of a busy intersection directing traffic? Tell me why the people are so preoccupied with the President’s political appointments? Tell me why the GMA administration can get away with not presenting to the people any strategic plan for the economy, health, education, etc? Tell me why the “intelligent” people are not taking her to task about this? Understand that these little but ever present pockets of stupidity in the country affect every Filipinos, rich and poor, young and old, local and overseas. Prove that I lie.
And now the intelligentsia is wailing and screaming that there is a lot of stupid people in the country. Such hubris, the stupidity of the Filipinos is only an issue because it is now cramping the lifestyle of the “chosen” few in the Filipino society, it is not because of a sudden discovery of a well of compassion for the poor. This “chosen few” still couldn’t care less for the poor and wouldn’t know what genuine poverty is like if it hit them in the face, and would be as ready to spit on the faces of the poor than empasize with their lot in life. Prove that I lie.
“Gaano katanga ang mga Pilipino?” Is there a more obvious display of stupidity than asking this question now! I mean, did they just find out about this? This has been the situation in the country since the birth of the republic. This belated discovery is only coming out now because the insidious effect of the poverty is finally catching up with everyone. Now we all know that everyone is equally vulnerable from the treacherous effect of poverty and the ignorance of the great unwashed. Again, prove that I lie.
The fact of the matter is the people who are now tearing their hair out complaining that the Filipinos are stupid are even more stupid than the average stupid Filipino. It has come to the point that the rich and the educated are even more stupid than the poor stupid people. How else can these people believe that they can insulate themselves from their stupid and poor brethren? How else can they believe that they can have clean air and water to themselves by putting up walls and security guards in their subdivisions? How else can they believe that the poverty of their fellow Filipinos would not affect them? How else can they believe that the two EDSAs are proof of the greatness of the Filipino when it is quite obvious that they are just proof that they can produce a Marcos and an Erap? Look in the mirror and prove that I lie.
What now that stupidity is a born again issue? It is an issue but it does not only concern the poor as much as it concerns everyone equally. The poor are not stupid, they are ignorant, and this is because they have very limited options in their lives. The stupid ones are those who are able to do something but decided to do nothing. They are the people who make poverty disappear by closing their eyes and pretending it has nothing to do with them. They are the people with money, with education, with power and authority who can make a difference in the plight of the poor people but are too selfish and insensitive to do anything to alleviate the effects of poverty. Now justice is being done, the years of uncaring attitude towards the poor have given everyone a present where the future is equally gloomy for everyone to share equally.
At least the poor majority has an excuse for being stupid, they are poor. What about the rest of us, what is our excuse?