Crab mentality-A A +A
Sunday, July 29, 2012
WE HAVE places for indulging our crustacean craving. The Grab-A-Crab in General Santos and Ocean's Best in Surigao City, for instance, are two of the restaurants I know where mouthwatering crabs literally clasp at your taste buds for a second or third helping. But there's a darker side to this 10-legged animal that can be found in all places, and it’s driven by envy: crab mentality.
Envy is as old as time. Even Alexander the Great, a historical figure, envied Hercules, who existed only in the pages of Greek Mythology. The desire to eclipse the extraordinary feats of others has propelled men like Alexander to the greatest heights of power. In the case of the Macedonian king, however, the envy-fueled exploits was borne of mythical inspiration; Alexander didn't have to slay the nonexistent Hercules to build an empire that extended to India.
At a young age, I learned that I may envy others but I need not step on corpses on my way to the platform. I was 14 and didn't know a thing about journalism when I started getting envious of seniors who traveled to other Philippine cities to compete at schools press conferences. It wasn't even about some long-term life ambition -- at that age, you just wanted to travel and see places. Nevertheless, I set myself at acquiring the skills needed to impress the teachers handling the school paper. The next school year, I saw myself competing in the regional level at press conferences, and subsequently in the national level.
Envy is good -- only if it shows your weaknesses in relation to others, and then compels you to do something to improve your life without taking a toll on someone. When it does, you know right then that the seemingly innocent feeling of resentment at another's perceived superior standing has metamorphosed into the vicious form of crab mentality. We never lacked illustrations of crab mentality in this country: we see these everyday in politics, in showbiz, in our community, even in our churches. Hardly anyone on TV today who tries to improve his/her standing does so without slaying someone's character. Even shampoo commercials take turn swiping at their rivals.
I once read an article describing crab mentality as a universal bug. It must be, but let's focus closer to home. As a reporter, I once covered an election of laymen vying to be representatives of their village to their church. No sooner did the priest announce the results than the charges of cheating fouled the otherwise immaculate air of the cathedral. It turned out that the village chairman had begrudged the loss of his wife's lineup to his political rival's, whom he could not obviously allow to hold such a pious position in their village. Embarrassed and hurt that even the Devil can ruin this sacred affair, the priest quashed the results and disqualified both the winners and the protesting party. That's one hallmark of crab mentality: if I can't get it, neither can you.
Even at home, subliminal traces of crab mentality exist.
"What's the name of the voluptuous neighbor again? I heard she drives a Lexus."
"Ah, the one who got cut open, and nipped and tucked in Japan and whose father is accused of car smuggling last year?"
We hate what crab mentality has done to this country. Perhaps it's time to look through the subtleties in which we contribute to this national ailment.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 29, 2012.