Carvajal: Inhuman and immoral

Break Point

A German friend, with whom I share a fascination with the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, tells me the Philippine socio-economic situation is hopeless because Filipinos, by Kant’s definition of it, are immature. (For Kant, a mature person is one who trusts her/his reason and is guided by it, not by anybody, not by anything else. As enlightened by reason, a mature person does to others only what would also be right for others to do to her/him. (Sounds familiar?) Above all Kant maintains that a person should always be treated as an end and never a means. Thus, a mature person neither uses others nor allows her/himself to be used.)

I want to deny his indictment, but soon my mind steps over my emotion. Our grave social ills cannot be blamed solely on immature leaders who use Filipinos to attain their selfish ends. Blame must also be heaped on an equally immature people who allow themselves to be used as means to their leaders’ ends.

Our colonial culture is no breeding ground of enlightenment by reason, of Kantian maturity. Our reflex coping mechanism with life’s challenges is to accept our reality as God’s will. Thinking critically is frowned on and hardly anybody entertains the possibility it’s the will of society’s elite, not God’s, that half the population live in the jagged edges of Philippine society. Without critical thinking “wala tay mahimo” is all we can say of our dire situation.

At home, children must not speak up to parents and elders. The latter decide on the college courses, the jobs and the spouses their children take. The unwritten law of success is as simple as subscribing without thinking to one’s parents’ or elders’ beliefs and wishes.

In school, the one sure way to get a passing grade is to spit out to the teacher at exam time what she/he asked to be memorized in class. Our basic education dictates ready-made answers to life’s questions. Students are not taught to ask the right questions and how to figure out the answers themselves.

In Church, Spanish friars seemed to have successfully inculcated among Catholics, which most Filipinos are, that their poverty is God’s will. This I believe is why people are afraid to push back on their immature leaders. This also explains why the organizational Church is doing next to nothing to bring about structural changes towards justice and equity in society.

It follows that in government, we allow ourselves to be led by the nose by officials who use us by buying our votes to get to their lucrative positions from where they only serve their own interests. But we are equally to blame for thinking nothing of allowing ourselves to be used by them.

A British friend disagrees. She believes Filipinos have their unique way of pushing back. That I’d like to believe. In any case, push back we must, peacefully and legally I must hasten to add. We will be a hopeless case if we continue to allow our leaders to use us for their selfish ends. More than immature, it is inhuman and immoral of them and of us.


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