I couldn’t help but notice that after “happiness”and “hope” comes yet another catchword/phrase that Filipinos like to use when making excuses for their chronic poverty and lack of development. It’s called “simple life”.
How do these buzzwords fit into things? Why don’t we try using a few examples to illustrate?
Happiness: “Life is so hard; my income is stretched thin among my X number of children, but at least I feel happy and blessed.”
Hope: ”Someday someone not corrupt will come and change the way things are done.”
Simple Life: ”We are contented to live a life without worries and free from obligations and material desires.”
If I were to take the world’s most reliable source of information, Wikipedia, for a working definition of simple life/living, we would get this:
Simple living encompasses a number of different voluntary practices to simplify one’s lifestyle. These may include reducing one’s possessions or increasing self-sufficiency, for example. Simple living may be characterized by individuals being satisfied with what they need rather than want. Although asceticism generally promotes living simply and refraining from luxury and indulgence, not all proponents of simple living are ascetics. Simple living is distinct from those living in forced poverty, as it is a voluntary lifestyle choice.
Take note of the key parts:
Reducing one’s possessions
Being satisfied with what they need rather than want
Being distinct from those living in forced poverty
How many of these apply to Filipinos?
Reducing one’s possessions? This is unlikely to happen when Filipinos are notoriously excessive consumers. Filipinos are quick to ride on the bandwagon whenever a new gadget or must-have trendy item makes its way to their shores. Plus, they are known for measuring their social status based on the number of material possessions that they own.
Increasing self-sufficiency? Even in the area one would expect the Philippines to be self-sufficient, rice production, the current situation is actually the opposite. The Philippines is forced to import rice because of an agriculture sector that is underdeveloped and has had its fair share of anomalies. In yet another obvious example, if Filipinos had planned their society’s development well, or at the very least shown some restraint – if you know what I mean – then perhaps we wouldn’t be in the current position wherein we need to send Filipinos abroad just to make ends meet for the ever-growing population of our country.
Being satisfied with what they need rather than want? As long as Filipinos remain the consumerist society that they are, they will never be. As long as inggit (envy) and di ako pwede malamangan (cannot have an advantage over me) are motivations prevalent in Filipino society, they will never be satisfied, yet they will remain utterly empty.
Living in forced poverty? The Philippines seems to be an inherently unjust society. Upward mobility is difficult, if not impossible here; if one has been born into a poor social class, then chances are that the conditions of Filipino society will force one to stay there for a very long time, if not the rest of one’s life. Although some Filipinos apply the ethic of “work hard so that you can rise above”, it unfortunately goes side by side with the victim mentality that makes Filipinos believe that: a) they are helpless without someone else to help them all the time, and; b) they are entitled to be helped by everyone around them.
In other words, while many Filipinos may have been born into circumstances not of their liking, a portion of them do not have the mentality and resourcefulness to rise above it. Those who believe they are resigned to their fate and are merely waiting for manna from heaven, or from their neighborhood friendly politician, or from the guava tree, are the ones that need to be weeded out.
So if the description given above is hardly apt for Filipinos, how do they define “simple life”? I believe a passage from a previous article of mine paints a rather accurate definition:
The Filipino wants to have his cake, and eat it too.
The Filipino wants all of the glory, none of the work.
The Filipino wants his life to get better without lifting a finger.
The Filipino wants to be spoon-fed and taken by the hand.
The Filipino wants to be babied and cajoled by the rest of the world.
The Filipino wants the fruit of hard work to fall from the tree into his gaping mouth.
The Filipino wants respect to be handed to him on a silver platter without the need to reciprocate it.
In short, the Filipino is lazy.
It all makes sense, doesn’t it? The lazy, non-thinking, dole-out, victim mentality that Filipinos are known for does coincide with their notion of a simple life. They want nothing to do with thinking about things. Keep the “blessings” coming. Give them money and food. Once, twice, over and over again. Do the thinking for them; this is why religion has such a profound impact on their society – religion emphasizes faith, which means you surrender your thinking faculties – and why they keep getting duped by their politicians over and over again.
Simple life indeed. Such simple-mindedness. And it makes the Filipinos look like a bunch of simpletons.
But wait, I think simpleton is a rather complicated word for the average Filipino.
It makes them look like morons. Happy, hopeful, and simple-living morons, at that.
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