To be truly honest, I’m not really big on organized religion. I have doubts that any one person or group of persons can represent a Being that created the Universe and is thought to be even greater than the Cosmos They created. I believe that religion should be a personal pursuit and that it should be strictly between you and God only. No one can really mediate for you and the best that people can do is give you advice about your life choices but, at the end of the day, when you go to face God in all Their glory, you will be alone and naked.
So no, I’m not an atheist. However, I’m not really here to preach so I’ll try to keep this article as secular as possible. To our non-religious readers out there, I invite you to read anyway because, if you try not to think about the more supernatural implications about this article, perhaps you can still gain a good understanding of human nature, especially that of the Filipinos, and the evils that are somehow ingrained into them. I’m not judging anyone after all, I’m just pointing out some of the things that I commonly see that serve to waylay the progress of the Filipino people.
Let’s begin with an inter-faith discussion. Something that even I didn’t really expect. This was quite a while back when I was very depressed and was seriously considering suicide at the time. I was at a gym’s locker room, thinking about how much pain I would actually experience if I threw myself at a speeding vehicle before I died when a friend of mine walked in and saw me.
Take note, my friend is actually a Muslim. He told me that he is originally from Morocco and that he has a family living somewhere in England. He is a bank manager and often comes to the Philippines for a vacation. He rarely, if ever, talks about his religion. He didn’t want people to get the wrong idea about him just because he is an Arab Muslim. However, when he saw the way I looked at the time, he decided to open up and tell me at least a little bit about himself and his views on religion proper.
At first we talked about movies and video games. He was an avid movie-goer and gamer as well. He was a big fan of James Bond films and he also frequently played FPS games like Spec-Ops and the F.E.A.R. series. I thought at first that he was just distracting me with idle talk until we reached the topic of horror films.
He said that, as a Muslim, he found Christian-based religious horror films utterly hilarious. Of course, he said they were at least not devoid of good entertainment value but that he really didn’t think he could take them seriously. He found movies like End of Days and The Exorcist as “exciting” but very misleading.
He told me that demons don’t need to look like big, horned dinosaurs like Diablo to ruin your day and they don’t need to do anything physical to make your life a living hell. All they really need, according to him, is a vulnerable and distraught mind they can whisper their lies to. And no, while their simple act of whispering lies to mortals might not seem much compared to spinning heads, what they can do is far more terrifying than any horror movie.
Take note, he said, that even a mere stray thought, misheard word or misunderstanding can lead to the deterioration of relationships, bar brawls or full-blown wars. Saying or thinking the wrong thing at the wrong time is all it really takes to make a situation pear-shaped in rapid succession. For instance, if you hear the words “I saw your girlfriend/boyfriend with someone a while ago” and don’t pay attention to the rest of it, your mind will likely jump to conclusions and may eventually lead to a fight with your significant other. Seeing people laugh together in a corner and one of them glances at you might make you think that they’re talking about you and making fun of you even though that might not be the case. The list goes on.
Now, he went on to say that demons aren’t the only ones to blame for the bad things that happen in our world. It is we, humans, that do most of the bad things after all. However, he notes that one can probably compare them to the cheerleaders, or more likely hooligans, in a sporting event. Sure, what they do or shout might not really seem to affect the game all that much but, if they say something at the right moment at the right player, things might suddenly change.
As an example, he cited to me a time when he accompanied his son to a soccer game. He and his son found their seats near the goalkeeper. Not far from the goalkeeper was a group of what were probably hooligans. Whatever the case, they taunted and jeered at the goalkeeper who, at first at least, managed to ignore them and keep his attention on the game. Halfway through the goalkeeper’s time in the game though, one of the hooligans managed to shout a personal insult against the goalkeeper and from there, his performance faltered until he was swapped for another goalkeeper who did a better job at ignoring the hooligans.
While he respects the Christian notion of the devil being like a lion, he notes that his experiences have taught him otherwise. Instead, he sees demons as something similar to poisonous snakes with a painless bite. They strike at you, unseen and it is only when it is too late that you realize that you have been bitten at all. He tells me that unless you pay close attention to what you think and say to yourself and others, they’ll probably find some profound way of messing up your day or the rest of your life if you’re not careful.
He made mention of the terrorists of the Philippines and he told me that, considering the kind of government we have, they probably have some reason of doing what they do. Nonetheless, what they are doing is still wrong, plain and simple and cannot be excused by any kind of lawful reasoning. While they clamor for new laws that are supposedly “just”, they’re willingness to kill even wounded and defeated men is sign enough of how “law-abiding” they are, according to him. He cited that there are actually quite a number of things that they could still do but they choose to do what is wrong anyway because of misguided ideas or because it is easy or convenient.
My friend noted that emotional people, especially those who are in the throes of a particularly powerful emotion like anger, sorrow or even love, can be easy to manipulate if one knows how to track a person’s emotion. Any word said to an angry person can seem like an insult after all and a deeply depressed person is almost impossible to reason with due to the numbness of our senses.
So he told me that the next time I think about taking my own life, I should really consider what alternatives I have instead of the pain I was experiencing at the time. Later on, we decided to have dinner at a local branch of KFC with some other friends and discussed other matters completely unrelated to religion. One such topic was who came up with the idea of combining Clover chips with fried chicken and what kind of narcotics had the said person been taking to come up with such an idea…
Anyway, I mentioned in a previous article that I once played a major role in a loose adaptation of Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. I also recommend reading the book because it has proven to be quite a fun read even for non-Christians. Some of the points I can point out from the book that can apply almost succinctly with the Filipino mindset are the following:
- Apathy: Filipinos probably aren’t the most attentive of people. Most of them simply don’t care as long as they get by on a day-to-day business. What’s more painful is that I know a lot of people can sense the wrongness in our society but choose not to act anyway because it is “useless” or “inconvenient”. However, while it’s true that everyone has needs, there is always the idea that: “Evil prevails where good men fail to act.” So the mere act of not caring can be considered evil in and of itself. Unless we, the Filipino people can be proactive and make advances to improving ourselves instead of just relying on our leaders to do our work for us, then we, as a people, are utterly doomed.
- Insane Troll Logic: Another reason we never seem to get anywhere in our country is because people are often dead-set in their ways even if there is a considerable amount of evidence to support their stupidity. These are people who simply see what they want to see, hear what they want to hear and believe what they want to believe according to what they deem is convenient. Take for instance that so many people these days like to quote the Bible but take them out of context and use them for their own purposes. I see Kris Aquino and her fans use a lot of Bible quotes but do not clearly understand them and simply ignore the fact that they could just be as easily the people the quote was meant to deride in the first place.
- Over-Emotionalism: Emotions, as mentioned above, are good and are what ultimately makes us human beings. But letting them cloud our reasoning is one way we can truly get ourselves into predicaments we might no longer be able to get ourselves out of. And, as my friend and I discussed, words and actions taken at the height of ones emotions are seldom correct or well-planned. Remember that when you’re angry, it’s very hard to focus on what the person you’re angry at is actually saying. Also, when you’re in love, it’s almost impossible to hear anything anyone else is telling you. As Pinoys seem to be drama addicts, is it any surprise at all that we stay as dumb people even after all that’s happened to us?
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