Celebration of People is Overrated

Let’s again focus on this brilliant quote often attributed to U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, about people, events and ideas:

quote-great-minds-discuss-ideas-average-minds-discuss-events-small-minds-discuss-people-eleanor-roosevelt-157872

It apparently means small people talk wild gossip and rumors about people (who they are likely backstabbing). Average people talk about events that they just observe, without any desire to change anything. Really intelligent people talk about ideas that they hope to apply to change things. I have personally understood it in another way: when things work, there is success or goodness happens, it is not because of people, but because of ideas.

Yes, this will be a sort of rant, with misanthropic undertones, but I’ll put some real ideas into it. I can’t understand it when people say, oh, people are so beautiful, oh they are so awesome, how lovely the beauty of people, they make the world beautiful! I can’t figure out what these guys are on. I would say people are also the source of atrocities and ugliness. That’s why I dared express the thesis that we shouldn’t “celebrate,” “appreciate” or “like” people just off the bat. I say it’s overrated because it leads to starstruck ignoramus idol-worshipping and our bloated egos. While not exclusive to the Philippines, it is certainly something that our culture seems to embrace as an intrinsic part.

A prevailing notion from olden times is that people’s actions are an extension of their fundamental selves. I forget what it’s called; perhaps you can call it natural attribution. Basically, a person does good or evil things because they are fundamentally or “naturally” good or evil, i.e. they are “born” good or evil. For example, when a person does beautiful things, we tend to call them a “beautiful person.” And we assume that the person’s personalities or characters are permanent and cannot change. This is why, when a person thought good murders someone, others will say, “I can’t believe that he did that, he was such a nice guy.” And when we see a person who likes to make amends for something wrong they did, we tend to disbelieve, because we assume his evil nature is permanent. It could also be used for things like talents. And so I butchered such things in my previous articles about “natural” talents and bloodlines. Such things are wrong beliefs that keep us from doing the right changes to our behavior. They are also why we tend to embrace personalities instead of platforms for politicians.

Doing good or evil is not the product of intrinsic natures. It is the product of will, and human will can transcend nature. Character and personality are not really “natural;” they are intentional, or in Tagalog, sinasadya. Using their will, people have the power to control their reaction to stimuli and influences, and change themselves. Unfortunately, they refuse to. People may use the idea of natural attribution as an excuse for their unwillingness to change. A person who likes to hit people when he’s angry will say, “I’m always like that.” That is likely an aspect of unwillingness to take responsibility for one’s own actions as well. One thing that keeps them from doing so is their vanity.

Hannah Arendt with her Banality of Evil concept explains that it does not take special traits to become evil. It also dispels the idea that a person can be naturally good or evil. A person who loves saving kittens from trees could be fond of raping and murdering human toddlers. Murderous people like Adolf Hitler or Pol Pot might have given some bread to a vagrant or made a child happy at times. Character is based on decisions, not “nature.” Again, the quote from Batman Begins rings true: it is not what you are, but what you do that defines you.

Celebration of the person is used by our politicians to prop themselves up. For example, vice president-elect Leni Robredo is seen by many as a “nice person.” She often has photo-ups of taking the bus, so we’re supposed to believe she is a “nice person” because of this. It has led to a considerable personality cult around her. But what if, for example, she says no one will be removed or fired from the international airport because of the laglag-bala racket? What if she protects corrupt officials in office? Then she stops being a “nice person,” doesn’t she? Same with a man who people know as meek and hardworking during the day, but after he drinks with friends at night, he turns into a monster and beats his wife and children. Is he a “nice person” by day but “monster by night?” Obviously, these are not a result of “natural selves,” but decisions.

Other cases I would mention include the famed “blade-runner” Oscar Pistorius, who was an inspiration to many by being a runner despite his legs having been amputated in an early age. However, any impression that he is “naturally good” must have been erased when he shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in 2013. Another case is German New Age musician Oliver Shanti. While he created many beautiful musical works, he was convicted in 2009 for child sexual abuse. There are also controversial psychological experiments, like the Stanley Milgram obedience experiment and the Stanford Prison Experiment by Philip Zimbardo, which may have proven that even “fundamentally good” people could turn evil at the drop of a hat.

I thus imply that “natural” good or evil is a wrong concept, as the same person is capable of both good and evil actions at different times. I call for the dropping of this obsolete belief that one’s “nature” is permanent and unchangeable. As I said, this leads to people being stubborn, as well as being starstruck ignoramuses of others. The fantards believe that the traits of people they admire are natural, they are more likely to be stricken with mindless admiration for these (going along, of course, with the desire to mooch on these objects of admiration). This is very clear in showbiz and politics.

My sentiment is that people who are concerned with “celebration of the person” and “beauty” are wrapped up in their conceit and overinflated egos. I know people seek affirmation from the world that they are beautiful or something. They post on their Facebook profiles selfies saying “woke like this,” or will just flatly say, “Lukatmi, I’m beautiful!” They probably buy into silly motivational ideas suggest things like looking into the mirror and saying to yourself, “I’m beautiful,” to boost confidence. So when they go outside, they may demand that other people say the same thing to her, otherwise they scream insults. Not to mention they backstab people who disagree with her. Nothing beautiful about them even if they have beauty queen looks. They’re among of the reasons people like me stay misanthropic introverts. Sometimes you need to go against them, and say no when they demand flattery from you.

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This is what commercialism takes advantage of. Just a look around confirms how mass media and popular culture have been helping bloat our egos. We are only concerned with “appearing beautiful” (and “positive!”), but our actions and practices in life become ugly. All the vanity is used as a smokescreen to keep us from actually doing the right things in life, including fixing our faults.

Along with our egoistic culture, it turns us into KSP zombies seeking “acceptance” that is actually flattery (in Tagalog, bola!). Instead of being responsible, we become narcissistic. Popular culture is so filled with this attitude, and it even sugar-coats this as “appreciation” of people. But it is actually anything but appreciation. It is actually commercialized idolatry. As a result, we spend so much on products meant to make us “beautiful,” but all they do is drain our wallets. Putting lipstick on a pig or polishing a turd can be expensive; but it will never work.

Thus, we go to my thesis: we should not celebrate people, but rather, what they do. It is like the saying, separate the sin from the sinner. Likewise, separate the good deed from the do-gooder. When people do good or bad, it says nothing about their personalities or “how great they are.” It’s just a clue to what they may be capable of doing in the future based on current and past decisions. You can’t just leave it to “nature.”

OK, so I might get flak from the people who say “people are naturally good!” They might even accuse me of trying to promote violence by denying the good in people. If I deny the goodness in people, I am the one making them bad. But is that how it really works? Our thoughts can affect other people? We all like to believe we are good people. But are we really? We should be careful, because when we make mistakes, but still feel we are ‘good,’ we tend to deny our mistakes. That would be hubris, not goodness. By accepting that our decisions form our character, we make it easier for ourselves to change for the better.

People can improve themselves using their will, once they have blown away the smokescreens. Filipinos should throw away the old notions about being “naturally beautiful” and should work to be “beautiful in action.” “Nature” is no excuse to avoid change. Humans have this fascination with permanence, especially when the smoke and mirrors produce “good feelings” or “sarap ng buhay.” We have to break up the smoke and mirrors. This might raise enraged retorts of “you’re ruining our happiness,” but it’s better to firm up and show to their faces that their happiness is fake.

But am I saying we should stop being nice to people? That would be a strawman argument. I am against liking people and putting them on a pedestal for no reason. But as I did say before, do you need to like people to be nice to them? That’s the problem with our society: the idea that you should be nice only to people you like (or know) is the creator of dickheads and asshole behavior. In other words, that is selective behavior. You should be courteous to and respect people even if you don’t like them or don’t know them, and that is the mark of a decent and healthy society. Otherwise, we are no different than rats making their living off a trash dump.

So back to the saying attributed to Mrs. Roosevelt; I would say faith in people is misplaced. It’s ideas that make the world go round. While people indeed give birth to ideas, ideas take a life of their own, especially when they are recognized as principles that consistently work the same way no matter who else applies them. For example, the golden rule remains true no matter who says it. What I said above, that ego deceives us into believing we are good when we’re really acting like maggots is another idea that remains true anywhere. Another thing about ideas, is, while people die, ideas last.

Truly confident people do not try to look for the appreciation or approval of others. They will be excited to share their idea or creation and talk about it. But they won’t point to themselves, they will point to the idea. Because they understand, it’s not all about themselves, it’s all about the idea.

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About ChinoF

I stick with this blog because I believe, as my cohorts do, that many things Filipino embrace as part of their culture keep their society backward. And blogging freely to show that in a truly decent society, with true freedom of speech, even nobodies have a voice.

39 Comments on “Celebration of People is Overrated”

  1. “Celebration of people is overrated”

    Well anyway, I do agree with you. It – mostly – leads to nothing (beneficial/good).

    I am sure that also includes celebrating and worshipping any god?

      1. Chino,
        You wrote:
        “… If I want to celebrate a god, that should be fine, too.”

        Then what is the difference with people who celebrate/worship other people?
        If you are celebrating/worshipping a god, I dont see whats wrong with people celebrating people. Even if the celebrated (person / god) is abject.
        Are you ‘entitled’ to more privileges?

        1. Celebrating or worshipping a god is a different thing. And I don’t see what “privileges” have anything to do with this.

        2. What defense? It’s better to leave it at this: if you don’t want to celebrate a god, that’s fine. If I want to celebrate a god, that should be fine, too.

        3. Defense =>
          A chair is not people; people is a not a chair.

          So, I can celebrate and worship a chair from now on.

          Good defense, I like your style.

        4. Chino,

          For one second pls try to forget that I am an atheist (Is that possible for you? Pls do anyway. Thanks).

          When I was in Sto Nino, Cebu City, I saw everybody waving at a statue of Sto Nino. That statue was behind glass (not that that matters). But I really had to keep my laughter inside me.
          Now – again – I am not an expert in religious relics but Sto Nino is not a god. That waving was quite overrated – indeed – and looked very stupid to me.

          What I want to say is this: we all do things for certain reasons and causes.
          I dont care if you worship and celebrate Allah, god, Muhammad or whoever (and that includes ordinary people and or celebrities, like singers or actresses, actors). It doesnt offend me, it doesnt insult me, it doesnt bother me. But I will not copy that behavior myself.

          Bottomline:
          If I want to worship and/or celebrate a god then every other individual has the same ‘right’ (I actually dont think it has anything to do with a right but okay) to celebrate/worship a chair or a living or dead human being.

          Example:
          If I want and will worship Madonna (the American singer) then nobody can and nobody feel offended. At best (or worst) they can say: “she is a lousy singer”. Well, that is a matter of personal taste. But by worshipping her, nobody will be bothered. It only cost me money in buying all her CDs and DVDs/BluRay discs.

          “Truth be told” (I always like that quote): Do I worship Madonna? No, I only have 1 or 2 CDs and 1 DVD.

        5. So do you just want to say, worshipping people is OK, but worshipping a good is not? That’s fine with me. But here’s another thing, let me just use your words to demonstrate what I’m doing in my article. “That… was quite overrated – indeed – and looked very stupid to me.” So mine indeed is the other way round. I’m OK with worshipping gods and not people. I’m not forbidding you to pursue your conviction about this, but if you have a right to say something is stupid, so do I.

        6. Personally, I will never worship a person (dead or undead). At best, I can be (or will be) jealouse (or maybe a better word is: admire) bec someone is a damned good piano player (while I am not). So now I can do a couple of things:
          – accept that someone can do something that I cant; OR
          – I can try to also become a – lousy, average or good – piano player. But I will need to try first. So, lets take piano lessons and see if I am talented (or not).

          “So do you just want to say, worshipping people is OK, but worshipping a good is not?”

          If the word ‘good’ refers to my chair and to your god, then I will say we both are stupid.
          For celebrating people, I already explained that above.
          Personally, I just cant grasp that people celebrate and/or worship something like a god.

          Lets be a little bit friendlier: I just cant and dont understand why certain people focus all their lives focussing on a religion (god, allah et al). As if thats the only thing that matters to them. (Inshallah; Bahala na).

          “… but if you have a right to say something is stupid, so do I.”
          That is affirmative.

        7. Oh Robert…

          When were you not capable of worshiping a chair?

          You just demonstrated a common trait among “low church” atheists: the tendency to draw a discussion into their pet topic: people believing in gods.

          I mean, seriously, the descent should have stopped the moment chinoF replied:

          If you don’t want to celebrate a god, that’s fine. If I want to celebrate a god, that should be fine, too.

          But no. You have to switch “overrated” with “wrong” and claim that chinoF is claiming entitlement to more privileges.

      1. Nothing against them, but you know, that how rabid atheists are. They can’t stand the fact that religion continues to exist. But we must tolerate all walks of life, creeds, race and gender orientations so I’d just leave them alone if I can. Wag mo nalang patulan.

        1. Dick,
          you tell me why my country went from an overwhelming Christian country to a far more atheist country since 1960s?

          Furthermore, the majority of the Dutch people dont want the immigrants from Syria (and other Muslim countries) to enter and to settle here because they bring a daft backward culture and their backward religion.
          They dont like progress, they are against free speech and against outspokenness.

        2. @Robert. The answer to your first question is simple: Because Atheists are very outspoken and dare, I say rabid? They simply can’t stand religion and will try to stamp that out–the height of intolerance.

          That also explains why you hate Syrians coming in. Though, to be fair, the Dutch created the Netherlands and had a fairly homogeneous ethnicity until recently, its understandable that you’d be wary of outsiders no matter how “open” or “tolerant” you claim to be. Its simply human nature. Likewise, those immigrants would tend to resist adapting to their new environment hence, as you claim, would retain their “backwardness.” (Filipinos do this too) Your only solution is simply to boot them out, don’t worry, its OK. Xenophobic countries can still exist in this day and age, just look at Japan, they are doing pretty well for themselves, nothing to be ashamed of.

          I’ll have to hand it to the Germanic peoples though, they are very good at adapting to places they colonize (with the exception of Englishmen and Americans). You’ll see that wherever Germanic peoples settle, places like Russia, France, Spain, Portugal and North Africa, they tend to adopt the language and culture of the places they settle in rather than impose their own on the existing populace. These Syrians and we Filipinos could learn a thing or two.

        3. Dick,
          we dont behave as missionaries and go visit religious households to stamp it out (not today and not back 50 years ago). The religious people ‘converted’ themselves without a gun has been put to their skulls.
          We live peacefully next to each other.

          The Dutch government made at least 1 mistake by inviting people from Turkey and Moroc during the 60s. Our economy was at a high and jobs couldnt be filled. The Dutch government expected and hoped those immigrants (back then) would return back home (when the economy would be calmed down) but they stayed. The 3rd generation today still has problems adapting to our modern society. The 1st generation still doesnt speak Dutch, while the rd generation doesnt speak their own original language. When the 3rd generation goes back to their country they feel like a foreigner and in my country they dont feel accepted. A lost generation, basically.

          The majority of the dutch people dont like them bec they dont adapt and dont adopt to our modern society. No wonder they are the lost generation. But we dont kill them.
          What you will here very often is that Morocons and Turkeys people are over represented in jail.

          Personally, I cant and will not boot them out. They dont bother me at all.
          We live in private, anonomous, individual society. So no need for me to boot them out.

          I know there is a huge colony of Dutch living in America. They adapted and adopted quite fine. I have learned those Dutch there are – what we call today – very strict religious people.

        4. @Robert. Well, you don’t need a gun to your head to be converted. You just need to show a very attractive lifestyle, if you know what I mean 😉

        5. I really dont know what the trick was for them. All I know is that church visit (every sunday) is (going) down and more and more churches are closing down altogether and eventually get a different destination.

        6. @Robert, my guess is that they were already closet atheists. Once the movement achieved critical mass, they just joined in. I’m sure you know that its quite a chore to attend church every week.

        7. Dick,
          That could be true but hardly to imagine (closet atheists). It will /would make them lousy catholics/protestants.
          It started during the mid/late 1960s and I was too young back then. The 1960s was a real life changer, in hindsight.

        8. @Robert, the majority of people in a big inclusive religion/movement will always be lousy.

        9. Yeah probably.

          Anyway, back to the topic.
          I really dont understand the buzz and the fuzz about the topic. It also happens in my country. They dont bother anyone and mostly it is age-related (idolizing a singer or a group; Beyonce, Shakira, Justin Bieber and the likes). Its a fling, a crush, a puppy love. And when those teenagers grow older, it will blow over.
          It really happens everywhere.

  2. Maybe it should be a Celebration of uniqueness, when you learn to value what is basic and important that is genuine concern, social justice, commitment. If one learn how to value it’s own uniqueness it compels one to break out of their own bubble help another to develop their self esteem and create a healthy society.

    1. Celebration of good and useful ideas is more like what I’m trying to put across. As for uniqueness, there’s an issue about that. Remember that meme from years back where it shows a bent fork among a row of normal forks? And the caption is, “Being unique doesn’t always mean being useful.”

        1. Hmm, on that, I’m OK with celebrating being a snowflake. I guess the issue is some people tend to celebrate being a better snowflake than others. The egoism is apparent in that. I doubt anyone celebrates being a melted snowflake, though.

  3. Humans are humans. In every person; there is some goodness; there is also some evil, that lurks within us. We all have our strength and weaknesses. Some days us are bad. Some days are good. Sometimes, we are happy. Sometimes we are sad. Sometimes, we hate. Sometimes, we love. Sometimes, we are angry. Sometimes, we forgive. If we are willing to forgive…Sometimes, we hurt…sometimes, we heal our hurt…sometimes, we are up…sometimes, we are down ! Sometimes, we hit the bottom; sometimes, we are propelled to the top !

    We learn to be good and become better people, as we go on thru the years, in our lives, if we are willing to change and improve… People change. Situation in our lives change. The Seasons change. Events are always changing. The World changes. Our civilization changes…Science and Technology advance…our ways of life changes…Our beliefs change; advances in our knowledge, change ; our way of thinking changes…

    We should not put people on Pedestal. We do not know their Inner lives. Their Outer lives, we can see. But, their inner lives, we cannot see…

    The Cult of Personality, like those YellowTards are doing, is nothing but idolatry. It is like worshiping the Golden Calf, or the god: Baal. Instead, of worshiping our God. Whoever, your God is…or, if you ever have a God…

    In the end, we live our lives, knowing what we have accomplished. And knowing what we have not accomplished . We bring these regrets to our graves…

    Remember, we are just humans. “Sapagkat tayo ay tao lamang” !

  4. There is only one way in which a person acquires a new idea: by the combination or association of two or more ideas he already has into a new juxtaposition in such a manner as to discover a relationship among them of which he was not previously aware.

  5. One important message from this article is the idea that humans choose to be good or evil. In my country there is too much excuse making/political correctness, which is a scapegoat for bad peoples’ actions.

    With regard to worshipping people, I have always thought that to be abnormal. I believe the people who worship celebrities are very low self-esteemed individuals. If one thinks very highly of someone, to the point of wanting the person’s autograph, or being obsessed with them, one obviously thinks s/he is garbage compared to the celebrity. A human is a human.

  6. This is just my own view, but worshipping personal entities (regardless of their nature) is essentially idolatrous. Call me a heretic, I wouldn’t mind.
    Somebody once said that there is nothing to all this other than events, ideas. States of matter change, all there is-is information.

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