First it was “constitutional reform” and now it is “reproductive health”. The thing with issues and the advocacies that seek to address them is that they follow an all-too-familiar lifecycle. They first start out as nice ideas firmly rooted in a robust intellectual construct. And then the simian behaviour starts.
Hold that thought for now while I highlight two things about the human condition relevant to all this…
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Firstly, to be fair, buzz is the catalyst of movement. Without buzz, people will not develop an emotional investment in an idea and will not act. So, and specially in a democracy like ours, emotional investment is the currency that is used to broker political success. To carry an idea forward on a national level, you need politics. And politics is a very emotional game. Unfortunately for those of us who aspire to act primarily in a rational manner, emotion is a biological condition that goes back hundreds of millions of years to the pre-Cambrian explosion when reptiles first emerged. Human intellect, on the other hand, evolved only over the last hundred thousand-odd years (the grade of intellect required to suss out complex ideas like “constitional reform” and “reproductive health” evolved even more recently) — a mere blip in the evolution of our brains.
Second, a derivative behaviour of our fundamentally emotional psyches is our tendency to band together and seek strength in numbers. Again, this is a deep biological condition. We see this behaviour all over the animal kingdom, and the way we 21st Century humans organise ourselves socially continues to reflect this evolutionary legacy. We are hardwired to find the like-minded amongst us, form social bonds with them, and then seek out the “enemy” and destroy them.
Thus on the back of those two biological properties, the “debate” on “reproductive health” has become old. It became old when it became polarised and highly emotional. When things become political and emotional, primal behaviours begin to prevail. We begin to see appeals to emotion coming from camps that originally described themselves as “rational”. We start to see brand marketing tactics — colour codes and logos that describe tribes and cliques rather than ideas and substance. You know the circus has come to town when catchphrases and slogans dominate a “debate” and intellectual and logical discourse take a backseat.
Fact is, Catholicism and even Nazism can be both traced back to sensible ideas. Yet both belief systems were used to effect some of the most terrible atrocities in human history. As my colleague Paul Farol points out, it seems no advocacy is immune to the lifecycle of degeneration that great ideas tend to succumb to.
Some Pro-RH “advocates” who are now wearing different shades of purple might as well start looking at their new found fanaticism (oh, they’re fans of anything that will give them visibility and internet traffic) and consider that perhaps the Pro-RH advocacy may have become a religion in itself.
Really, they’re beginning to sound like the kind of zealots who go house to house asking people to have a personal relationship with the RH Bill or face eternal damnation.
Some pitch their Pro-RH with a heavy dose of scare tactics (very much like what they accuse one religion of doing): “Without RH, the Philippines will be like Soylent Green!”, “We’re already overpopulated!!”…
For me this is all quaintly amusing. It’s like watching a sporting event. I feel like microwaving some popcorn, sitting back on my armchair, propping my feet up on my soft ottoman, and watch as a bunch of buffoons run up and down a field chasing a ball.
The thing with sport is when players misbehave, a man in a black-and-white striped shirt walks into the field and takes said ball away. In the case of these bozos slugging it out in that dopamine well called the “twitterverse”, there is no ball to lose. What is lost is far more important; and that is the Point of it all.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.