After a lot of observation regarding the typical behavior of higher-up Pinoys, I have come to realize that an education doesn’t always equal intelligence or maturity. On the contrary, an ill-gotten education (one that has been gained through personal favors or bribes) does more harm to a person than good. It goes without saying that being knowledgeable requires a lot of study and being wise requires a lot of experience. Unfortunately, as I have come to see in many people we think of as “elite”, they tend not to lack just one of these traits but a good number of people we think of as authority figures lack both. Worse yet, there are those of them who fail to understand the responsibilities that are expected of them even if they do have at least one of these traits.
In some of my previous articles and another article here by rsurtida, it has been pointed out that typical Pinoys, their sense of pride and any form of power, no matter how small, can have really disappointing or outright cringe-worthy results. One of my personal beliefs revolves around the idea that respect is something you should earn and is not something you get automatically either through family ties or any personal connection you have with any higher up. Unfortunately, this belief isn’t just disregarded in the Philippines, it is outright hated, especially by the dumb followers of many of our celebrities and politicians. Going back to this article, I can point out that challenging some of the dumber systems in place in our society isn’t going to go away anytime soon.
For a better idea of what I’m actually talking about, here are some of the things I’ve observed about many authority figures and their devout worshipers:
Everything is a popularity contest!
In order to become an authority figure in the Philippines with some credentials under your belt, you don’t need actual credentials, you just need to be popular! Never mind that this kind of mindset would probably be considered outright absurd in more progressive societies; for many dumb Pinoys, “might makes right” or should I say “popularity makes right”! To this day, I still do not understand why the heads of many schools and other institutions even allow for this kind of thing even if it is detrimental to society in the long run.
Now, I know that there are people in this country who are quite gifted in their field of expertise. I know that there are also athletes and other gifted people who deserve our support and respect. Unfortunately, while they may indeed be talented they might not have the kind of qualities that are required to make a good leader. Being able to run fast and have great endurance doesn’t mean you’ll know what to do when a natural calamity arrives to destroy the homes and livelihoods of common citizens. Knowing how to fight in a boxing ring won’t mean squat if you don’t know how to give the right kind of education to children and prevent the literacy rate from dropping lower than it already has. Finally, knowing how to sing or say lines in a script won’t prepare you for the threat of war and how you can deal with it.
Worse yet, thanks to the way that common Pinoys tend to worship the very idea of popularity, the line between those who are talented and those who are favored have become blurred. As long as you excel in one field (i.e.: boxing, acting or singing) there are those who will claim that you are good at everything else even when you clearly aren’t. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a singing voice as you’re pretty and are of foreign descent, people will think of you as a great actress even if all you’re good at is reading lines from a script. Even if you’re not exactly educated, as long as you’re a great boxer, you can probably get a good college degree (even if you never actually studied anything) and can even run for congress! Worse yet, just being related to some of these people is usually enough to ensure awards in school or a position in the government!
The list goes on and on…
Another thing I can note about many Pinoy authority figures is their love for their titles. Well, it’s not really surprising and there are many other people in other countries who probably have the same mindset. However, in more progressive societies, using lines like: “Don’t you know who I am?” or “Do you know who you’re talking to?” will probably make you a laughing stock. It is often seen as a sign of desperation or an immature person throwing a temper tantrum and is unmaking of what an authority figure should be saying.
Unfortunately, this is something that I see all too often in many of our authority figures. I have seen doctors try to wave their title around like a sword as if being a doctor makes you a king of some kind. I have also seen cops behave more like thugs rather than protectors of the law and more often than not break the established order themselves. Lastly, there are politicians who tend to maltreat their people, acting as if they have a “divine right” to abuse them even if the people are the sole reason they are in power at all.
Please people, remember that doctors are respected for saving lives and not taking advantage of or bullying laymen. Police officers are considered the people’s defense against crime and not the major perpetrators thereof. Finally, politicians are chosen by the people and are therefore powerless without the support of the citizenry.
We are always looking for the wrong traits…
While the problems with authority figures is bad enough, another big problem is what the common voter is looking for in his/her candidate. It’s not competence the common Pinoy is looking for, c’mon, get real. What they want is someone who is at least affiliated with other politicians, even if the said politicians were never really all that competent or if their entire family is corrupt. Being able to sing and dance is another trait Pinoy voters tend to look for even if running a country has nothing to do with singing or dancing.
Until we realize and do away with these ideas, then we can expect our authority figures to be either incompetent or abusive. If we cannot put into our hearts that, if we do not act together as a unified people and put behind us all our baggage as a failed nation, then we will always be trapped in the past. A life of corruption, poverty and misery is all we can expect if we cannot come to terms with where we went wrong and why we should hold ourselves to a higher standard.
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