The Mahatma Gandhi’s Seven Social Sins, sometimes called the Seven Blunders of the World, is a list that he published in his weekly newspaper Young India on October 22, 1925. Later he gave this same list to his grandson, Arun Gandhi, written on a piece of paper on their final day together shortly before his assassination. The Seven Sins are:
(1) Wealth without work.
(2) Pleasure without conscience.
(3) Knowledge without character.
(4) Commerce without morality.
(5) Science without humanity.
(6) Worship without sacrifice.
(7) Politics without principle.
They remain relevant in the Philippine setting and Filipinos are a brilliant testament to Gandhi’s enduring brilliance.
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Wealth without work
Filipino politicians and some kids of the Philippines’ army of overseas foreign workers fit this category. Easy money presents an easy path to decadence, a loss of perspective and an overblown sense of entitlement. Some may argue that Filipinos work hard. But as the eminent Nick Joaquin observed, “We work more but make less. Why? Because we act on such a pygmy scale.” Rather than focus on robustly capitalising their economy, Filipinos have chosen to take the brain-dead path of propping it up with labour-added value and wanton consumption.
Indeed, a culture of consumption divorced from a culture of wealth creation has long prevailed in Philippine society. The Philippines, despite all the “economic indicators” trumpeted by its triumphalists, remains counted amongst the bottom feeders of the world economy — subsisting on breadcrumbs thrown at it by advanced societies in the form of trade concessions, foreign aid, and “foreign investment”. Beyond selling stuff dug up from the ground, very little economic activity in the Philippines is driven by indigenously-created capital.
Pleasure without conscience
The circus surrounding the multi-million-peso December, 2014 “royal” wedding of Filipino starlets Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera all but illustrated the core dysfunction in the way Filipinos regard entertainment.
The sheer extravagance put on display before an impoverished society by the celebrity couple was highlighted by the attendance of no less than the President of the Philippines himself, Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III. It brings to the fore the tragic irony of Philippine poverty, one where politics and entertainment are partners in maintaining a feudal status quo that keeps Philippine society mired in medieval wretchedness.
Science without humanity
Though bereft of any semblance of a tradition of excellence in the sciences and technology, the Philippines is a huge consumer of popular technology products. Filipinos boast one of the world’s biggest take-up in social media participation and has been crowned one of the world’s selfie capitals. Yet despite all this technology penetration, there is little evidence that Filipinos have collectively uplifted the humanity of their society.
One of the Philippine economy’s most cherished “assets” is its call centre and outsourcing industry where it deploys its highly-educated but vast surplus labour to the task of serving the labour-intensive needs of the rich world. Outsourced workers are essentially human robots — trained to speak, move, and transact in the highly-standardised design specified by their employers. The technology behind the outsourcing field, whether in the form of low-tech sweatshop factories churning out Nike shoes or trendy offices housing armies of Starbucks customers, by design, aims to shoehorn workers within machine frameworks — their humanity regarded as an overhead to be “managed”.
Knowledge without character
Nowhere is this affliction more evident than in the “peace process” the Philippine government had mounted in partnership with the terrorist Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The key architects of this foolish enterprise, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Teresita Quintos Deles, and the man erstwhile known as “Mohagher Iqbal” boast impressive educational credentials. Yet their collective thinking has fatally failed the Filipino people.
Indeed, overall the Philippines has, until recently, traditionally led the region in literacy and education attainment. But that lead has progressively narrowed as countries like Singapore and South Korea, among others, that started out as far more impoverished and less promising than the Philippines caught up and, now, surpassed the Philippines.
Perhaps it is because Filipinos suffer from a cultural predisposition to regard credentials as mere social ornamentation rather than a means to a greater end. As such, societies that have proven better at applying rather than merely displaying academic achievement have long left the Philippines eating their dust.
Politics without principle
This is a no-brainer. Philippine politics is bankrupt of meaning. Filipino political parties are active in form but hollow in substance. They do not mean anything nor stand for anything of consequence. Political parties in the Philippines function primarily as election winning machines rather than bastions of ideas.
Political “debate” in the Philippines revolves around personalities and, as such, does not go beyond petty mudslinging and nitpicking. None of the candidates for the country’s executive and legislative offices are known for their ideas or political platforms. A small-minded people will never rise above the petty gossip that, essentially, forms the substance of Philippine political discourse.
Commerce without morality
“Morality” is a perverted concept in the Philippines. Catholics use it to justify multiplying like cockroaches and Muslims use it to demand “autonomy”. Politicians use it as election campaign fodder, and voters use it to guide the hollow-headed “analysis” of their options. The rich preach “morality” to keep wealth within their dynasties and the poor use it as the opium to alleviate their misery.
One can argue that the Philippine does not suffer from a lack of “morality”. Rather, the more interesting thing to note is that despite all the “morality” that underpins its culture, Philippine society consistently fails to temper the way rampant commercialism progressively erodes its ethical foundation and frays the fabric of its being.
There is a lot of commerce and morality in the Philippines. But to the question of whether both form the context for the building of a better society, one can only wonder for now.
Worship without sacrifice
In the Philippines, the rich “worship” while the poor “sacrifice”.
A concept to mull over.
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The Mahatma Gandhi would be proud. His teachings remain relevant today in the Philippines. Unfortunately whilst one can easily lead a horse to water, it is another endeavour to make it drink. In the case of the Philippines, the solutions are obvious but, when regarded with a Filipino mind, are evidently too hard.
[NB: Parts of this article were lifted off Wikipedia.org and used in accordance with that site’s Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License consistent with the same license applied by Get Real Post to its content.]
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.