Webmaster Benign0’s article a while back about the bullying in Ateneo, where he said bullying is a result of how society developed as part of human efforts to solve the basic problem of survival in old times, gave me some mojo to restart this article about society’s getting rid of undesirables (so this will be another philosophical post; please bear with me). Bullying is not just someone trying to assert power over others. It is a way to get rid of threats and liabilities, anything thought of as obstacles to society’s survival. Many tribal leaders of old likely had an authoritarian manner for getting people in line, and those who don’t get in line get bullied, or ejected, or even killed, as “undesirables.” It was the premise behind such things as as the Holocaust by the Nazis and purges by Stalin and Pol Pot.
Today, that mentality manifests in another way: if you can’t get rid of someone, you instead try to make them feel miserable or “undesired.” I wrote in an earlier article, the search for validation is a function of not wanting to be eliminated by others, in turn a function of survival mentality. The organization of societies since ancient times has always called for marking who is accepted and who is not. Almost every society in the world has created rationales for identifying the “undesirable.” This includes today’s flawed understanding of Darwinian theory called “survival of the fittest.” Gays were often beaten up in 20th century society not just because of disgust felt by the dominant heterosexual mentality, but also because gay couples can’t reproduce, so they are are seen as useless for the purpose of survival.
It is indeed a normal thing in life to avoid or try to remove something that we don’t want or need (or something we hate). The problem is how we do it. We can address it in a calm, controlled manner, or we can manifest it as anger. We can be enraged especially at things that are useless to us (“walang silbi” or “walang kwenta” in Tagalog) or something we feel that antagonizes or annoys us. And actions taken to remove things sometimes becomes violent.
Also, I have often heard “why do people hate what they don’t understand?” The answer for me is simple: it’s the fear that if you don’t understand something, you cannot control it, and if you can’t control it, it could become a threat or liability. It is undesirable. So the solution: remove or kill it.
Today, we live in a time of human rights. Ridding ourselves of undesirables is considered wrong. Universal human rights recognizes that you cannot be rid of people because they are useless to you. Modern wisdom often teaches that we are not entitled to “silbi” from others. Even if others are “walang silbi” to us, we have no right to be rid of them.
Note how a lot of inspirational messages, especially in modern Christianity, often try to make people feel loved and wanted. It is among the modern responses against the mentality of getting rid of undesirables. It escapes me that people haven’t found the simple solution: if you remove this attitude that removing undesirables is all right, you likely could have no need for inspirational messages. No need for people having to “find a reason to live,” “find my worth in this world,” or any other attempt to be happy in a world of depression-causers. This is because you remove the real basic cause of that worry in the world.
On the belief that society thrives by ridding itself of useless people, I could say useless is a relative word. For example, some store owners hate it when people just pass by without buying anything, so they believe non-buyers are useless to them and should be eliminated (perhaps some went far enough as to try to kill them; but in today’s times, the modern way is hiring business trolls to harass or attack critics, opponents or consumer advocates).
It should be more taught that a society thrives better not by eliminating useless people, but by finding ways to make them useful. A person isn’t useless forever; they can become useful later. If you want to get get rid of all useless people, you could include yourself; there certainly was a time wherein you became useless for a while. Of course, if a person decides to become habitually harmful and refuses to change their ways, then appropriate action may be taken to correct them.
Yet many people today are holding out against that current, and still consider eliminating undesirables as normal. This continues to pervade in many less modern societies. Even people in modern societies seek to justify this eliminationist mentality.
But this is not manifested only by “right-wingers,” racists or pro-Duterte people who approve of killing criminals. Even those who are under the Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) have their own undesirables: those who don’t agree with them. As a comment under a Youtube video said, Social Justice Warriors or people who attack others are not really “liberal;” they are actually authoritarian. If what they want is to impose their own ideas on the world, then they also want to be rid of undesirables. They can’t claim to be on the side of rights and dignity if they are so, because the true decent person would “defend another’s right to say something that he disagrees with.”
Also, these people might be the types who want their “inspirational” messages catered to by other people. They want to hear praises and adulation from others, and want their “I am beautiful” chant seconded by a chorus of others saying, “yes, we agree you are beautiful.” They get angry and call others “fascist” when they do not get that chorus, but that makes them people who are against undesirables.
There certainly would be the point of the last straw, namely when you’re dealing with unchanging criminals. This is why Rodrigo Duterte was voted in as president. You give some criminals a chance, but they refuse to change their ways. Or they did something heinous that they do not regret up to their graves. I agree that they want best receive what they intend to dish out, as I have said about terrorists before. Or for a less violent case, if someone causes trouble at a bar, the bouncer throws them out; also, imprisonment is not just a punishment for its own sake, it is for isolating the problem from society.
Criminals themselves have the mentality of eliminating undesirables. One person who admitted to being part of the Blue Whale Challenge (predecessor of the Momo Challenge) scare before, Philipp Budeikin, said he wanted to rid society of useless people by inciting them to suicide. He got only three years of prison, but perhaps more should be done. Hopefully, future measures can deal with such people in a more thorough way.
I also would suggest distinguishing “undesirables” from criminals. Useless is different from harmful. People with disabilities, people with terminal illness, and similar are best not just eliminated. Yet it remains a fierce debate on whether societies have the right to get rid of people they see as burdens, and it depends on people’s core values in that particular society.
We struggle in life to remove things we dislike or are useless to us. And sometimes, we can’t remove them. The wisdom of life says, sometimes we have to let go and not attack something that offends us. Often, you can just let it be, because if it is really wrong, it will drag itself down (as what happened to the Pinoy Ako Blog).
There is also the question of freeloaders, something people really hate. Some don’t want mercy on freeloaders. Well, don’t kill freeloaders. But let nature take its course. There’s no obligation to try and help someone who shot themselves in the foot. If the pain of life doesn’t teach them common sense, then likely nothing will. Even the Bible passage implies that: “he who refuses to work should not eat.” Maybe you could call that self-elimination, and we should not punish people for not helping them.
There is also the dopamine side, when people love it when they hurt or eliminate someone. This could be a mental health issue, but there is also a societal and cultural side to it. Indeed, there are times when people feel good about ridding themselves of other people. That is likely what Budeikin felt when inciting people with the Blue Whale Challenge.
Letting something you hate exist is perhaps one of the truest tests of character. Our ways of dealing with what we dislike, cannot accept or hate are perhaps the most real manifestation of who we are. For example, some may not believe gay behavior is normal and natural, but are willing to leave gays alone, as opposed to acting on one’s impulse, getting a gun and gunning down the gays they find. But it is indeed a difficult thing for those whose primary motives are based on the primitive level of survival. I could argue, it would actually be more contributive to survival to not eliminate people. I’d say this is true even during the zombie apocalypse. The Walking Dead would portray non-zombies killing each other for survival. But that’s exactly that would deplete the human race should an event occur. Pooling together everyone you can would be the more logical step to take. If one person is the first to attack others because they perceive that other one to be “undesirable,” then they make themselves the undesirable one.
The above might even be a challenge for social justice warriors (SJWs) or the politically correct. They may not realize that their ideas stem from ideologies, including Marxist ideology, that also sought the removal of undesirables. For them, those who disagree with their ways, such as those who disagree with forced sharing, and are against removing private ownership, are undesirable. In our local scene, they would believe that pro-Marcos and pro-Duterte are undesirable, or people who refuse to share to the poor are undesirable, so these must be eliminated. In this sense, they are not the “good guys” they claim to be, but are just as bad as what they paint their perceived enemies as.
We have to accept that we are not entitled to have everyone and everything being useful to us, and we are not entitled to eliminate useless people. Life’s not fair, and that’s for a good reason. In life, we have to deal and live with pain and things that we dislike, because this is part of how reality keeps us in line. One can also argue that, in an economic sense, elimination of perceived competitors or opponents in life today is foolhardy. In today’s largely market-driven world, everyone is a potential consumer of your market, as much as you are theirs. Eliminating others would lead to eliminating parts of your market.
Challenging this premise of society removing undesirables as a whole would require a few things. Putting our violent reaction to things we dislike and hate under control is one. Dropping the belief that we should enforce what we believe is right on the world is another. It challenges the very core of our being. Addressing the way of handling “undesirables” is still a work in progress for the whole human race. We are still trying to strike the balance between removing liabilities and being tolerant of things that are not useful to us. In this discussion, we should allow our most-cherished beliefs to be challenged and sometimes crushed.