Our talent for perverting great ideas

05 January 2005

Our best feature adapatability is also our worst weakness... -- Haloperidol (in a post on PinoyExchange).

For that matter, we have a talent for perverting our best virtues.

What was cited above is actually "adaptability" perverted into tolerance for mediocrity and impropriety. We have "adapted" so much to aversity that we now tolerate the worst of dysfunctions not only in our government but in the very soul of our society.

We have a stand-out track record of dubious achievement resulting from our penchant for perverting otherwise great ideas:

Jeepneys. they were an adaptation to post-war conditions but they are now a grotesque and poignant reminder of our lack of foresight and dismal engineering prowess.

Democracy. We supposedly popularised "people power" but then twisted it into the farce that it is today (at least in our country). Our institutions are -- our country itself is --democratically-constituted to the letter but they -- we -- do not execute democracy's principles in spirit.

Religion. we are a famously church-going society - possessing an utter lack of secular ethic and tolerance that has no place in modern society. Our veneer of religiousness barely hides the decay of decency in the increasingly rotten core of our society.

...and most famously;

Christmas. We have earned the distinction of giving the greeting "Merry Christmas" a malicious and greedy ring to it.

It is ironic that we self-righteously fancy ourselves the "victims" of foreign perverts when we ourselves have so effectively perverted many of the noble ideas of the "imperialist" powers. While other Asian societies have built on ideas adopted from the West, we applied them straight out of the box only to undermine them later; true to the form of our uniquely Pinoy passive-aggressive approach to excercising personal liberties.

This brings up a scary thought. If we are hopeless at building on established human knowledge, what hope do we have of adding to it? One thing is for sure. We seem to be adept at subtracting from the sum of human achievement. Considering the rate at which we are multiplying, that is an even scarier thought.

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