An essay on patriotism. I start with some esoteric ramblings. Work with me, eh? It sets up my points regarding the US and Philippines.
Infestation of Kelp in
San Francisco Bay
I rather see our social condition as liquid, not static. Each public utterance is a molecule in search of a companion thought in someone's mind. Upon arrival, it morphs into substance. So our thinking become part of the universe of thought, a sea of social convention.
As a society, we are not constant, but ever evolving, like waters receiving clear or muddy runoff, downpours from the sky, or leakage from glaciers intermixed with boiling volcanic waters. We are infested with original thinking shaped by information and ideas from others. Our knowledge is like a bed of kelp that grows outward in the direction of nutrients and good temperatures.
Our seas generate waves of opinions and values that lap into neighboring waters. And we receive tidal currents from abroad, generally serene and pacific, but sometime riding on angry storms.
Our nations are collectives, homogeneous of origin. Each is unique, its people influenced by the same history and family ideals and government dictates. But between nations, we differ, one culture from the other. We cannot understand how others could get it so wrong. But the answer is simple. Our historical perspectives, our thought processes, are vastly different, one nation to another.
Infestation of the Asian Snakehead
Fish in America's Fresh Water Lakes
If you observe the US over the past 200 years, you will see a social condition on the move, and the direction is currently not good. From its origins, the US had continuity of immigrant spirit, people with the courage to leave their homeland because of religious or class (money) discrimination, determined not to emulate the same conditions in the new land. Thus was born the idea of "from many, one". E pluribus unum.
Infestation of Zebra Mussels
in the Great Lakes
The US waged war with itself to preserve the principle of equality for all. That was the great Civil War. After that, the nation's unrestrained but substantially law abiding competitive zeal led to the mechanization of industry, and the mechanization of defense . . . and war. Following came the modernization of social values that outlawed discrimination for the artificial reasons of race, gender, religion, age or physical condition.
But my how the storms raged. In the Philippines and Cuba against Spain in the late 1800's; then against the Philippines. In Europe, twice. In Asia: Korea and Viet Nam. In the Middle East: Iraq and Afghanistan.
Along the way, mechanization became anchored to technology, on little chips of mineral through which electric decisions pass by the trillions, "one or zero".
And the technology generated a giant new kelp bed. Runaway ideas. Sound bites. Deceits. News that is entertainment, a reach for audience and profits, not unfettered information or honest interpretation. The collective of skewed public utterances became a wild, uncontrollable infestation within a pool of good intent. And the system got clogged in divisive, partisan gridlock. In debates that poison.
Infestation of Manipulative
Ideologues in the US Congress
Today unthinking people in America, chewing mightily of some narrow-minded ideology, claim a good and earnest President is a "destructive force" in America.
They seek to undermine their own Commander in Chief.
Patriotism in America has diminished. It has morphed into some narrow idea that my way is the only way, and he who is against me is against America. It is one step from treasonous. E unus pluribum, or somesuch.
That's how muddied, how polluted, the American social sea has become.
The Philippines is different.
Isolated within surrounding waters, its social seas have remained constant for centuries. Little pools of behavior, tribal or feudal, walled off from one another by the limits of the land. 114 dialects. Good Lord, it is the land of Babel, literally.
Two great storms brought American social values to the Philippines. The Philippine American War and World War II. The Philippines was forever tainted by imported ideas. And the mix was bad. It created a nation of schools, but little was taught there of free thought or fairness or ambition. Obedience was taught. It became a nation of laws, and a Constitution, where laws were routinely ignored by the powerful or imposed for personal gain. It became a nation of commerce, where bribes were the oil that lubricated production. And that production was for self, not union.
The placid sea of separate social waters, tribes on islands, became a roiling mess of self-interest morphed onto a bastard democratic process, a confused stew of a nation.
You are what you are, and you cannot go back. You cannot push America out of your history. You cannot easily lever Ego and self-interest out of the Filipino psyche.
You can only try to direct where you go from here.
How to create order out of chaos and teamwork out of individual play.
I was interested to see how the Libyan rebels started to move from a haphazard collection of undisciplined rage to an army of strategy and discipline. They knew what they had to do, but struggled to get there. The rebel leaders tried to organize into a government, failed, and started anew. The fighting forces began to collect under respected leaders, and think ahead. But remained fractured.
But some began to organize, think and act strategically rather than transactionally. With a determined focus. How to seal off Tripoli. How to take Tripoli.
Almost two months ago, Tripoli residents, young men with families, who opposed Qaddafi were identified and pulled away from the fighting to organize as a specialized army to be used specifically to conquer Tripoli. The fighting rebel residents returned the other day to a home that welcomed them, because they were Tripoli, reborn. Thus, Libya tossed off the yoke of a tyrant.
The Philippines is by and large a lawless land that pretends otherwise. But it has a lawful president at the helm now. He reveals the amateur that he is from time to time, yes. What president does not, under the glare of everyday spotlights and automatic condemnation by those rubbed raw by his election victory? Or those sweating under the glare of his anti-corruption push? But President Aquino also reveals that he has principles and insights into how to build a modern nation.
- Work earnestly to create a peace with Muslim rebels. Negotiate, don't lay down the law. Explain, listen, be sincere.
- Pass an RH bill and other socially progressive legislation. Modernize national values.
- Relentlessly pursue the corrupt and re-key the culture as honest and forthright.
- Build a functioning military. A real navy. A real army. A real air force. Operate within a reasonable budget but move on a determined path. Move forward.
- Build a constructive bridge to China. Set the contentious Spratleys aside for now and get a framework of cooperation established.
The other day, the Philippine Navy launched a new warship. The crew trained in the US and learned the ways of the ship quickly. Of course it did. This is a seagoing nation. A nation of people who know how to execute if given clear direction.
And in that little kernel of discipline and achievement, we can see a new way forward. Not a war-mongering Philippines, as Proud Pinoy would want. But a disciplined Philippines. A Philippines with forward looking goals and plans, with purposeful actions, not selfish, disorganized reactions. Acts aligned within a strategy. Not transactions conducted because they seemed good at the time.
A nation with an idea that it indeed can be one, and proud of who it is. Not for its boxers or singers, but for its discipline and principles.