Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ignorance: One Step Short of Lunatic

I suspect that many people consider ignorance to mean unschooled, or uneducated, or uninformed. As if it were caused by someone else's failure to teach.

But ignorance is a condition that reaches even the educated. It does not mean stupidity or a slow mental capacity. It means intellectually blind.

Indeed, the blindness can be caused by lack of education. Or it can be caused by barriers to awareness. Psychological barriers. Emotional barriers.

Take the case of the politician who sets out to win office by crafting himself as the perfect candidate. In that aim to "show" perfection, he employs spin doctors and political strategists and advertising wizards and they set out to re-define the candidate. As perfect. His strengths are embellished, his achievements are glorified, his dedication to high purpose is amplified. His mistakes are reasoned away, his flip-flops excused by changes in circumstances, his weaknesses re-cast as humility and compassion.

As the campaign wears on, the candidate begins to believe his own bull shit. A creeping arrogance sets in, especially if the candidate finds success in the polls or elections. The people around him seek to please him, putting him at the center of attention and inflating his sense of importance. They censor out bad news and elevate the good news. He starts to discount contrary views. He soon is operating in a bubble of self-surrounded reality.

Now he is ignorant.

When he started, he was merely ambitious. Now he is flying blind.

This is what happened to U.S. President George W. Bush. The man who invaded Iraq soon became ignorant of the situation IN Iraq, and the mood of America turning against him. Hubris it was called. Then came hurricane Katrina and an emergency response that was delayed, disorganized and callous toward the suffering poor. The president's sense of self had become so distorted that every step he took was shocking for its lack of sensitivity. The missteps are too embarrassing to recount.

This compassionate, intelligent, well-intended man grew blind to the real world surrounding him. He became ignorant, living in a bubble that separated him from the real world.

That is how I view many Filipinos. I have no idea what percentage of the population they comprise. Maybe it is just a few in the legislature, but I doubt it. You who are more familiar can let me know. Or tell me I am absolutely wrong if my reading is incorrect. I'm only trying to characterize what I see here and there.

Ignorant Filipinos (just like ignorant Americans) are blind to the real world around them. They may not be politicians, but they build artificiality around their view of the outer world.

Some believe they are Christian but behave in the most un-Christ-like ways imaginable. Rude, inconsiderate, uncompassionate, willing to cheat.

They believe they are proud, but in truth merely prop up their self-esteem by attaching their worth to the wins of a boxer or beauty contestant or singer.

They blindly succumb to the surreal emotional drive called "face", a need to win every perceived interpersonal contest. Putting others down to somehow gain face. Using excuses or blames to justify a mistake or failing. Pasting over truth because it may cost face.

They live in a bubble of reality formed by their own inability to accept certain facts. Usually those attached to their own humanity, their own natural fallibility. As if it were a flaw of character to fart, to do that which comes naturally.

Making mistakes is what we humans do. We are imperfect sentient beings in a world full of flawed communication and unpredictable events.

Mistakes are not failure. Failure is the inability to grasp the REASON for the mistakes, the inability to identify what could be done differently without assigning blame. Ignorance is a barrier to learning.

Let me say that again. It is important. It is not failure to make a mistake. That is humanity. It is failure not to own up to the mistakes, thereby failing to learn. And improve next time.

The failure is in the REPEATED MISTAKES that are not used as lessons. The failure is in the barrier to education.

The Philippines is an amalgam of failures but you will hear no one claim a part in them. Thus they endure.

There is a gross failure to recognize that not following  rules puts lives at risk. You say you want the proof, I say go look at the pictures of all those logs floating down the Cagayan de Oro River, alongside of which are the bodies deemed irrelevant to anyone who chooses to turn away and not connect their own cheating to those bodies. It's not the first time. It happened last year just up the road at Gingoog City.

Failure to anticipate. You want proof? Look at all the buildings rotting because maintenance was not included in the financial pro-forma.

Failure to respect. You want proof? Look at the condescending attitude of bank or government officials toward those ordinary people simply needing a little help.

Failure to think. Count up to 1.7 million. That is the number of babies born in the Philippines last year. You can't count that high, but the nation has to feed them every day. School them. Try to give them jobs and houses and health.

And it will fail.

When is the last time you heard a Filipino government official say, "yes, it would have been better if we had passed the HR Bill in 1990."?

When is the last time you heard a legislator say, "Yes, poverty is my responsibility. I have power and I have not done enough to fix it."

Whose name will get attached to the logs now floating in the sea off the coast of Cagayan de Oro?

When is the last time you heard an authority of the Catholic Church say, "Yes, we play an important part in what the Philippines is today, both good and bad."

Why is "bad" never associated with the deep engagement the Church has in the Philippines. Why is poverty the sole fault of government, when the Church meddles in that government? Priests live life in a bubble of posture and pretense that ignores the truth of their acts. They might as well be politicians, or used car salesmen, or actors. Man, put them on the stage. Act 2012 forthcoming.

Surreal. People living detached from truth. They are deceitful in the slippery way they try to shape reality with their words, the way they abandon responsibility.

Life is a Get Real blog site, eh?

Self discovery and self-improvement are blocked by preservation of "face", the need to defend oneself at every turn.

Ignorance. That's what it is. Self delusional self protection.

One step short of lunatic.


  1. Ignorance is bliss, though it only applies to the ignorant person. For everyone else, it's either pitiable, annoying, or simply inconvenient.

    In the case of the Philippines, it's an inconvenience for the citizens, an inconvenience that may cause their lives.

    In this country, we have public officials ignorant of the fact that women die because of childbirth, nevermind the numbers, no woman should die without a choice when giving birth to new life.

    There are public officials who wish for special treatment, effectively trumping the rights of some individuals whose very interests they were elected to represent.

    And of course, the priests/pastors/brothers who abuse their position for their selfish wants, whether it be financial, sexual, sadistic or plain egotistical, throwing away their "souls" for earthly wants, sometimes in front of the followers they had wished to inspire.

    Oh my Philippines, I'm starting to lose hope in your future.

  2. Anon, yes, self-service has been refined in the Philippines. But don't lose hope, an awakening is taking place. The next 20 years will be dramatic.

  3. If one of the oldest university in Asia, UST, stumbled on their attack on bloggers I just wonder how the rest of the Filipinos think ...

    If senate prosecutors cannot know their ethics and responsibilities, I just wonder how the rest of the Filipinos think ...

    If Philippine Media are sooo ignorant, I just wonder how the rest of the Filipinos think ...

    Something is totally wrong with Filipinos ... But they do have a glimmer of intelligence, ALL OF THEM. They always blame the government they elected that screw the Philippines not them, the electorates.

    The reason why the Filipinos always vote for the wrong guy in the house and the highest office of the land is their over reliance on biased un-intelligent Philippine Media.


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