This blog will get to the heart of things. Of why Filipinos and Americans differ, culturally. I am not being a rude outsider because I am not describing a facet of Philippine cultural being. I am describing what is NOT THERE. I am describing a nothing. Air. A non-existence. Nobody is responsible for it. No one need take offense. It simply is not there.
First, let's define our terms. The Humpty Dumpty New World Dictionary defines "soul" as "that core part of the human entity that is beyond the reach of conscious thought".
What the hell does that mean, really?
|Or the Philippines', for that matter|
We tend to picture souls as those wispy, ghost-like creatures that emerge from their shell, the body, as they did at the end of "Raiders of the Lost Ark", floating skyward, or to hell, to rest forever in the great resting place of choice. Up or down. Where "choice" is the outcome of the weighing of our deeds on earth, good and bad, the tugging of God and Satan over our millions of decisions on earth.
Well, I think that picture is a little contrived by movie-land and the churches and we all end up going to the same place after we die. I suspect it is into nothing, but I have no idea. Wait long enough and you can find out for yourself. It is irrelevant to our soul. Here. On earth. While we are alive.
Here we are the sum of all our choices, what we learn, what we feel.
The conscious brain is like a sieve. The unconscious brain is like a filter. Combined, they observe our surroundings through the five senses and pick and choose what is appealing and not appealing, tending to direct the body toward that which is appealing. Most of the time we are aware of what it is doing; sometimes we are not. It is hidden to us.
The brain selects what is important and not important. And it selects what to recall and what to forget. Some brains seem lazier than others and allow information to leak out. It takes too much energy to store it where it can be found again. Others collect information like Grandpa Bubba collects stamps. Obsessively.
The brain works hard. But it is a filter to the soul. It is not the soul.
The soul, you see, is the residue of our values and our fears, our guilt and our happiness, our sorrow and our hope. It is what is left when you scrape all the shit away, the fakery that goes into living and trying to impress other people. When you get down to the core.
Indeed, there are differences, one person to another, one culture to another. Some individuals are prone to good, some to evil. Some cultures are prone to belligerence, some to peace. Some individuals and cultures are prone to giving, others are prone to taking. Well, in fact, most are prone to taking, for that is what survival means. Hanging on to stuff, and life, better than the next guy. Or the next nation.
That, my friends, is the key.
As we evolve, some individuals and nations come across a recognition that, in order to be more secure as a community, we have to give as individuals. This tendency of the individual to sacrifice for the good of the community gets internalized through years of education and reflection and acts. It becomes a part of our soul. We gain the most, individually, if we give to the community. We know it, and live it.
But this does not happen in the Philippines. Or has not happened yet. Or only has developed part way. Perhaps it is the separateness of the place that has held back this drive toward individual giving for the collective good. Too many islands. Too many dialects. Too many years as subjects of arrogant, racist colonizers, brutal warlords, or other powerful people. Taking is essential for survival if it is the only way.
Poverty and ignorance play a role. The college educated intellects running around in Manila can see the abuse of the seas as fishermen scrape the coast bare of fish, and the abuse of the mountains as loggers scrape the hillsides bare of trees, and the abuse of public trust as government workers grab all they can from the peoples' wallet. But they can't get rid of the ignorance that promotes these behaviors. Because ignorance is a nothing. It is not tangible. It is the absence of knowledge, the absence of understanding what is good for the community. It is a lack of problem-solving as a part of the psyche, a lack of the unconscious desire to be disciplined and creative and organized and productive.
When schools teach things instead of values, enlightenment never arises. Or when kids are not in school, and parents are unschooled, there is no way to get rid of the vacuity that ignorance represents.
Delta is the Greek alphabet character that looks like a triangle. In mathematics and science it symbolizes the difference between state A and state B.
- Many Filipinos lack the delta drive, the innate, unconscious dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs that drives one evermore toward change and growth and, yes, riches. Without cheating or using other people to their disadvantage.
America has a hyper-speed delta drive because it is populated by immigrant explorers who were determined to carve out a better life than they had in the place they left. Direction, determination, ambition. America and Americans are stuffed full with those traits.
Americans left oppressive nations to be able to worship as they chose, and write the laws by which they lived. They understood that their neighbors also wanted to be respected for their choices; compassion and courtesy became a part of daily life.
The Philippine national soul, if you add up the individual souls of the poor struggling masses, is fundamentally absent the motivation to grow, and it lacks the knowledge of how "my individual acts" are hurting the community. And by hurting the community, hurting the individuals within it.
Introspection is a major industry in the U.S. People examine every trend or decision and communicate it to others. Bad, selfish behavior is "outted" for what it is: damage to the community. Information is everywhere, and people read. Ethics is big in the US. And organizations like the Civil Liberties Union or Consumers Union act to defend citizens when the government fails to do so.
In the Philippines, a weak delta drive forces thoughts and acts toward individualistic behavior. It is a strange self-absorption, to an outsider. Taking, not giving. Rude treatment of others. A fuzzy definition of right and wrong that leads people to cheat for their advantage.
The weak delta drive is never revealed or recognized within the Philippines because people listen to the excuses and, indeed, buy in to them.
- "I have to cut down logs illegally to survive."
- "I have to use a small-scale fishing net to get what is there so my family can eat."
- "I have to supplement my income with under-the-table payments because my salary is so low."
Well, yes. That is true. So let's throw up our hands and rape the seas and the land and the people. What does that get you?
The land of rationalizations and happiness with the way things are.
The Philippine government, the place where national soul caretaking ought to reside, is itself locked into a kind of ignorance. An abject inability to see what to do, or to know how to do it. Whether this lack of a national delta drive is intentional (greedy people liking their place of power) or unintentional (not knowing any different) is a mystery to me. Either way, it is not good.
The main difference between the Filipino soul and the American soul as what is not there, in the Filipino national soul, and way too many individual souls. The knowledge and drive to find a richer, giving way forward.
The delta drive.