Sacrifice of self is different in America than in the Philippines. The Golden Rule rules American values, the idea that courtesy is nice, the idea of contributing good behavior to the well-being of the nation. Self service rules Filipino values, and I don't mean pumping your own gas. Taking care of Number 1 is a Philippine passion. Laws are guidelines to be avoided if convenient. And when there are problems no one is ever to blame. Never. Ever. It is a land of problems and no solutions. There are no solutions because no one ever takes any responsibility for the things that need to be corrected.
Now, we all know JoeAm is often a puffed up, arrogant, overbearing opinion monger. Admit it. You've thought that on occasion when I'm dredging up personal experiences or wildly concocting opinions and ramming them down your throat. I confess. My father was an incredibly overbearing, opinionated man, German from the getgo, and maybe it's in the genes. Of course he was also right about 98% of the time. He disliked George Bush from the time the Texan walked into the Oval Office, even though Pop was an ardent Republican. "He's stupid" my father would exclaim with every decision Mr. Bush would make, or every time he would open his mouth.
Well, yes, Dad. He did fund two wars off budget and CUT taxes to raise the revenue to support them, which indeed is something a third grader could figure out would not add up right. And he passed the gigantic debt to his successor along with a global economic collapse.
But you know what else I do well, and what my father did well? I LISTEN. And I READ. I open my mind to a flow of fresh information. If it is in print, I read it, from Cosmopolitan which I glean for its intellectual substance in an average of 39 seconds, to Playboy which takes three hours and eight minutes to thoroughly review the articles, to the Wall Street Journal which depends a lot on what's in column one, to a huge historical novel or tense lawyering tale by John Grisham, to Google's scan of the daily news which freshens continuously and is unending as to topics covered. Politics, world news, technology, science, entertainment. Philippine news. I suck it all up like an industrial sized vacuum cleaner prying nails from wood.
Still, I don't try to memorize anything. I gave up memorizing when I crammed for my very last college examination a few (dozen) years ago. But somehow the important stuff settles in like a blanket of perspective on a brain piled high with prior readings. And I grab the few facts that are necessary for a good conversational moment.
Now, generally speaking (ride with me GabbyD; I know you are an exception) Filipinos neither read nor listen.
Frankly, it is the most amazing thing I've ever seen. So many Filipinos are so full of themselves but I don't know how they got full. They never replenish their ideas. Never grab new information. What percentage of homes do you figure have zero books? Where did their unbound self-confidence and certainty come from? From TV Patrol on ABS-CBN? From Showtime? From the tuba intellectual round table?
How did they get so absolutely certain they are right? No way is anybody going to convince a Filipino he is not right. These are minds protected with M-70 tank armor, like a robotic protecto-shield that slides up with every perceived criticism and allows no informational projectile to pass through. Suggestions, arguments and new information flow off like . . . well, like water off a duck's behind.
By the way, are there cormorants in the Philippines? They are in the U.S. and Australia. Big birds. They live near water and eat fish. They sit on a log and look like a bowling pin because their legs are attached to their butt instead of their belly like a duck's. And their bill rises naturally skyward, for in the water, they propel themselves beneath the surface like a torpedo, the legs being the propeller and the beak the homing device that goes for the fish. Their feathers are not waterproof like a duck's, giving them a sleeker underwater ride. But when they try to fly afterwards, they are so sogged with water they are lucky to get six inches into the air. You'll often see them on the shore, wings outstretched, drying the feathers so they CAN fly.
God did a fine job giving all his creatures the qualities they need to survive.
What happened to the Filipino ability to listen, to reflect, to adapt, to grow?
Maybe God was napping that day.
Here are words that do not exist in any of the 114 Philippine dialects as far as I can tell:
Well, certainly I could be wrong. With 92 million people already here and 1.7 million new mouths being added per year, there is a good statistical probability that there will be a lot of exceptions, kind and humble people who want to fill up on knowledge rather than block it.
Do you want to be absolutely sure you are not a block head? I've got some tips for you. Actually, only two tips and I'm betting they can actually change a person's character (if necessary) from block head to a veritable vacuum cleaner of knowledge and insight and . . . yes, diplomacy, too. That is, if courtesy is considered a good thing . . .
- Number one, the hard one. Set a goal to read books. Fiction preferably. Start with one book a month then move to one every two weeks. It doesn't matter much what you read. Mysteries. Sci-fi. Movie themes. Whatever you enjoy. Why? To limber up your mind to new visions, those of the author. It is like physical exercise, once you start, it is in your blood. Or mind. It is like stretching. You'll soon crave the next book. And when your mind gets used to all the new thinking, the drama, the language, the culture, guessing as to what will happen next, it opens you up to anything. Opens your mind wide. To anything. It becomes natural to receive ideas and information, to welcome them. Not deflect them. Reading is the worm hole to a new universe.
- Number two, the easy one, but tricky. Whenever you read or hear something you disagree with, ask yourself "why does this person believe this?" Not "I must tell him how wrong he is and thereby prove my intellectual superiority". It is not a battleground, the mind. It is an open field for enlightenment. Instead of telling the other person why his thinking is wrong, explore for yourself why he thinks it is right. Try really hard to get into his cranium. Usually there is a legitimate reason. His cultural background is different, he worked in a different field, he had some experience that shaped his view. Discover it. Then watch in amazement as you grasp a new "understanding" rather than protect yourself from it.
Piece of cake . . . easy as pie . . .
By the way, do y'all have buzzards in the Philippines?