I muse about my disappearing act here. It is natural to want to explain why I took some time away from the keyboard. But I resist doing that and therein we have the subject of this blog.
It is common to the human condition, and to Filipinos for sure, to want others to see us as rational and smart and not prone to screw-ups. So if there is a hiccup in the daily routines, we tend to explain it so that others will think we were well justified to do what we did, and that we really couldn't do anything else.
Thus is born the excuse. My wife used one at the school the other day, waiting for junior to get out of his class. A "Born Again" enthusiast came up to read the bible with her.
"I need to call my husband," said my wife, as she quickly excused herself and went out to the street to wait. She has half of the equation correct. She explained to me later, in some amusement, "My life is my own. I don't want to read the bible. I want to listen to my I-pod."
The other half of the equation would be to tell the lady, "I admire your dedication to your faith, but I didn't come here for that." Then she ends the troublesome intrusion forever.
But it was a superb excuse, eh? Nothing to do with the truth, but useful. And Filipinos are notably good with excuses. And blames. And showing "victim", which is blame and excuse combined, to the nth power.
But you can compute it yourself. There are only a few reasons JoeAm took some time off:
- He had a heart attack or got smashed in a car wreck. That is, physical malady.
- Get Real Post finally drove him bonkers. He needed time in the sanitarium. That is, emotional malady.
- His computer got sick with the most irritating virus in the world, or the Globe tower blew down in a storm. That is, mechanical failure.
- He wanted to take a quick hop to Hong Kong to buy his wife some cheap diamond jewelry for her birthday. That is, love infringed on his typing time.
- The Embassy CIA dude called and sent him on a special mission to Mindanao to discover if tall guys are less prone to beheading than short women. That is, a patriotic mission.
- He had to go to Manila to scope out a business opportunity supplying poker chips, card decks and slot tokens to the four grand casinos being built there. That is, commercial opportunity.
Well, in the best military tradition, the reason is "need to know" and as near as I can tell, no one who reads this blog has any particular need to know.
So I resist. For the discipline of resisting. No explanation. No excuse. No blame. I'm sure you understand completely.
I also resist making excuses when I screw up. It is more honest and constructive to simply admit an error ("I was wrong about that!"). Just as I resist blaming others, except for the stupid maid who keeps moving my things around so I can't find them. And just as I don't consider myself a victim of God or the Devil or Filipinos . . . unless it its some insane government paperwork process or dealing with snooty sales clerks, then I claim right to exception.
And I also resist apologizing for much of anything. And I usually agree with others who refrain from apologizing for things. I sneer at those diplomats who whine all over the place seeking apology from other nations. Like China does, what a nut house. As if the Philippines needs to make China whole by apologizing for protecting Philippine territorial integrity. Give me a break! Give China the finger, Mr. President, not an apology. Sniveling little insecure brats . . .
I divorced my second wife in part because she was so insecure she went about apologizing to everyone for about everything she did. Drove me nuts.
If a mistake or misunderstanding or some harm was accidental, why apologize? No ill intent was intended. It just came out wrong, thanks to the interfering hands of the Fates or God or Satan or Chaos. Let THEM apologize.
Apology is in order if ill intent was planned, and the victim turned the tables and nabbed you at it. Mr. Corona owes the nation an apology for undermining the credibility of the courts.
Those who demand apology are needy people, trying to extract blood from your soul, wanting you to fess up that you are some kind of culprit so that they can feel good about themselves as victims.
Oh, wait! One other time apology is warranted: when it is a quick way to sooth ruffled feathers so that the dialogue can get back on track.
"I apologize if I expressed myself poorly. Here's what I meant to say."
In that vein, the apology is a form of accepting responsibility so that minor glitches can be put to rest and both parties can move on to important matters.
By the way, if you come across a misunderstanding, note that it can be handled one of two ways:
- By blaming: "You misunderstood me (you idiot)."
- Or accepting responsibility: "I'm afraid I didn't express that very well. Here's what I meant . . ."
Which do YOU use?
Which is the best approach to finding agreement?
In the Philippines, you generally see Case 1, the blame, because most conversations are win/lose arguments aimed at showing one person as superior to another. They are not aimed at finding agreement. Belittling the other party is as natural here as getting brown in the sun.
Finding harmony is generally not a goal in the Philippines. Dominance is.
So the point of this blog is discipline.
The discipline not to make excuses for oneself, or to cast blames on others. The strength to be straightforward. The wisdom to accept that mistakes, misunderstandings and harm are not intentional 98% of the time. Pursuing the integrity of harmony rather than confrontation.
Now about that CIA assignment . . . I may have another down time when I go to the Embassy to report on my findings about Mindanao. Let me tell you, that was an expedition to tell my grandkids about. First of all, one should not wear a trench coat, ala Columbo or Sherlock, when one is skulking through the jungles of Sulu looking for bad men to interview. They are hot and sweaty. The clothes, not the bad men. Although, come to think about it, they are likely hot and sweaty, too. And lose the fedora in favor of a big-ass straw Chinese hat that works like an umbrella on your head, for rain or shine, both of which there seem to be a lot of. But keep the drug pipe supplied by Mr. Holmes, for you'll need it . . . when the leaves nearby start rustling . . . and there is no wind . . .