If sex scandals in the Church, graft and corruption in government, criminality and vice in
society, police bumbling and Senate inanities were not enough of a Gethsemani for us! In addition, we have an enduring Pinoy game that prevents us from fulfilling the Gospel, from living the truth and
bearing witness to the truth. It keeps us from getting ahead.
What Pinoy game? Judging persons or issues on the basis of conjecture and narrow perspectives. How we enjoy speculating and making
serious commentaries on speculations! It is an armchair industry thriving in the public arena, practiced by most everyone at various levels of society. But when decision makers, opinion makers,
and media practitioners play the game, the result is damaging.
Illustrative case. Criticisms of the recent Government and MILF agreement are, as one serious and balanced political analyst has
correctly said, "long on conjecture but short on facts" or words to that effect. Another illustration. Criticisms of the Balikatan
exercises are saddled with similar fantastic conjectures, such as the possible use of nuclear arms, the deployment of a U.S. warship, the transformation of Mindanao into a battlefield and/or into a region of prostitution, destruction of Philippine sovereignty, rampant violation of human rights, the onset of U.S. military aggression, etc., etc.
A version of this game of conjecture is criticism by hindsight. There is enough time for rational debates to take place before decisions are made. But how we love to criticize on the
basis on hindsight! We even attribute ulterior motives, usually political, to anything that could favor this or that political person. If the President does her job well and visits the provinces
to see for herself what is happening among the people, she is damned for "preparing for 2004". If she does not, she would probably be damned for not doing her job and making decisions from an ivory
tower in splendid isolation.
This game is one of our favorite national pastimes. How petty, negative and destructive we can be! Is this part of our damaged culture? Perhaps we can somehow
pass the blame to the vestiges of colonialism in us>
Sometimes we are amazed at our own creativity, our ability to spin theories based on nothing but hearsay regarded as objective reality. This
exasperating game is played out fully in various venues, in media, and, yes, even in the House of Representatives – like a telenovela that does not seem to satiate curiosity and gullibility.
Moreover, public opinion today seems to be quite frequently based on narrow perspectives. This is a typical Pinoy game. We have all probably played it. I have seen it at the sitio
– grassroots – level, as I would sit with farmers after a supper of fish and vegetables (spiced with delicious ginamus!) and listen to them talk about the failures and foibles of government. I
have also watched the game played by highly educated opinion-makers. It is fascinating to watch. But the game unfortunately hinders progress.
Many examples of this game abound in media that report
one-sided erroneous perspectives. Sometimes it is the news that gives the wrong perspective. Even now the Church is being battered by case after case of sexual abuse that most obviously do not
reflect the behavior of the great majority of the clergy. Remember how one charitable house for unwed mothers was pilloried because a newspaper claimed that it was meant to hide the secret sins of
priests? Yet thousands of unwed mothers, victims or partners of their own boyfriends, relatives, officemates, teachers, etc., have passed through its confidential, kind and compassionate ministry. The
case is a simple lack of perspective, of mistaking a few trees for a forest.
Sometimes it is the news writer or the opinion writer that has this narrow perspective. An example. The writer could be
weaving conclusions from an old and outdated ideological stand, that used to claim a monopoly of "historical and scientific analysis". Unfortunately, the ideology has not been updated, at least in our
country, so as to take in new geopolitical realities. The same analytical framework, the same language, the same conclusions. The writer is tragically caught in a time warp. Understandable,
if the ideology were a religion, dealing with essences and absolutes rather thatn with time-conditioned realities.
At other times it is persons being written about that exhibit this intellectual malady of
narrow perspectives. One glaring example. Many people say that our Senate has become a circus. This contention would be funny if it were not so painful. The honorable members seem to
be affected by a destructive virus. They are seen as substituting their own self-interests for the interest of the common good. The common good is ignored. Even worse, they cold identify their
own narrow interests with the common good – in which case, the malady is malignant. This is the power game at its worst. But the present version in the Senate, alas, is a direct legacy of the
ill-starred Erap administration.
The end result of senatorial lack of proper perspective? Another hole in the head for the Pinoy, already debilitated by many disasters, both natural and "man-made".
A reader could say that I am making conclusions from anecdotal examples. The reader might be right. I could myself be a prime example of judging by conjecture or narrow perspective! May the
Lord have mercy.