Thursday, November 25, 2004

Vicarious 2

In Cubao, my favorite part of town, television reporter Dolan Castro and his camera man get shoved by policemen out of a police station for documenting what could be another case of police brutality. A suspect being held at the station gets beaten up while while in police custody. Dolan Castro was accused of obstructing justice and harboring a criminal.

I got news for Dolan. What happened to the suspect routinely happens to other suspects in police custody in these parts. It's unlawful, it's barbaric, but hey, it's "mob justice" and the suspect's probably had it coming. Besides, it's Crime's symbolic comeuppance and the Universal Filipino's vicarious satisfaction.

Vicarious. Adjective. Meaning "experienced secondhand." Because apparently we cannot get justice firsthand, being as "poor" and "downtrodden" by Large Evil Forces as we especially are. Poor us; we're such victims.

As a people, we cling to our victim mentality for dear life, as if our letting big iniquity simply pass us by entitles us to restitution. And when we find small inequity (read: inconvenience) we overreact, with wooden clubs, the hidden illegal firearm, with screaming, and the threat of bringing the fury of the patron-- be he saint, politician, cop or jueteng lord-- to bear on the perceived Doer of Evil. Even if all he did was get into "our lane," "our parking space, et cetera" first.

Those of us who believe we live in a democracy should take a second look at the individuals that make up the one we're supposedly living in. Most of us are neither aware of what a democracy is and the individual responsibilities living in one entails, nor are we mature enough to take responsibility for our lives-- individual and collective.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Vicarious 1

My Pop and I finally agree on something we can talk about in public-- we don't like Nicole Richie. Check that, we don't like Paris Hilton either. And we don't like any iteration of "The Simple Life."

It's nice, seeing purty city gals having to stick their arms in cows' beehinds-- you can even call it a symbol of the upper classes' comeuppance, if you have Class Warfare as your guiding world view-- but it gets old. And it gets old a lot quicker since you know the thrill for what it is --vicarious.

Paris and Nicole are out there making fools of themselves, whoopee. But what are we doing snickering at their antics and making bigger fools of ourselves? Look at it from any angle and we're still more pathetic than they ever will be. At the end of the day, they're still rich and famous to boot, while we're still jobless or stuck in jobs we'd rather not have. If we want to be Christian and charitable about it, they're developing-- interacting with folk and making their mistakes and (hopefully) learning from them-- and what have we got to show for our time on the planet?

Makes me wanna get off my ass and make another shot at looking for a job.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Those Dratted Moral Values

Paraphrased from a local daily-- "the perception of moral values carried the day for the Bush team."

The key word here is "perception."

Apparently it is the more moral thing to instigate and condone a war nobody needs, publicly citing self-defence reasons that don't exist. It is more moral, apparently, to lie to your own people about the "justness" of the same war. It is more moral, apparently, to directly add to the misery being felt worldwide by seizing oil that isn't yours via the same unneeded war, sparking multiple increases in the price of oil in countries that can ill-afford them. It is also more moral, apparently, to endorse the gagging of dissent, running roughshod over the dignity of your own people who just happen to be Muslim and of Mid-Eastern Ethnicity, and/or against the war.*

It is more moral, it seems, to keep the guy allied with the Gun Lobby in office.


*I won't deny that Islamic extremists are constantly trying to destroy the USA; I'll grant getting rid of Saddam was a good thing. But scurrying around like frightened rats is every time Osama Bin Laden airs a video on Al-Jazeera is exactly the response he wants. Saddam was a pariah even to his fellow Muslim heads of state before the war; now he's a martyr. Catholics in pre-9-11 Iraq were at least tolerated: now there are reports of them being actively threatened with bodily harm, simply because they're Christian. Many of them are headed for the border, knowing full well that it was a shmuck purporting to represent their Evangelical Separated Brethren who started this mess. Thanks a lot George.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


Today, I eat my metaphorical shorts. My sister direly predicted a Bush win. But I held on to my optimism and my belief that given enough time and information, Americans could see past their parochial nationalism, and vote the guy eating paste out of office. I was wrong.

While Bush was busy eating paste, his lieutenants were campaigning at the grass levels.

They were in churches and synagogues, reaching out to rural/suburban evangelical America --who apparently number more than the city-bred liberals I feel a spiritual kinship with-- raising the specters that haunt them close to home. Manifestations of Liberal Evil such as Gay Rights and the erosion of "Moral Values"; the displacement of the American Jesus(1) from His temporal American throne. They were also online, blogging and webcasting, raising the other specters that haunt white America: tighter gun regulation; the prospect of another unforseen attack by Islamic militants; the neutering of American military and economic superiority in the world stage.

Having lost the presidency and both majorities in congress and the senate, Democrats must deal with certain hard facts even as they lick their collective wounds.

1. A large portion of America is in love with "God." In this age where Creationism and rabid Christian fundamentalism can find more than a foothold in the rock face of American society, Democrats must learn to talk more about God-- however they perceive Him. That, in my book, is the only way they will reach some understanding with the segments of America who think of Democrats as amoral and godless purveyors of The Satanic Agenda.

2. A large portion of America is still parochial. It's too easy to parse the world into Us vs. Them or Moral Clarity vs. Moral Relativism. It takes a mind that is open and privy to events happening in the world-at-large to even begin to grasp the increasing complexity of that same world: one that consists of interdependent nations. This handicap, plus George's unwavering categorical pronouncements (and George Dubya's likeability-- because the bastard is likeable) may have kept Americans from appreciating the more nuanced Democrat stand vis-a-vis Iraq, or the "War on Terror."(3)


The damage has been done: Bush and Cheney have another four years to screw over the rest of the world. Or maybe not. If some analysts are to be believed, a second Bush administration may be (gasp!) more centrist.

The strutting, belligerent teenager (George Dubya) has already beaten his father by being given an uncontested second term. He has nothing else to prove now, so his military adventurism may be curbed. Too, his last misadventure in Vietraq is bound to siphon away US funds, so another unilateral invasion against a perceived "evil state" may be too costly.(4) Citing the same costliness, the United States will be forced into a mode more open to negotiations-- they will still have to depend on states like China when dealing with problem states like North Korea.

Interesting. Let's see what the next four years wll have in store. I'm praying Bush stops eating paste and starts wising up before he nukes the world.

(1) They forget that Jesus was not American. Judaism and Christianity were born in the East. He has been continually used as a rallying symbol by the people who have appropriated Him to justify their agendas-- note the Crusades.

(2) Too, Ralph Nader may have taken away the votes that could have gone to Kerry. I guess I may have to eat my own arguments against voting on the basis of "winnability." But then with an election as important as this one, with an opponent as monolithic as the Bush Campaign Engine, perhaps my original "vote for who you want" argument need not apply...

(3) Notice too, how easy it is to light a fire under the average American-- simply wave the flag.

(4) Apparently governments don't look at cost in terms of human lives ruined and lost, but they will heed cost warning signs in terms of money. How nice.