So many things have happened recently that have caused such a backlash: starting from Grace Poe’s citizenship case, Duterte’s victory, Trump’s victory, and Marcos being buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. If only the reactions were just as interesting. One day you have protests on the streets and the next you see some of the same protestors hitting it up at Starbucks. At times I think maybe Zizek was right in saying that all this action – online or otherwise – is just an acting out, not for the crowd, but for the actors. And as always, I rely on a passage from Chesterton on this topic of rebels:
But the new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. . . . As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. . . . The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything. (Orthodoxy)
So: reactions are just uninteresting because the reactors are not that interesting in themselves. Sure we can hate on Trump and Duterte for being this and that…and so we’re pro-manners? Then there’s that familiar adage that goes “just because I’m anti-X, doesn’t mean I’m pro-Y.” While it’s logic is sound, but wholly uninteresting and at times makes someone really come off as a prick. Likewise, does being anti-misogyny make you pro-equality? Or let’s just assume it since nobody bothers to bring it up (why would anyone be anti-equality anyway?). It would have been more fascinating if rebels these days actually had a creed – now that would be something. But maybe we millenials aren’t hip enough to be Apostles.
Having nothing (specific) to stand for places some doubt on why should certain issues be of particular importance. Are we faced battling a multitude of pro-X’s and anti-Y’s? Is this just part of the trendy arena of identity politics taking over discourse today? In this sense, maybe Fight Club is prophetic:
“The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make these appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural; and he may well be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience. When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal ways of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock — to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost blind you draw large and startling figures.” – Flannery O’Connor
I ordered a Nescafe shake from FamilyMart at the UP Town Center last night. When I got the cup I walked to the dispenser to fill it up. What came out, however, was a shake but how it would look like after a few hours under the sun. The drink was just coffee with ice, sugar, and milk. I asked the cashier about it and told him that this was not a shake. He answered, “Yun nga lang, sir x x x” I think any law student would agree that his answer miserably failed to tender an issue. But these are the answers we get everyday from people in authority. We are beset by a sheer inability to tender straight answers to real questions. Also yesterday on the radio, someone was talking about the power generation issue in Mindanao and that the necessary equipment, despite being in the pipeline last year, was only going to arrive in another two months time. Summer would be over by then, assuming it gets here on time. How crazy can you get with this? It’s just nonsense.
After it all, I just kept the watery shake. What was the point in complaining over a P30 purchase. The cashier offered to put ice in my cup which only got me to shake my head. People really do not get the point: I came in looking for a shake and I get a watery cup of coffee. To remedy that, he gives me ice. GIVE ME A SHAKE! Sigh. Welcome to the Philippines.
Just recently while scrolling down my Facebook news feed I came upon a post which got me thinking. It was a livebuzz article about a Brazilian graphic designer and her illustrations concerning women empowerment. Surely, the world is hardly short of feminists these days. I hesitate to claim that it is a fad (wasn’t it a 60s-70s thing?), but it does carry a buzz when a female acquaintance declares, “Yes I’m all for feminism” and then starts giving you a lecture about the equal protection clause and the machinations of The Man. Whether or not the “I’m a feminist” card is a fad or not, its claims have managed to find their way into Facebook, or my feed rather. There are claims more radical that what their authors probably have thought and their rather ubiquitous character only adds to my interest. Here is one illustration:
“You are the only authority of your body and your identity!” The first obstacle is probably the fact that it sounds more like the ravings of a spoiled toddler who refuses to share the toys at the playpen: “MY TOY! MINE! MY RULES!” Children say these things all the time and adults scold them. But what of adults? Well, all we can do is pray and hope that they are open to reason. The illustration was right to highlight four words: YOU, AUTHORITY, BODY, and IDENTITY. All of which are problematic and yet they are all in one sentence, giving us a philosophical quadruple whammy. Well, the first question that stands out is by what authority can you claim that you are the authority of your body and identity? Authority is delegated – a fact that law students are well aware of. Authority is drawn ultimately from the volunté general, God, a supreme being, the Constitution, aliens, wikipedia, or whatever. Law student or not, the fact remains that a taxi driver cannot call on the armed forces of the Philippines to suppress rebellions or whatnot simply because he grants himself the authority to do so. It is only the President since that is provided in the Constitution (but not for traffic), and the Constitution itself draws from the sovereign will of The People, whoever they are. Even in the first level of questions, we get this kind of problem. It’s just like in childhood when all questions starting with “why” end up with the answer of “because I said so!”. Just think of the problems from “You” or “Identity” even “Body”. *shudder*
On another note, it really strikes me as strange to go on and make the same claim as the illustration above. Strange because, like all good efforts at deception, there is a truth in it. Good lies break the truth, great lies bend it. There is a truth, albeit half-baked or deformed, but authentic truth in it nonetheless which renders it so believable. But the focus of this entry is merely the deception – the idea that we can be self-granting authorities. The claim gets thrown around in advertisements, movies, radio, nearly everywhere and we hardly bat an eyelash. A closer look though would give a clue. Nearly all the apps are centered around us – slowly we are writing out own autobiographies and working full time for that matter. The apps are turning us into professional documentary filmmakers of our own lives and by the time we are done, we realize that we hardly had enough time even to view the films of others. “What’s on your mind?” “Compose new tweet.” IG it. A liked your post. B checked in at Z. Maybe in a way the social network was a pandora’s box. A tool of virtually limitless opportunities for connectivity while simultaneously carrying the temptation to center our world on ourselves. Ever see that family across the table in some fancy restaurant all flicking their smartphones? Something like that. Lots of material has already been going around at the (anti)social network but nothing drives home the point like a quiet table over good food.
So how much are we willing to pay for free WiFi? Our social lives? Some already have paid that price. Weird, but that’s the way the world goes these days. Maybe this all adds up to how some people can declare themselves as their own authorities and go doing whatever they want. It is a symptom of vanity and of a creature who was molded in the image and likeness of God. Strange now that I think about it. Wasn’t that the story in Eden?
We are all our parents’ children after all.