Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Before you Spam, Think!

I just got this in my Inbox today:

"Subject: Patronize Pirated DVD's

This is a text message currently circulating within the Philippines.

PLS patronize pirated DVD's so that the Filipino movie industry will die & we will no longer have actors, actresses, nor their spouses running for public office. Pls pass."

I hope that was forwarded in attempts at humor. Because it's so wrong on so many levels.

1) Perhaps I'm non-elitist in my view that just because you're an actor/actress doesn't necessarily mean you'll be a horrible politician. Herbert Bautista, for example, seems to do okay as vice mayor of Quezon City (but then again, it's usually Mayor Sonny Belmonte who's in the limelight). In the US, Governor Arnold Schwarzanegger (sorry if I spelled that wrong) seems to be doing well. Oh, and Ronald Reagan was a professional actor before he got elected as a president of the United States.

2) The author is assuming that just because no actor/actress is running for public office that the country will be a better place. No it won't -- we just end up with less scapegoats. I'm sure that there are other politicians who are worse that the so-called actors/actresses. The latter just draw more attention to themselves. And in the end, what perpetuates "corrupt" and "immoral" politicians aren't necessarily the politicians themselves but the system that contributes to it and the citizens that vote for them. That, my friends, is what it means to live in a democracy.

3) The point of patronizing pirated DVDs, according to the forwarded email, claims to do two things: to kill the local movie industry and so that no more actors/actresses will run for public office. First off, even assuming it does what the author wants it to do, what does that say of our country? That we need to resort to non-lawful means to achieve the results we want?

4) Again, assuming that it does what it's supposed to do, killing the local movie industry hurts a lot of innocent people and not just those planning to run for public office in the future. Who will feed the families of the various actors/actresses, directors, make-up artists, stylists, cameramen, stuntmen, extras, etc.? If the original writer could reply, he or she might say that's a "necessary sacrifice". But isn't that the state of the Philippines right now? Comfort for a privileged few in exchange for the suffering of the many? Aren't we simply trading one evil for another?

5) A spin-off of #3, it's honestly not the current actors/actresses who are running for public office. It's the actors/actresses who have retired from acting that are running for public office. In fact, what we should do is to encourage these people to keep on acting and leave the politicking to politicians. Killing the local movie industry will only motivate them more to run for office because they think they can fix things now that their life is more difficult than it was before.

If you don't want to vote for a certain politican -- don't. If you want to run an anti-campaign, fine. But please do not make broad, sweeping generalizations that simply do not work and floods my inbox.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Election Season

It's finally here and one realizes it when the topic of discussion at the dinner table is politics. Who's running, who's not running, and what's changing in the status quo.

Also over the weekend, I've been receiving text messages from various entities about their political platform. And the radio seemed to be talking about boxer Manny Pacquiao running for political office but perhaps the bigger shock to me was crossing our street and seeing stickers of "Goma for Senator"--not that I have anything against actors/actresses running for public office of course. It's just becoming all too common (but is similarly an effective method) here in the Philippines.

My brother has also been pondering what the message on Binay's T-shirt means: "Best in Asia, 4th in the World." See World Mayor for the answer.

Oh, and I remember my political science teacher telling us what the Greeks called people ignorant of the political climate: idiot.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Politics and Religion

I question the belief that the two are separate, or that they should be so. When the Philippines claimed “independence” from its Spanish conquerors, one of the proposed constitutions was the distinction between church and state (a reaction to some of the corrupt practices of the church during that era). Yet I don’t think that separation was fully upheld. Our Catholic forbearers remained Catholics, and they put into practice their religious belief, be it in their political life or their personal life. Nowadays, one can’t make a political decision without taking into consideration the reaction of the church – and in many ways, it does hold a vestige of authority in the country. Many theorize, and I agree with this proposal, that the reason why population control in the country was never successful in a post-Marcos era was because of the church’s stance against the use of alternative methods of family planning (the only option given to married couples are withdrawal or the rhythm method). Of course the educated of our society will rebel at this idea, at how religion interferes with the state. Yet taking a closer look, in certain ways, such unity is inevitable.

What most people fail to see is what politics and religion have in common. More than the propaganda of politicians or the promises of salvation by religion, the common cause of the two is that they both unite people. Whenever a civilization congregates into a cohesive force, they’re usually following a political ideal (i.e. something as simple as fair wages to something as complex as democracy) or a religious one. In fact, I don’t really see any distinction between the two except for the fact that most people treat the latter as irrevocable truth and the former as a necessary evil. What I find interesting is how the two forces manipulate people into following their tenets. Politics usually employs force of the law in the real world, either a fine or some physical punishment. Religion, on the other hand, employs something subtler. It can be punishment in the form of being socially ostracized, and in some cases, actual physical recompense. However, more often than not, religion threatens your faith, usually the afterlife, more than having an immediate, real-world impact on the offender.

The literati might clamor for a clear distinction between the two yet society’s answer is otherwise. Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is for all intents and purposes a Catholic-centric city. I can only assume since I have no experience with Mindanao that that part of the country is similarly Islamic-driven in nature. Yet ours is far from a unique case. I mean one simply needs to look at America, a nation of the free and hodgepodge of cultures. Yet if we are to believe the courtroom dramas we see on television, why does their judicial system swear on the Bible for witnesses to testify the truth? If I weren’t a Christian, aren’t I less obligated to state the truth considering my oath to honesty is less binding than that of a Christian believer? Of course colonial America is merely one example of religion seeping into a country’s political system. There’s China for example, where preaching and distribution of the Bible has been restricted by the government to say the least. And what of various other Islamic countries where obviously, Islam is the dominant religion and how it wields much authority in the political arena?

As much as people want to separate the two, I think the telltale signs of any civilization is the existence of politics and religion, and how it manages to govern the lives of its members. Would it be possible to live in a country where the two are clearly and cleanly separated? If only the human psyche can be broken down into distinct components but alas, we are all but too human, and we must accept things in their totality than simply by their individual parts. Even if our political system was segregated from religion, our political leaders will no doubt still be influenced by their political beliefs.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Politics and Religion

Every so often, I’d hear a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger mention that the Church (The Catholic Church) shouldn’t meddle in politics, and cite the separation of state and religion in our constitution. To me, it sounds like the same complaint of an employee frustrated at office politics. As much as we don’t want it, it’s still there. Part of the reason is perhaps their expectation of the church’s role. They want religion to be simply just that—religion and not politics. However, what a lot of people fail to realize that religion, for better or for worse, is really a political force, albeit under a different name.

Honestly speaking, while the various religions in the world claims it has good intentions, it does not erase the fact that they are political entities. In an extreme view is Marx, who claimed that religion is the opium of the masses. I won’t go that far, but it is true that religion have certain ideologies, and they do govern people in one way or another through these ideologies. It could be something as a holiday. While a holiday might not seem big to most people, holidays are still days when citizens do not work and stop being productive in society (in terms of being utilitarian, of course, as citizens become productive in other ways too). And sometimes, the religion of a nation wields so much influence that the holiday is enforced by the government as well.

One merely needs to look at history to find further proof. Islam and Christianity have commanded kings and rulers, dictated policies and gained concessions, and last of all, declared wars. People might say I’m merely focusing on these two religions, but the thing with other religions is that they aren’t as popular to wield much influence, or in the case of Buddhism, their doctrine doesn’t encourage them to meddle in the affairs of others (salvation is from within, not from without). Buddhism actually wields much political power, it simply doesn’t choose to exert it. It can suggest actions to its conclave, but it can never command, at least if they want to remain faithful to their beliefs. Now most people’s reaction might be why can’t those two other popular religions be like Buddhism? That they shouldn’t meddle in the affairs of the world? The honest-to-good-answer is that they can’t. Because they’d be hypocrites if they were (although some would claim they’re already hypocrites, most don’t intend to be so).

Christianity, for example, has this pro-active stance of salvation. It means converting the non-believers, preaching (their) God’s word, and more importantly, acting in a way good Christians should act. And while some people would argue that the worst atrocities stem from the best intentions, good intentions are the stepping stones of a virtuous life. And for better or for worse, Christianity isn’t an isolationist religion. In order to be a good Christian, one needs to be aware of other people’s needs, to be aware of what’s happening with your neighbor, to be aware of what’s happening in the world around you. As my pastor would say, there is no undercover Christian. Unfortunately for some people, this also means meddling in the government’s affairs. Because how else can you affect the world around you? One simply can’t stand in one place and expert the world to change. If you want religion to stop meddling in government affairs, don’t change government law, change church doctrine.

That’s not to say I’m condemning or supporting church participation in government. I’m merely here to show the state of things. It’ll help people understand their religion’s actions, and their motivations for doing so (and why you can’t easily dissuade them). That’s also not to say that a church-state would be an abhorrent thing. Speculative fiction writers like Frank Herbert (Dune) and Isaac Asimov (Foundation) have postulated religion-state universes. In a way, such a system is much more inefficient: crimes are heresy as well, so whereas your family won’t turn you in if you committed a crime, they will when you commit sacrilege. And in a church-state, there really is no distinction between the two. For another, there’s less schizophrenia on what actions one should take. There won’t be situations where the government says one thing and your religion says another thing (because honestly, some people do factor in religion when making decisions). On the other hand, paranoiacs and conspiracy-theorists will have a field day as political power is all lumped in one source. And a church-state is just as prone to corruption and deceit as any other political institution.

I think what many people fail to realize is that political power does not reside solely on the government. There are also other sources of political power: its citizens (otherwise the EDSA Revolution wouldn’t be as successful, or the fact that we bothered with EDSA 2 and 3), the media (as a dictator, Marcos had wisdom in silencing the media), the aristocracy, the merchants (or in this case, the wealthy businessmen and entrepreneurs), other state leaders, and of course, the church.