~ The 1987 Philippine Constitution
Religion, spirituality and leadership are (and should be) distinct from politics. And yet, in a strange, inevitable and weird way almost always, two sides of the same coin.
Perhaps it is due to history. Maybe it is because of culture. Or maybe because leadership down to the grass roots level of the basic unit of society has always been spiritual (or not). The same goes for atheist, agnostic families or even up to secular states. The lack of spirituality, of soul, of deference to a higher authority leads to the kind of structure in a family that's reminiscent of anarchic tendencies. Broken families. Anarchic states. One could argue that the same goes for religious states where dissent is suppressed and destroyed.
This is why we have a 'communist' China that has deep reverence for Chairman Mao and the little red book. That is why even godless North Korea, treats the Kims with deity like status. We need to come to the sobering conclusion that the masses, the illiterates, to the lowest of levels will almost always devolve (or maybe has to) subsume themselves to some form of belief structure in their belief system.
Hence, "Religion is the opium of the masses". But what if the masses have no religion? What will be their opium but opium itself.
In Christendom, this defaults to Christianity. In pre-Christian Roman Empire, it runs the gamut from pantheistic, polytheistic paganism and/or local deities of mythological significance. In Islamic countries, to Islam.
I'm not saying whether it should, or should not be - I'm just saying that "it just is."
A government of the people, for the people and by the people would always differentiate on "what should be" if the belief systems for "what should be" is arbitrarily defined by the greater number of people. Some would argue that this should be enshrined in the Constitution. The freedom to do whatever. But that runs into conflict, once a group of people run into conflict from within that framework. Oftentimes, this issue of conflict is also resolved through the Constitution - but what if the Constitution is no longer revered and is even questioned, loathed and destined to perdition?
In my native Philippines, our Constitution in its pre-amble states in maybe overly dramatic fashion:
We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society, and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution."
Apologies for the color emphasis. This is where it gets tricky.
Much of the Philippines claims to be of Catholic Christian allegiance - yet this is only practiced in tradition. The masses, (again) have no appreciation of the intricacies of Christianity itself but rather treat religion as an obligatory tradition. It becomes meaningless in the face of rabid consumerism which I would say is the new real religion of this country. We have a rabid consumerist capitalist society.
A good example of this is the barangay fiesta. Fiestas are supposed to be feasts commemorating a Barangays patron - but what actually happens is that relatives, friends, neighbors congregate to eat, drink and be merry. So, one would actually see a fiesta that would remind you more of a red light district rather than a religious commemoration. This is further bolstered by the fact that fiestas traces their origins to pagan traditions (as is most Catholic practices).
In short we do things because we have to do things, but we do not necessarily know why we do things.
Hypocrisy and Cognitive Dissonance
As a general rule, we are all hypocrites. I could not count the times I've heard a neighborhood istambay (for "standby", meaning 'idle men') lash out at the community priest for being (blank), (blank) and (blank). Or to the religious oldies who go to Church religiously every Sunday but do (blank), (blank) and (blank) right after going to church.
Yes, that's true!
But to me, going the religious route is first and foremost - an admission - an admission of frailty, weakness and sin. The second one is of forgiveness and grace.
Now, a lot of things that are happening in Filipino society these days (as well as the leadership) is borne from what I would say is a greater cognitive dissonance. In a society disillusioned by the failings of religion, men of faith (or supposed to be) AND - leaders of great character, we find ourselves in the midst of a moral dilemma that cannot and will not be resolved by the masses. What do you do if a certain segment of the population, fall into the trappings of their own freedoms?
What do you do if the ones in charge of solving these problems no longer see the law or the Constitution as a pseudo sacred credo enforced with zeal?
You suddenly have law enforcers who have become the law themselves.
The masses including the middle meanwhile, carry on with their narcissistic escapism into the new world of things, gadgets and pleasure.
Leadership and the spirits that lurk around him
Whether one believes in the unseen phenomenon or not is an issue for another blog. But any leadership can come with a credo, it can also come with a flaming fist, or with the benevolence of heaven, the mandate of the divine, or a dislocated camera with planted evidence, a whole lot of blood, several corpses and macabre destruction.
Behind any kind of leader would be the stalwarts who would defend him.Behind these stalwarts would be the minor apologists, the shills, the 'Ayes' and the pitchfork bearers. Against them would be the rebels, the rebels without a cause, the heroes, the wannabe heroes, the intellectuals, the misguided rebels, the "Naysayers", the nitpickers, the truants, the guilty, the apathetic merchant whose trade was affected and others.
In these morally obfuscated times, it becomes difficult to ascertain black from white, especially knowing that white comes along with a myriad of other colors.
Of course, everyone would lay claim to the 'truth'. Of course everyone would lay claim to be 'the just one'. Of course, everyone would lay claim to 'moral ascendancy'. The masses would clap, jeer, leer, jump, roll, shout and carry their pitchforks - and in these unfortunate viral online mentality, these minor instances or 'online points' are memefied to obscene proportions.
Only one thing could be clear and that is - the direction of thought.
- Where is this all leading us?
- Where are all of these taking honest and straightforward discussion? Micro analyzing each event and coaxing positive or negative reactions is like the minutiae of a body's immune system, like a rabid virus being attacked by the anti bodies.