We are, truly, a Sad Sack country.
While the discussions elsewhere are about planned trips to other planets and trial runs for luxury-laden, private spaceships, we are still in the RH debate , we retrogress, still arguing that the RH law is illegal, immoral and anti-life.
While the resources of other societies—including venture capital—are being poured massively into ICT—related innovation and bankrolling alternatives to fossil fuel, and some crazy and wild propositions that may finally bear fruition, we still give the megaphones to Neanderthals who are still for reckless procreation .
The Winklevoss twins have found their second act after being dumped by Mark Zuckerberg and are now creating a trading mechanism for Bitcoins .
The books they write are often titled “The New, New Thing”—about a Silicon Valley dream to build a workstation-controlled sailboat with a 197-foot mast. Or, “The Next Convergence,“ if not amazing sci-fi literature that may happen in the future. Nerds in their jeans and turtlenecks and hoodies get rock star treatment at TED conferences.
What are we, in contrast? Close to 100 million people , many of them packed in slum colonies , and we are still thinking that everything is all right . And that the armies of the desperate in the slums can meld well with reckless procreation? How can that be? Where is the glorious intersection ?
Is it not pitiful that we—and that includes the courts, the heavily-opinionated public and the legislature—are still discussing the RH law, calling it names and even applying the word “genocide” to it? Because there is absolutely no reason to revisit the law , the tame and timid law that is notches below the population management laws of nations across the globe.
Read it in its entirety and you will even find out that this timid and passive law is an oblique antidote to abortion. That it poses no harm to the unborn . Or, are the bishops and the pro-life groups stricken by epistemic closure, and are terror-stricken whenever confronted with fact-based argument?
When the nation is engaged in a serious conversation , more often that not, it is to drag the discussion back into the old and antiquated paradigms , such as the ancient reproductive health issue , not on new and fresh ones that can ennoble the nation .
It is as if the capacity to put forward new and exciting ideas into the national conversation had completely deserted us .
What is sadder is that we are not really this kind of people. Our society used to be dynamic and ambitious , the leadership bold, and the business elite truly forward looking.
Remember the time when we were one of the first in Asia to build an industrial foundry, a steel complex down south that was aimed at supporting a vibrant manufacturing sector? Our plan then was to steal the manufacturing thunder from the likes of South Korea and rival Japan in the prodigious output of manufactured goods.
Remember the time when we were leading the agronomy research in the Asian region? And agronomists from other countries often stayed here to train in modern rice production? Our agricultural , veterinary and fishery schools used to be crawling with Thai students , who saw Philippine agri schools as the best and the most competitively-priced training areas in the world.
Now, it is the reverse. Our graduate students go to Chulalongkorn University to train on agronomy, agri-business management and animal health. We import atis and patis from Bangkok. Many Thai universities are ahead of UP in the global ranking of the world’s best universities .
Remember the Maphilindo, the pioneering efforts of the three Malay countries to step up political, economic and cultural ties? Back then, we were not a slouch even on the diplomatic/foreign relations front
Remember the time “Recto” was the all-purpose word to describe brilliance of mind and the grandness of the Filipino thought process? What is defined by “Recto“ now, we do not know .
How we came to this sad state (we have become a nation too paralyzed to think well and straight ), I do not know. The scholars and the academics should take over—if something still remains of the great public intellectuals that flourished in an earlier era.
But we can only doubt if there is still intellectual firepower around. The public intellectuals have migrated to TV to hector us on various inanities. What they obsess over is not intellectual output but being made up for performances on the boob tube.
Every angle and every facet of our national life is a testament to a sad sack of a country still stuck in the old paradigms.
Can we get over this period of great vacuity and intellectual emptiness ?
Yes, but first things first. The Court should declare the RH as legal, though underwhelming. Then accompany that landmark decision with a national plea to modernize the national conversation . Drop the ancient and anachronistic part, for the modern, trailblazing and pioneering ones.
The Court should write in its decision (with the precision and wit of Elena Kagan) that we are now in the 21st century—and that we can’t be a sad sack of a country for as long as we are still enmeshed and ensnared in antiquated and antediluvian ideas.