A Passive Aggressive Culture

January 27th, 2016 · No Comments

Was that a “yes” or a “no”?  With us Filipinos, you can never be too sure.  With us Filipinos, the line between yes and no is blurred.  Everything is really a maybe. You have to watch carefully, listen carefully and only then will you get the real message.

Filipinos are passive aggressive.  We are so non-confrontational. In the moment, we may choose to agree with a group and then later disagree with others for fear of recrimination.  We dare not ask for fear of being labeled as not too bright. To contradict and express one’s thoughts is unthinkable.   Yes, is never really a yes; and maybe is most likely a ‘No’ which may change at a moment’s notice.  It’s a kind of a delayed thinking.  Avoidance and going with the flow is the acceptable norm. There are those who whinge and complain  in whispers hoping their message gets passed on by the braver ones.  They would rather remain incognito – anonymous!  They suffer in silence then suddenly lash out much to the chagrin of everyone who is left mum and motionless.  Of course, Facebook and emails have provided these people the platform to unleash their pent up emotions and fury.

These are Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Hyde personalities who swing from mousey passives to a raging aggressive in a second.  No in-betweens!  They scamper at the last minute and point the flicker finger of blame on everyone for their own failures.  Afraid to express what they want sensibly, they will lie blatantly or go with the sin of omission by not giving all the facts.  They are master manipulators treating everyone like pawns at their own chess game when no one is playing.  Thus, peace lovers either move away or jump on the bandwagon not even knowing why they leaped in the first place. And sadly, those in the right, those in the know, simply detach and move away.  After all, there’s the ocean to swim in and it’s better than getting crammed in the little fish bowl that some think is the world.

Being passive aggressive is the reason for most of the communication problems in the community.  We complain in secret; we scream from afar – ahhh… the corruption in the Philippines, the poor, the victims etc. etc. and yet no one really takes action.  And those who take action will do it underhandedly. Up close and personal, it’s a completely different story.  They are meek as a lamb and their battle cry is “forgive and forget”.

I get lots of phone calls from people either agreeing with what I wrote or wanting me to write about their harrowing experiences and the misdeeds done onto them.  Unfortunately, very few dare to go on record for fear of recrimination or being blacklisted for future favors and invites.  Even worst, the threat of isolation, compel some to change their stance in mid air.  Such mentality does nothing but simply allow the braver ones to persist with their wrongdoings and those who choose to remain silent are simply condoning it.  Some even call themselves “neutral” without even understanding what it really means.

In the community that we mix and mingle with, self evaluation is not readily acceptable. Defense mechanisms are immediately up to protect their fragile egos and pride.  And the debate ensues with “Who” is right, not “What” is right.  Ask to speak or for a dialogue and they will evade you like a plague.

Blame it on our parents for not having allowed us to speak up.  Blame it on our forefathers and on our history that has seen us under the Spanish, the Japanese and the Americans and everyone else who invaded our shores.  Blame it on everyone else, but ourselves.

We were always made to feel inferior; the lesser grade.  We were raised not to ask, not to talk unless addressed, not to interrupt at all costs and never ever to question authority.  Hence, we developed a culture of silence interpreted as politeness. Expressing a personal opinion or questioning  is totally taboo.

Quite frankly, despite our much publicized education, we have not progressed in leaps and bounds.  We are still in shackles, imprisoned by our fears and trapped by our own narrow mindedness.  Deep in our souls, we probably still think we are inferior and are too lazy to do anything about it.  And when all else fails, turning to prayer is their answer.

But really, silence should not be an option! It is time for those who have been silenced to be heard.  Assertiveness is something that needs to be learned.

Tags: Grey Matter