Magical Thinking

April 25th, 2016 · No Comments

With Philippine elections only a few days away, the pressure is on. T-shirts, signs and banners are being produced for the candidate of choice, even if most are not even voting.  As expected during the elections, especially in the Philippines, it’s mudslinging time.  The closer it gets, the dirtier it gets. The Rappler’s series by Patricia Evangelista and Nicole Curato on “The Imagined President” brilliantly describe the idealized and demonized versions of all the presidential candidates – Roxas, Binay, Defensor, Poe and Duterte.  But of all the candidates, Rodrigo Duterte, Davao Mayor running for President, and Bong Bong Marcos, son of Ferdinand Marcos running for Vice President take the lead as most argued about.

The netizens have been rattling cyberspace for five presidentiables and two vice presidents (the other two candidates for vice presidents play minor roles.)  What started off as laughable and could be shrugged off, has now turned ugly and makes me sick to my stomach, not to mention really sad.  It makes us ask, “What has happened to us?”

Here’s as I see it.  Obvious is the fact that Filipinos are so sick of the ongoing corruption that sees no end in sight in the near future.  They want change and they want it now! Former Presidents Erap, Cory Aquino and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo have been a disappointment to the people. Despite the glossed over words of the Pinoy administration and “try-to-impress” figures, the reality is that whatever little progress has been had (if any), has not trickled down to the grassroots.  Poverty prevails and desperate times call for desperate measures.

But the question is: who voted for them in the first place?  Check out the list of movie personalities that have lined up our congress.  No qualifications – only good looks and screen popularity got them there.  With a song and dance, and a secret stash to give, they win. The voters are unable to discern truth from fiction, or are too lazy to do the research to be informed. The lines between right and wrong are blurred.  They are fueled only by passion, hope, fear or favor.

Enter Duterte, the Terminator from Davao with Dirty Harry antics. And as one Duterte supporter put it, “We’d rather have a foul mouth for a president, than all the pretentious straight-laced candidates.”  They want a Rambo, or a dirty Harry to instantly free them from all their ills. Even better, the Terminator will do! They want “real change” overnight, which is impossible.  Yes, they’ve been duped – we’ve all been duped – but the alternative candidate they are clamoring for carries no real promise of deliverance, and negates the core values of the Filipino. They want someone strong enough to call the shots – shoot if he must (that’s okay too) to effect real change.  But two wrongs do not make it a right.

Filipinos are quick to jump on the bandwagon without thinking thorough the consequences of the real change they so clamor for.  Neither do they realize that change starts with them.  Their vision is one dimensional.

But everyone pales to the Duterte supporters who now also feel they have a right to emulate their candidate of choice. The Duterte die-hards have turned vigilantes and are event worst than the candidate they proclaim to support. Their reasoning is beyond comprehension.  Their logic is off; their moral compass gone. To them, the end justifies the means.  Filipino values are definitely out the window. They call it democracy and yet they are ready to pounce on anyone with an opinion. Obnoxious, rough as guts and bad language is okay as long as long as he rids the country of traffic, poverty and corruption in 6 months (as promised).  On the psychological results that reveal him as a narcissist, their excuse is – “narcissists make good visionaries and leaders.” Whoa! For all the killings and womanizing Duterte has openly admitted to, their excuse is “well, at least he is honest.” His foul mouth and bad “rape joke” they justify with “he is misunderstood.”

Feed them wrong information, throw in a dash of false hope, blended with magical thinking, gung-ho tactics and you’ve got a potent recipe for disaster.  Add to that our forgiving nature and our willingness to forget, and we definitely will need prayers.

But it’ll be over soon, and people will be back to their usual food snaps, happy-happy, singing and dancing as if nothing happened, until the next episode.  But look no further.  That kind of magical thinking, behavior and attitude exists even around us.

Hasta la vista, baby!

Tags: Grey Matter