The avid readers of this blog of mine had been willing me for ages to provide the continuation to my series Indolence of the Filipinos in the 21st century. It may seem to those readers that I have ironically succumbed to the tendencies of being indolent as discussed in the previous chapters.
To give some sort of an explanation, I, the seemingly undisciplined author, have already written what I thought was a third of the 4th chapter already. Those who were my intimate friends can attest that I already wrote that as early as mid-2017.
I tended to read Rizal’s works and letters when I prepared into writing a chapter. I stopped midway for I have felt that Rizal’s spirit “within me” left me back then in grievance into seeing the rational and moral descent of the Filipino race that he once defended with his martyrdom. That descent was mainly attributed to the misappropriation and misinterpretation of one of the main virtues that were being discussed in the chapter that had long been pending in the stockpile of this seemingly exhausted and undisciplined writer.
Discipline has been one of the most rhetorically employed concept in the Filipino society of today. It was such an enticing concept for within that frequently abused concept laid a promise to the grandeur of harmonious order. It was often perceived as the noble counterpart to the perceived unrest in the Filipino society, whether real or imagined. Discipline gave assurance amidst the misery looming in the uncertainty of chaos, as if it could fully extinguish the flaming turmoil brought by chaos.
However, the laws of the universe would slap those who longed for such thing with the futility of such notion. Chaos was inherent in the universe for chaos was what has brought the universe its very existence. No chaos meant nothing existed in the first place. The absence of chaos IS the absence of existence. With its law of entropy, as with the flow of time, one could not reverse the existence and even the increase in chaos. It IS a never-ending state. Even warmth, in the first place, was brought upon by the chaos within molecules as the chaos within signified movement, like in life, where there’s always uncertainty. Ultimately, the absence of chaos also signified the certainty of the absence of life.
If that was the case, then where did discipline situate itself in the realm of thought?
The desire for certainty mainly stems from the individual’s desire to control. So if the absolute certainty is only of the impossibility of absolutely controlling the uncertainty of chaos, then for the individual, discipline turned out to be their attempt to contain that chaos.
The containment imposed by discipline always started with the nearest thing within the individual’s grasp: the self. In the imposition of that containment, the individual bound himself to a set of rules that the individual supposed to follow. Those rules were determined based on the containment the individual had imposed upon himself. The desire to control where the containment originated from was for the purpose of harnessing the flow of the uncertainty mentioned into a direction on which the individual could most expect situations and challenges that he could handle.
Understandably, the natural impulses of an individual would set that direction into the most rudimentary of natural binaries: what benefits and doesn’t. In evaluating those things, the individual developed interests and biases based on what the individual solely perceived. The selection and evaluation were series of trials and errors that served as the backbone to the individual’s experience which would then in turn constantly test the worthiness of the rules that he imposed upon himself, admitting new ones while also furloughing non-beneficial ones.
However, those rules, since they were primarily result from the individual’s own experience, could only apply to the individual himself. Those rules were only imposed upon oneself, not upon others. Attempting to extend the containment beyond personal realms would result to conflict, the same conflict tackled in the draft that I attached in this piece.
Conflicts exemplified the uncertainty brought by chaos. In the middle of this turmoil of human discord emerged the concept of politics and social contract theories. Politics, according to Andrew Heywood – who authored the textbook that we used in our political science classes – defined politics into four ways: (1) politics as the art of government, (2) politics as conflict and cooperation, (3) politics as consensus and compromise, and (4) politics as power and authority.
In quelling the chaos brought by the conflict of the rules and interests, individuals began to cooperate as they flocked together into forming communities with a culture and norms determined through a convention where compromises were made as the agreed-upon rules were established in pursuit of societal harmony.
Morality became a by-product of that convention where the sense of what was right and what was wrong was established. The established binary distinguished itself from the rudimentary binary mentioned earlier (what benefits vs what doesn’t) by the replacement of the personal with the rational and logical stemming from the empathy and compassion that arose from the formation of such communities.
Through a social contract, the community delegated an institution which would look after then in exchange of the authority that was bestowed upon them. That institution would see to it that the rules were enforced fairly. That institution would also introduce new rules and repeal old ones on the basis of the common good. And that institution would interpret and adjudicate those rules on the basis of rationality and morality.
Through the social contract and the formation of laws and institutions that followed, the community also developed discipline in its own. There’s conformity as long as there’s convenience. Discipline ultimately fell under those two prerequisites. Take one of the two out, then it’s not longer discipline.
Discipline is indeed a committal aspect. The abidance to those roles and the results that such act would reap mainly depended on the individual’s effort and probity in abiding to those set of rules.
Such lapses on effort and the subsequent indolence resulted into the distortion and corruption of the things that society had built up to.
Like the booze distracting the citadel guards from the incoming pillagers, indolence impaired the community’s functions as the watchdog as the people in authority began to no longer act on the basis of the common good but on the basis on their personal interest.
Indolence of the mind proliferated ignorance as the people in power made the people in the community forget the social contract itself and the vox populi within them.
Ignorance gave way to fanaticism. (Which of course was brought by the complication brought by another aspect).
Little by little, sometimes with the concerted efforts of some people of interest who benefited from keeping the Filipinos preoccupied, Filipinos began spiraling into the pitfall of ignorance. It started with the initial state with the lapses on discernment, then followed forgetfulness, and in the bottom, laid docility.
First, with ignorance, the individual would lose the discernment on morality, on which the spiral would gravitate the individual in as the control over the direction was stripped away. Then as darkness would creep in, rendering vision useless, the individual would lose his perception and his sense of history. And in the bottom of the seemingly bottomless pit, the darkness would strip away the individual’s discernment of the self and his dignity as a human being as he began to stare mindlessly to that dark, the deathly still of docility.
As the building blocks began to fall apart, the society held on to the concept of discipline as it attempted to pull itself together. However, the prerequisite of convenience became maligned as was omitted out of it. As a result, the discipline became a mere call for conformity. To whose convenience, may I ask? Quoting Joaquin’s Phoenix’s Joker – whose descent to the destructive chaos of anarchy served as a grim reminder to the oppressive conformism that pushed him to the edge: “…expecting you to behave as if you don’t.”
Indeed, with docility, the chaos died out and people mindlessly followed the whims and wills of others, just like the lion who seemingly behaved. Was the lion commended into being well-behaved by acknowledging the individual and his education? Nope, he was rather well-trained, just programmed to be beware of the whips…ergo… inconveniences.
I begged to differ, with the reason and the logic innate within ourselves which distinguished us from the animals.
The dissent over that moral descent was often hushed by those who put the dissenters down to their submission with their rhetoric of calling for “unity” and “discipline”. In fact, it was not a call for discipline, but rather a call for docility. Along with conformity, the “discipline” in their rhetoric had become rather a call into being driven cattle. It was only upon the adamance into not being part of the driven cattle that an individual could in fact distinguish discipline from docility.
The key thing that separated discipline from docility was WILLPOWER. In discipline, the individual asserted his will, while in docility, the individual surrendered it.
The Filipino consciousness and soul stemmed from the willpower that asserted itself against colonialism, oppression, and tyranny. The one who exemplified the virtue of willpower the most was the very person who asserted the existence of the Filipino Soul before the world, Jose Rizal. Rizal’s probity, willpower, and honesty were admired even by his contemporaries who saw Rizal’s discipline which operated with a precision of a machine.
Most of Rizal’s efforts were not in vain as the fruition of his advocacies and aspirations led into waking up the lethargic blood of Filipinos who then struggled and championed their cause towards freedom against the chains of tyranny and the whims of the colonizers. His efforts were not forgotten as he was commemorated in every aspect of Filipino life like laws, the continuous printing of his works, the compulsory courses about him, the Philippine peso, his National Shrine in Luneta, and various slogans that interpreted his virtues.
The one that is most notable is that of the Capital City on it’s campaign to impose discipline. The city is correct in associating Rizal with confidence to the virtue of discipline. However, the city’s notion and understanding of discipline is gravely different to that of Rizal, to the point that it has become a sad irony as the City’s desire for its greater grandeur has heartlessly displaced many of its citizens and their livelihoods without even providing viable alternative when in fact that these citizens have been driven into a corner.
This streak of hubris, showmanship, and oppression provided normalcy to the plight of many of the disadvantaged as the colonial mentality has resurged into making those Filipinos love their state of being their own respective tragic heroines and heroes. However, the heroes of history proved to be having none of those. Their willpower, channeled by their discipline, has exalted themselves into achieving their dreams of a better tomorrow.
Discipline, for the Filipino heroes that blazed a trail before us, was a tool for the individuals into becoming better selves and asserting themselves against the forces that threaten to strip their dignity as thinking persons with dignity.