Carvajal: Hopelessly old hat

Orlando P. Carvajal
·2 min read

We live in a thoroughly and deeply authoritarian society. Truth, no matter how baseless, is what the person in authority says. In societies of this kind such as ours, stability is assured by people’s obsequiousness to authorities that brook no contradiction.

In our homes, parents are always right. Not because they are but merely because they have authority over their children. They decide on the child’s profession to pursue often without regard for inborn talents their child might want to optimize.

In our schools, teachers are always right. Education authorities are always right in mass producing schooled-but-not-necessarily-educated children with the same lessons for all without regard for individual proclivities. Diploma, not education, is the goal; and if you want it, you must answer exam questions exactly as teacher instructed you.

In our mostly Catholic churches, priests are always right. Not because they are but because they claim to speak for God. Their moral truths can be contradicted only under pain of hell-fire.

(Bishop Broderick Pabillo has no moral platform from where to condemn the evils of President Duterte’s dictatorial style. Authoritarianism in Church, where bishops function as veritable feudal lords in their respective jurisdictions, is worse than in government. It is the foundation on which our authoritarian culture is built.)

In business firms, owner-managers are always right. To attain industrial peace in the workplace employees must not question the former’s decision on wages, working conditions, leaves, bonuses, and above all their lack of share in company profits.

Finally in government, the President is king of the country, the governor of the province, and the mayor of the municipality or city. Nothing moves unless the mayor on the municipal, the governor on the provincial and the President on the national level approves it. You know the rest of the story.

Authoritarianism kills the critical thinking and creativity of a society. No wonder Philippine society manages only to move sideways but not forward. Authorities in the home, school, church, business and government are not always the most intelligent, the most creative. Like in government, they are in authority often because they are rich and can afford our expensive elections.

An authoritarian society perpetuates itself. Its homes, schools and churches cannot possibly produce anything but leaders with king-sized egos and followers with pint-sized courage to contradict their leaders.

The youth must get out of our backward authoritarian structures at home, school and church and go out on a limb to introduce forward-looking socio-political structures. The current ones are hopelessly old hat.