Saturday, August 20, 2016

232: Sanity Survival Strategies for the Next Six Years

In the broad spectrum of public opinion, on the one extreme, you will have people who entirely approve of the way things are going and on the other extreme, people who believe that we have entered the worst of times. I fall in the latter category. I am deeply disturbed by recent developments, by what I see as the deterioriation of our institutions, by the outright naked abuse of power, and by the systematic dismantling of the checks and balances that comprise a democratic state. In other words, the country is going to shit.

I pin my hopes by looking back at the swath of history. Other peoples at other times have suffered through more trying situations and have recovered. Dictators are not forever, because they also grow senile or mad, and die, and so too do their empires. I can only hope that things do not get much worse before they get better.

In the meantime, I have mapped out a survival strategy for my sanity over the next six years. I'm writing this primarily as notes for myself, as a reminder, but I'm sharing this with the hope that somebody somewhere, also similarly lost, will find this useful.

First, hunker down and go deep. More than anything, these times are marked by a failure of philosophy and critical thinking. Over the years, we've steadily dumbed down because of social media, abetted by mainstream media. Too long we have fed on snippets of news and memes, and by their nature these are visceral, ephemeral, and shallow. The enemy is a master of this medium, whatever semblance of independence has been coopted to its message. Redemption, therefore, won't come from Facebook or Twitter or ABS-CBN. So instead, I recommend a reading list of classical philosophers and histories.

Second, harbor a distrust of institutions and organizations, especially their leaders. If these institutions surrender fail speak up against what is plainly wrong out of fear or out of concessions for their own advocacies, then consider these insitutions compromised. See how already universities and people's organizations, and even the Church, previously at the forefront for human rights, have fallen silent.

Third, write. But don't write as you would for the consumption of social media, write instead to keep a record of these times. Write in long form, write reflections, write your frustrations, write with big words, write even if it appears you are rambling. Write with Art and with Irony. Because we will eventually emerge from this period of madness, hopefully to a season of sanity, and we will need to look back and remember, and if needed, to indict. Write because it will someday be history.

Finally, Hope. Because that is what the evil, with its tirades, with its murders, with its false accusations and false promises, wants to destroy. Without Hope, there is no joy and there is no fight, and all is lost. So, Hope.