By Daniel Lorenzo Pineda
Stupid is a word I will never learn to swallow. Stupid is a word reserved for certain people—the President, Willie Revillame, Floyd Mayweather Jr., & co.—which, by virtue of balancing out our rights and privileges, has been bestowed on us—ordinary, insignificant people—for the taking. It is ours to use against the harsh realities we just have to accept. Like the President having a Porsche 911 while you ride a crummy jeepney with an 8-peso minimum fare. Or Willie Revillame being so good at persuading the public while only your mom “likes” your status on Facebook against child abuse. And don’t get me started on Wussweather.
Let’s call them stupid all we want to. We win some, we lose most.
It’s a different story, however, when we throw the word at people who simply do not share the same sentiments as ours on certain issues. But we do. With the RH Bill being discussed not just in Congress, but on the streets and the internet, stupid is the most popular cuss word. What we don’t realize is that different does not mean lacking sense. Different does not mean one labored less in looking for answers. In short, different does not mean stupid.
I am against the RH Bill and I’ve often been thrown the S-word for it, be it directly or indirectly. With a fresh diploma in BA Creative Writing from the University of the Philippines-Diliman, I wonder what that would mean: Do I blame myself or our country’s educational system (again)?
A tabloid-worthy article by the Filipino Freethinkers became almost viral in the internet for making a mockery of people who are against the RH Bill. Long story short, it used satire unskillfully to say a simple message: Everyone against the RH Bill is stupid. With a quick scan over the article’s comments and the net, it is not hard to find similar opinions. It woke me to the fact that most, if not all, “non-believers” of the RH Bill are looked down as stupid. And I have never learned to swallow that word. As I have said, I never will.
I oppose the RH Bill for a number of reasons. I oppose the RH Bill not just for the Marxist belief that contradiction of the thesis with the anti-thesis produces a much better synthesis. Ultimately, I oppose the RH Bill because I don’t believe there is a need for it.
First and foremost, the question of population is one which deserves a lot more thinking and re-thinking. The Scientific American – Earth 3.0 published an article entitled “Population and Sustainability” dated 2009 and I share its well-studied thesis. Yes, it said that a booming population is a problem in terms of consumption—a little less for everyone so nobody would need to jump overboard. Naturally, that idea would be easy to understand considering that birth comes at a much faster rate than death. Naturally, the world’s population can only go higher. Naturally, there would be a need to provide for more people. It’s simple logic. By the Laws of the Sciences, Entropy is a force always present and unstoppable. Population growth is entropy. It cannot be controlled or stopped. Population control is like saying you can reverse ageing when truth is, you’re only using some “Age Defying Cream.” Truth is your birth date can never be altered. And yes, we will all die one day. Blame Entropy.
By using the term “overpopulation”, however, we are taking the easy way out and blind ourselves to the reality that it is only population growth taking its toll. This is entropy at work. An attempt to stop or control this is futile considering that it will only slow down a tidal wave already in motion. It’s just like saying, “Not in my lifetime am I going to downsize my consumption! The next generation should handle the additional 3 billion of them!”
What we can do, however, is to harness what is already given to us for our use—this is Sustainability. By principle of Sustainability, the Scientific American says, it is not necessary to control this population growth as it is only a haphazard band-aid solution. What is necessary is to provide for the needs of the growing population—to provide jobs, education, food, etc.—which would make the quality of life better. Going back to the metaphor of the tidal wave, what we have to do is to make houses 8 miles away from the shore. What we have to do is to think Sustainability. What we have to do is to think long term.
Long term plans don’t only look forward. Long term plans, contrary to its connotations, have been there since the beginning of time. Long term plans are tried and tested. As far as I can recall, the long term plans have always been these: close the gap between the rich and the poor and give what you can for society. In short, social justice.
If we’re talking about consumption and the sight of the “overpopulated” poor biting off more than they can chew, then it is only logical to talk about its inverse. Can we honestly say that we’re only consuming what is right for us? Can we honestly say that our families of four, five, or six, leave the table with no leftovers? We have to realize that some people have less because some people have more. And most of the time, they have less because we have more.
It infuriated me when Ballsy Aquino was quoted that the farmers in Hacienda Luisita are living such downtrodden lives because they keep conceiving babies. It’s as if that was the cause of their poverty. The attitude is fatalistic aside from condescending. When what the Aquinos should be doing is giving the farmers what they deserve—a just salary and the necessary compensations. What the Aquinos should be doing is social justice. Or as their father himself called it: Christian Socialism.
The case is not confined to the Aquino’s remark. More and more, with the RH Bill reaching the ever agitated Netizens of the Philippines, pity and sympathy are mass produced. Often, the story of a family in the slums reaching a hefty count is retold and the solutions offered are condoms, contraceptives, or castration. This is mere tolerance of the structural problems: miseducation, uneducation, and the rich keeping to their ivory towers. Worse, these solutions were to come from our ever-reliable State. Why don’t we take it upon ourselves to be with the poor, to educate them with Life, and not rely on a single lesson on sex and the use of this slimy, flavored (?) thing called condoms?