No love of country.
Our insularity makes us believe that we're among the best in the world in many fields of endeavor. But, sad to say, that self-assessment is only in our minds. It's like the delusional individual who's a legend only in his or her own mind.
The truth is that, despite some advances, we've not even mastered the basics in life, in culture, in governance, and even in daily behavior.
This is an expansion on my last column in which I wrote that it's not the "system" that's the problem in our nation, it's really us.
We need to go back to basics. Let's start with love of country. We have no sense of country. By that I mean the concept of having a cohesive whole, a nation that is not just a colony of individuals but one that is bound by common interests, unity and "malasakit" for each other.
Let's look at what we do, or don't do, in our daily routines. Look around and try to comprehend why our streets or public squares are full of trash. Look at our drainage canals and streams that are clogged with household garbage. Look at how people dispose of litter everywhere, throwing it away from moving vehicles or simply dropping it on the street nonchalantly.
Improperly disposed waste floats back onto seawalls, islands of debris from houses and factories or office buildings. People who live near rivers make them their convenient personal garbage dumps.
We don't respect other people's property. We paint slogans and nonsensical writings on every public place we can find. We shoot at living beings like birds and other animals that play a role in the ecosystem.
On the roads we display our inconsiderateness by being unruly and selfish. We don't even know the basic rules of driving or road courtesy.
And, as I've written in the last column, we steal from each other. Politicians feel no remorse in helping themselves to the people's money. In one way or another, we cheat.
Our ethics and commitment to our work are questionable. Police security and jail wardens are susceptible to bribery or intimidation, as in the recent examples of police officials who allegedly let two detained senators out on unauthorized movements, and of prison bosses who give certain criminals VIP treatment.
We're still an immature society, even wild sometimes. We're often too emotional, even hysterical, in times of crisis, and are unable to handle such trials with equanimity and sobriety.
It seems we're destined to perpetually choose the wrong people we put in government. We don't realize that the entrenched ruling class is pulling all the strings and the rest of us are mere puppets.
In the last column I wrote that we ourselves allow all these things to happen. Either with our misused votes or misguided support for undeserving politicians, we gladly hand over control of the government and our lives to a small ruling minority.
It will take a long time, if ever, before we reach a state where majority or all of us can fully discern the consequences of our actions and behavior. We need to go back to basics and learn to protect and preserve our natural endowments, acquired rights, and citizens' responsibilities.
We can shout all we can about love of country. But if we don't practice it, we will continue to rot in the rut we're in, exploited by the few and relegated to the margins of society.
If we truly love our country, let's defend it from the predators among us. But first, we have to relearn the basics.