5

In the preceding chapter we set forth the causes that proceed from the government in fostering and maintaining the evil we are discussing. Now it falls to us to analyze those that emanate from the people. Peoples and governments are correlated and complementary: a fatuous government would be an anomaly among righteous people, just as a corrupt people cannot exist under just rulers and wise laws. Like people, like government, we will say in paraphrase of a popular adage.

We can reduce all these causes to two classes: to defects of training and lack of national sentiment.

Of the influence of climate we spoke at the beginning, so we will not treat of the effects arising from it.

The very limited training in the home, the tyrannical and sterile education of the rare centers of learning, that blind subordination of the youth to one of greater age, influence the mind so that a man may not aspire to excel those who preceded him but must merely be content to go along with or march behind them. Stagnation forcibly results from this, and as he who devotes himself merely to copying divests himself of other qualities suited to his own nature, he naturally becomes sterile; hence decadence. Indolence is a corollary derived from the lack of stimulus and of vitality.

That modesty infused into the convictions of every one, or, to speak more clearly, that insinuated inferiority, a sort of daily and constant depreciation of the mind so that, it may not be raised to the regions of light, deadens the energies, paralyzes all tendency toward advancement, and at the least struggle a man gives up without fighting. If by one of those rare accidents, some wild spirit, that is, some active one, excels, instead of his example stimulating, it only causes others to persist in their inaction. ‘There’s one who will work for us: let’s sleep on!’ say his relatives and friends. True it is that the spirit of rivalry is sometimes awakened, only that then it awakens with bad humor in the guise of envy, and instead of being a lever for helping, it is an obstacle that produces discouragement.

Nurtured by the example of anchorites of a contemplative and lazy life, the natives spend theirs in giving their gold to the Church in the hope of miracles and other wonderful things. Their will is hypnotized: from childhood they learn to act mechanically, without knowledge of the object, thanks to the exercises imposed upon them from the tenderest years of praying for whole hours in an unknown tongue, of venerating things that they do not understand, of accepting beliefs that are not explained to them to having absurdities imposed upon them, while the protests of reason are repressed. Is it any wonder that with this vicious dressage of intelligence and will the native, of old logical and consistent—as the analysis of his past and of his language demonstrates—should now be a mass of dismal contradictions? That continual struggle between reason and duty, between his organism and his new ideals, that civil war which disturbs the peace of his conscience all his life, has the result, of paralyzing all his energies, and aided by the severity of the climate, makes of that eternal vacillation, of the doubts in his brain, the origin of his indolent disposition.

“You can’t know more than this or that old man!” “Don’t aspire to be greater than the curate!” “You belong to an inferior race!” “You haven’t any energy!” This is what they tell the child, and as they repeat it so often, it has perforce to become engraved on his mind and thence mould and pervade all his actions. The child or youth who tries to be anything else is blamed with vanity and presumption; the curate ridicules him with cruel sarcasm, his relatives look upon him with fear, strangers regard him with great compassion. No forward movement! Get back in the ranks and keep in line!

With his spirit thus moulded the native falls into the most pernicious of all routines: routine not planned, but imposed and forced. Note that the native himself is not, naturally inclined to routine, but his mind is disposed to accept all truths, just as his house is open to all strangers. The good and the beautiful attract him, seduce and captivate him, although, like the Japanese, he often exchanges the good for the evil, if it appears to him garnished and gilded. What he lacks is in the first place liberty to allow expansion to his adventuresome spirit, and good examples, beautiful prospects for the future. It is necessary that his spirit, although it may be dismayed and cowed by the elements and the fearful manifestation of their mighty forces, store up energy, seek high purposes, in order to struggle against obstacles in the midst of unfavorable natural conditions. In order that he may progress it is necessary that a revolutionary spirit, so to speak, should boil in his veins, since progress necessarily requires change; it implies the overthrow of the past, there deified, by the present; the victory of new ideas over the ancient and accepted ones. It will not be sufficient to speak to his fancy, to talk nicely to him, nor that the light illuminate him like the ignis fatuus that leads travelers astray at night; all the flattering promises of the fairest hopes will not suffice, so long as his spirit is not free, his intelligence not respected.

The reasons that originate in the lack of national sentiment are still more lamentable and more transcendental.

Convinced by the insinuation of his inferiority, his spirit harassed by his education, if that brutalization of which we spoke above can be called education, in that exchange of usages and sentiments among different nations, the Filipino, to whom remain only his susceptibility and his poetical imagination, allows himself to be guided by his fancy and his self-love. It is sufficient that the foreigner praise to him the imported merchandise and run down the native product for him to hasten to make the change, without reflecting that everything has its weak side and the most sensible custom is ridiculous in the eyes of those who do not follow it. They have dazzled him with tinsel, with strings, of colored glass beads, with noisy rattles, shining mirrors and other trinkets, and he has given in return his gold, his conscience, and even his liberty. He changed his religion for the external practices of another cult; the convictions and usages derived from his climate and needs, for other usages and other convictions that developed under another sky and another inspiration. His spirit, well-disposed toward everything that looks good to him, was then transformed, at the pleasure of the nation that forced upon him its God and its laws, and as the trader with whom he dealt did not bring a cargo of useful implements of iron, hoes to till the fields, but stamped papers, crucifixes, bulls and prayer-books; as he did not have for ideal and prototype the tanned and vigorous laborer, but the aristocratic lord, carried in a luxurious litter, the result was that the imitative people became bookish, devout, prayerful; it acquired ideas of luxury and ostentation, without thereby improving the means of its subsistence to a corresponding degree.

The lack of national sentiment brings another evil, moreover, which is the absence of all opposition to measures prejudicial to the people and the absence of any initiative in whatever may redound to its good. A man in the Philippines is only an individual, he is not a member of a nation. He is forbidden and denied the right of association, and is therefore weak and sluggish. The Philippines are an organism whose cells seem to have no arterial system to irrigate it or nervous system to communicate its impressions; these cells must, nevertheless, yield their product, get it where they can: if they perish, let them perish. In the view of some this is expedient so that a colony may be a colony; perhaps they are right, but not to the effect that a colony may flourish.

The result of this is that if a prejudicial measure is ordered, no one protests; all goes well apparently until later the evils are felt. Another blood-letting, and as the organism has neither nerves nor voice the physician proceeds in the belief that the treatment is not injuring it. It needs a reform, but as it must not speak, it keeps silent and remains with the need. The patient wants to eat, it wants to breathe the fresh air, but as such desires may offend the susceptibility of the physician who thinks that he has already provided everything necessary, it suffers and pines away from fear of receiving scolding, of getting another plaster and a new blood-letting, and so on indefinitely.

In addition to this, love of peace and the horror many have of accepting the few administrative positions which fall to the Filipinos on account of the trouble and annoyance these cause them places at the head of the people the most stupid and incapable men, those who submit to everything, those who can endure all the caprices and exactions of the curate and of the officials. With this inefficiency in the lower spheres of power and ignorance and indifference in the upper, with the frequent changes and the eternal apprenticeships, with great fear and many administrative obstacles, with a voiceless people that has neither initiative nor cohesion, with employees who nearly all strive to amass a fortune and return home, with inhabit, ants who live in great hardship from the instant they begin to breathe, create prosperity, agriculture and industry, found enterprises and companies, things that still hardly prosper in free and well-organized communities.

Yes, all attempt is useless that does not spring from a profound study of the evil that afflicts us. To combat this indolence, some have proposed increasing the native’s needs and raising the taxes. What has happened? Criminals have multiplied, penury has been aggravated. Why? Because the native already has enough needs with his functions of the Church, with his fiestas, with the public offices forced on him, the donations and bribes that he has to make so that he may drag out his wretched existence. The cord is already too taut.

We have heard many complaints, and every day we read in the papers about the efforts the government is making to rescue the country from its condition of indolence. Weighing its plans, its illusions and its difficulties, we are reminded of the gardener who tried to raise a tree planted in a small flower-pot. The gardener spent his days tending and watering the handful of earth, he trimmed the plant frequently, he pulled at it to lengthen it and hasten its growth, he grafted on it cedars and oaks, until one day the little tree died, leaving the man convinced that it belonged to a degenerate species, attributing the failure of his experiment to everything except the lack of soil and his own ineffable folly.

Without education and liberty, that soil and that sun of mankind, no reform is possible, no measure can give the result desired. This does not mean that we should ask first for the native the instruction of a sage and all imaginable liberties, in order then to put a hoe in his hand or place him in a workshop; such a pretension would be an absurdity and vain folly. What we wish is that obstacles be not put in his way, that the many his climate and the situation of the islands afford be not augmented, that instruction be not begrudged him for fear that when he becomes intelligent he may separate from the colonizing nation or ask for the rights of which he makes himself worthy. Since some day or other he will become enlightened, whether the government wishes it or not, let his enlightenment be as a gift received and not as conquered plunder. We desire that the policy be at once frank and consistent, that is, highly civilizing, without sordid reservations, without distrust, without fear or jealousy, wishing the good for the sake of the good, civilization for the sake of civilization, without ulterior thoughts of gratitude, or else boldly exploiting, tyrannical and selfish without hypocrisy or deception, with a whole system well-planned and studied out for dominating by compelling obedience, for commanding to get rich, for getting rich to be happy. If the former, the government may act with the security that some day or other it will reap the harvest and will find a people its own in heart and interest; there is nothing like a favor for securing the friendship or enmity of man, according to whether it be conferred with good will or hurled into his face and bestowed upon him in spite of himself. If the logical and regulated system of exploitation be chosen, stifling with the jingle of gold and the sheen of opulence the sentiments of independence in the colonies, paying with its wealth for its lack of liberty, as the English do in India, who moreover leave the government to native rulers, then build roads, lay out highways, foster the freedom of trade; let the government heed material interests more than the interests of four orders of friars; let it send out intelligent employees to foster industry; just judges, all well paid, so that they be not venal pilferers, and lay aside all religious pretext. This policy has the advantage in that while it may not lull the instincts of liberty wholly to sleep, yet the day when the mother country loses her colonies she will at least have the gold amassed and not the regret of having reared ungrateful children.

Quick Chapter Select
You might like
More Works From Author
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments