Monday, March 21, 2016

Ethics Paper: Nature of Human Being, Reason for Being

Here's the paper I wrote for our Ethics Reflection Paper under Prof. Manny Dy. This is a requirement for my MBA Regis class TSETHICS at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business (AGSB). Hope this helps you!
Ever since the class was asked the question, “What is the nature of the human being?” last Friday, I’ve been thinking about what answer I should give. At first I thought of clich├ęs like the nature of man is the embodiment of body and soul, as the church taught us. Or that man is both rational and emotional, as my Philosophy professor in college would remind us.
However, an event happened to my household that weekend and only then was I able to realize what I believe as the nature of man. You see, my 5-month old daughter got sick over the weekend and we had to rush her to the Emergency Room early Sunday morning due to high fever and vomiting. Being a first-time mom, the panic and anxiety I felt was indescribable. I had no prior experience when it came to dealing with sick babies, and the different opinions from my parents, in-laws, and other more experienced moms were terribly confusing. Fortunately, my daughter is a fighter and she was able to take her medicines. Her condition had improved after a couple days. My anxiety has subsided, but the road to recovery also meant learning from our previous mistakes –ensuring cleanliness by regularly sanitizing our home, watching out for the things she puts in her mouth, not panicking and thinking of first aid measures while at home.
This experience has made me think about what the nature of man is. As I look at my daughter who is striving every day to discover something new about the world and learn a new trick, I have come to realize that human beings, by nature, are hungry for learning. In other words, man is dynamic. From the time we were born, we have been absorbing everything that the world offers us – from the first light we see, to the first scent of our mothers, to the first sound we hear, to the first taste of milk, to the first touch. Even as grown-ups, the learning does not stop. I still discover something new today, especially when it comes to motherhood. I learn something about how to be a mother, and I also learn a thing or two about my baby.
I firmly believe that there is always an innate drive in us to improve and to be in constant motion to achieve a certain goal. In addition, our interaction with our surroundings also affects how we live. Society influences us in many ways – both positive and negative – but our natural inclination to act allows us to learn from our mistakes and from our experiences, thereby creating a better us. In a way, my Spiritual Adviser from 10 years ago was correct in saying that man is by nature a good person. Our growth stems from our desire to learn and develop into better versions of ourselves.
Eventually, man will be able to achieve a state of Nirvana and will be enlightened, according to my Philosophy professors. The reason for being is to achieve this state. While I do agree with this concept, for me, Nirvana is such a technical term that it’s very difficult to define. Instead, I’d like to think of Nirvana as a happy state. The reason why we all strive for excellence and growth is to be happy. Our actions and decisions today will shape us and help us achieve goals that will make us happy persons such that when we leave the physical realm, we will have no regrets. Happiness is relative – it can be as simple as getting your first paycheck, or making billions. But for as long as there is a desire to reach that happy place, man will continue to work hard and act in order to achieve this.

Pats Tantioco Miranda
Reflection Paper #2: Society, Philippine Society
Whenever I hear the word "society," the first thing that comes to my mind is that it is a group of individuals gathered together because of something in common among them - a common purpose, common geographical area, common characteristics, common interests, or common beliefs. For example, the Philippine Cancer Society aims to spread awareness for cancer. The American Society is a nation with an ethnically and racially diverse population bound together by their territory. The Midnight Society from the 90's famous series, Are You Afraid of the Dark, brings together teenagers who like to talk about scary stories. The Knights Templar is a group whose members believed that they are the guardians of the sacred treasures.
            The structure and system within a society results to a harmonious relationship among its members despite the individual differences. The social interaction between the individuals produces a network of relationships where people are aware of their differences among each other, and yet are bound by a commonality among them.
Individuals can be members of several societies. From my point of view, I am a member of the Philippine society because of my geographical location, the Society of Breastfeeding Moms because of my advocacy to promote breastfeeding in the Philippines, and the society of IT professionals because of my occupation. Within each society, I encounter people not exactly having the same interests or beliefs as I do, but we get along well because of the common culture of the society we belong to.
            Societies are an important component of a person's growth as it directly influences a person's life. I believe that society is where a person learns, discovers himself, and eventually grows into the person that he is. For instance, my family is the very first society I belong to. Had my parents believed that gambling is the only way to make money, I would probably be found in casinos each night trying my luck. Society also has the capacity shape individuals based on its culture and norms, but sometimes it's sad when society tells you to be yourself and yet judge you for it.

The Philippine Society
            Being born from the Philippines, I have always had a love-hate relationship with the Philippine society. I must admit, this society is instrumental in shaping me to become who I am today. I may not love everything about it, but I still am grateful for being part of this society.
            There are several things I absolutely love about the Philippine, and I would gladly shout it out to the world. First, there's the Filipino hospitality that the world knows about. Filipinos are genuinely caring when it comes to visitors, and they would gladly go out of their way to ensure their guests have a pleasant stay. Second is the Filipino concept of reciprocation, or "Utang Na Loob." I have come to appreciate this trait because as I grow up, I feel that I owe a lot to my parents and I want to repay them for all the wonderful things they have done for me. This is not an obligation on my part, but rather an act of love for the people who have sacrificed so much to get me where I am. Truly, the values formation in the Philippine society is second to none. I want my children to be raised with the same values as I have been raised, and the Philippine society is the perfect venue.
Third, what I think is good about the Philippine society is the Filipino pride. Every time you meet a Filipino anywhere in the world, you would always feel that sense of pride in being born from the Philippines. A lot of talents who have become world famous have Filipino lineage, and as a part of the society, we can't help but be proud of our fellow countrymen. Fourth, the Philippine society is strong as one. When the country was hit with super-typhoon Haiyan, Filipinos prayed as one for the safety of our countrymen. When the threat of a corrupted government official arose, we marched in protest to ensure the future of our society. When united, I feel as if we can go against the world. Finally, what is good about the Philippine society is that indomitable spirit of its people. Natural disasters may have battered the country, poverty may have caused people to suffer, and terrorism may have threatened our peace and order. And yet, the Filipino stood strong, with a smile - a glimmer of hope in the midst of all the chaos. The perfect example would be Manny Pacquaio. Despite many hardships, despite several knockdowns, he did not give up.
            On the other hand, the Philippine society is also plagued with negative traits that somehow have stuck with us for several generations now. There's the crab mentality which stems from our history with colonial occupants. Until now, Filipinos still have this way of thinking, and it's a bit sad because with the advent of social media, it has become very rampant and very obvious. In addition, the obvious lack of education due to poverty and corruption of government officials have produced ignorant voters that seem to be contented with the mediocre performance of the ones they chose for office. It has actually been a sick cycle of corruption and ignorance – the poor become poorer and the rich become richer. Corrupt government officials abuse the people’s money and keep the money all to themselves, and yet the people still vote for them come election time. Why? The lack of education makes the masses easily swayed by money, fame, and drama. Which brings me to the next trait of Philippine society that I utterly don’t like – too melodramatic. Filipinos love drama, from soap operas to media sensations and even to political controversies. The Filipino masses mostly decide because of their emotions rather than their intellect. That’s why celebrities easily penetrate the political space because Filipinos feel that they can relate so much.
Take for instance the Binays of Makati. Currently they are hammered with controversies left and right, and yet they still have a strong following behind them. Why? According to the cab driver I talked to earlier today, he said that his family felt the presence of the Binays during their 20-year stay in the city. They receive goods every Christmas, their children receive free education, and the Mayor himself visits their area during town fiestas. It doesn’t matter to him how corrupt the Binays are, he is happy because he felt that he was being taken care of. I wanted to tell him that we, the working class, are directly affected because it’s our taxes that the Binays are extorting, but that’s another story and I’m about to get off anyway.
In summary, I believe that society plays a major role in a person’s life, and that society has the ability to influence how the person grows up and lives. However, it is still up to the person if he or she will follow society’s norms or not. Also I believe that the Philippine society is a good society for a person’s growth despite the many negative traits within it. I am happy to belong to this society and I hope I can contribute to changing the negative elements for the better.

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