Resilience porn addiction

The resiliency we have come to know and love (albeit for the wrong reasons) isn’t resiliency at all, but abuse—we aren’t doing well in the face of tragedy and trauma, we are mere subjects to cruel treatment and excessive neglect.
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The Filipino people are residents of the frequent large-scale calamity—you name it: the off-season typhoon (and the subsequent flooding), the regular eruption of a volcano or two, the nightly series of earthquakes, and more recently, the international outbreak of a deadly disease and the disastrous response of our government following the wake of said outbreak—just a regular day in the life of the modern Filipino (But, hey! We can get through anything the world throws our way, right? We’re just so tough and resilient, no catastrophe can put us down!). Truth is, when those we look up to for aid fail us, we are left with nothing but the hope that our infamous resilience saves us. We are constantly fed images of citizens battling through torrential winds and surviving pandemics amidst poverty, and we respond with awestruck oohs and ahhs. We have grown to love—no, we are now addicted to this narrative: that people in poverty are the strongest among us, that their stories of resilience are an inspiration to all—when it couldn’t be farther from the truth.

When our own people are thrown into rock bottom, and they manage to survive the fall, we should help them climb back out, not cheer them on for how they survived. We should stop searching for silver linings when there shouldn’t be any—not everyone has the privilege of doing so. This rhetoric creates a very dangerous mindset: it romanticizes hardship and objectifies people in poverty by reducing the horrors they have gone through to inspirational stories for those who live in comfort to immerse themselves in. We have put the misfortunes of our countrymen into little boxes for us to watch and feel better of ourselves—like obsessive, pornographic viewing.

And yet, it isn’t difficult to understand how this thinking came to be. This well known resilience, or the “Filipino spirit”, can also be the rock that people hold on to as the worst things in life come knocking at their doorstep, like an anchor of strength amidst difficulty.
However, this belief ultimately does more harm than it does good, no matter how optimistic we force ourselves to be. This thinking and this news angling merely shifts the burden to the citizens by allowing the government and those reliable to deny and forfeit the protection and support they need. By doing so, we negate the need for practical and essential government plans for alleviating poverty, and in return, our focus is directed incorrectly: we uphold resiliency instead of holding governments accountable, we rely on self-sufficiency instead of questioning why those in power do nearly nothing to aid us, and we applaud the barest of all efforts as the standard has been set so low. But this isn’t how things should be. As Filipino ex-journalist Alanah Torralba once said, “Our ability to withstand adversity should not preclude us from demanding accountability.”

In the end, the resiliency we have come to know and love (albeit for the wrong reasons) isn’t resiliency at all, but abuse—we aren’t doing well in the face of tragedy and trauma, we are mere subjects to cruel treatment and excessive neglect. Those in poverty have gone through the punishments of life time and time again, and because they come out alive, their stories of tribulations are mispainted as sources of inspiration. And like any addiction, we feel the impulse to listen to these stories of poverty and cannot seem to stop—we eat it all up like spoiled, addicted gluttons and forget that things could be better—can always be better. We need to stop romanticizing and objectifying people in poverty as something beautifully inspiring, but see it for what it truly is: an injustice towards our most vulnerable.C

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