“If you can’t accept me at my worst ..."

is my Trade Tripper column in this weekend issue of BusinessWorld:

I am sure many of you have seen this inane meme on social media, you know the one with the words: “If you can’t accept me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best.” Somehow that thought never settled well with me, although I couldn’t put my finger on it at first. But recently reading what passes for news nowadays, I realized that the reason for the quote’s popularity was the increasing number of self-absorbed flaky people and their “advocacy” to have flakiness be accepted as the new normal.

In a recent article -- which I absolutely encourage everyone to read -- by blogger, social commentator Matt Walsh (http://themattwalshblog.com/2014/01/23/if-i-cant-accept-you-at-your-worst-then-maybe-you-should-stop-being-so-horrible/), he ably put forward the real implications of such sentiment:

“‘Yea I’m a b*tch but deal with it. I won’t be with anyone who cant accept all of who I am!!!
This was a grown woman. Apparently college educated. Older than me.
Out of all the profundities ever uttered, what does it say about our society that THIS is the quote we’ve decided to take to heart?
It says that we need to read more books.
Also, it says that we are horrible at relationships.
Yes, it’s true that, in a marriage, we must love our spouses in spite of their flaws. It’s also true that we all have flaws. But it’s ALSO true that only an infantile, spoiled, egotistical brat would ever treat a loved one with ‘her worst’ and expect them to deal with it because her ‘best’ will somehow compensate for it.
Newsflash: It’s not OK to be selfish, impatient, and out of control. These traits, while common, are UNacceptable. They should not be accepted, least of all by the people you claim to love. The onus is on YOU to change your behavior and your attitude, not on them to ‘handle it.’”

I have a theory: a country’s men can only be as good as its women. If women prefer their men infantilized, allowing them to remain as babies, letting them get fat, self-indulgent, loud, boorish, and insecure, then that’s exactly what we’ll get.

In one of his monologues on the hit show The Five, Greg Gutfeld commented on the self-destructive behavior of music star Justin Bieber. But in doing so, Gutfeld managed to say perhaps one of the most incisive and relevant observations in recent years, a point not necessarily new but something almost everyone forgot:

“I blame girls, look how he’s dressed... My point is no man will dress like that if girls didn’t approve, and that approval relinquishes their control over manliness. Women make men out of boys, and if they do not say grow up to a punk he never will grow up: like dump in public, cheat on spouses, spend cash on stupid clothes, drugs, and friends... This is not about Justin Bieber, it’s about all men and girls who expect so little from them. No wonder we’re a nation of babies sucking on the tweat of Twitter, exploding at perceived hurts online but you can’t bother to wear a belt. Women demand men.”

Unfortunately, to use Gutfeld’s words (from another monologue), if women prefer to “suspend critical thinking, replacing it with mindless euphoria driven by hormones and a desire for acceptance,” then what kind of men will we have?

We’ve been constantly bombarded with the message of “be yourself.” But that message, on its own, is inane. Left to ourselves, we’ll likely end up lazy, primitive, and dirty. It is because of our parents, family, and friends that we spur ourselves to “better ourselves.” Because being yourself is nothing if you don’t selflessly offer that self to others and hence the need to make what we offer be the best that can be.

Filipinos and Filipinas, however, need to again remember that bettering ourselves require effort, discipline, and perseverance. As Walsh points out: “We don’t emerge into the world as eternally entitled princes and princesses. We come into it as naked, crying, helpless babies. Our job is to grow out of that condition. And that will take a lot of changing and a lot of learning about what parts of us are unsuitable and insufficient and unacceptable. Sadly, some of us are unwilling to endure that process, so we never grow, and in failing to grow we fail to live. It’s a tragedy.”

This reminded me of a David Brooks’ article, “The Art of Growing Up,” regarding the maturation of Abraham Lincoln:

“In Lincoln’s day, to achieve maturity was to succeed in the conquest of the self. Human beings were born with sin, infected with dark passions and satanic temptations. The transition to adulthood consisted of achieving mastery over them.”

Alas, in today’s “feel good” social media culture or the academe’s obsession with Rawlsian thought, our people have chosen to ignore such commonsensical things as virtue, restraint, and self-discipline.

Fortunately, it’s never too late to turn ourselves around.