Friday, June 14, 2013

Reason & Concern

Ronquillo C. Tolentino


With the mid-term elections over, we can expect a flood of flattery given by supporters to the political victors.

Political flattery may sound or appear to be excessive compliments. But the adulation are designed or made for the purpose of gaining an advantage or benefit with the subject being flattered.

Flattery, in any form, had been considered by some historians and philosophers as a problem in ethics and politics.

The Pakistani woman writer Rubina Mushtaq wrote a critical observation of flattery in her article titled Art of Flattery, thus: “Flattery flourishes as an art to benefit from those who wield power and authority.

“The tradition of Sycophancy flourishes in our society. We try not to be in any way behind our illustrious predecessors.  We always try to flatter our seniors. The irony is that he himself starts to believe that he is a reincarnation of the past heroes.

“In Feudal culture, power and authority demand praise for qualities they do not have any. As a tool to achieve ends, it is further infiltrated in our political and social institutions where heads expect to be adored by their subordinates. It is the easiest way to win favors. To please them and to get favors from them, it’s important to admire every act of theirs.

“Sycophancy closely watches and observes its targets as it is not easier to charm a person especially one’s senior. They keep watching weaknesses, their likes and dislikes and how to exploit their emotions and make them happy. They must have to know the best time to praise their senior.

“Sycophants must have the skill to praise their senior for their wisdom and sagacity. If their targets enjoy relationship, they admire their sacrifices. If the person is rich, they flatter him for his generosity and large heartedness.

“Flattery becomes a sophisticated art. To please them and to get favors from them one has to praise every act of theirs. So flattery develops a language of its own and coined beautiful phrases interspersed with couplets. He had to control his body movements and sweeten his voice in order to shower praise.

“In old ages rulers were pleased by poets in exaggerated ways for their victories, conquests, generosity and bravery. And in turn they were generously rewarded with robe of honor and costly gifts.

“But the flattery sometimes misfires and the senior would become angry. “It blinds the recipients, a result they usually commit blunders and nobody has the courage to tell them about their follies which lead to their decline.”

It is said that associations with flattery are negative. Flattery’s negative description may be shown or read in The Bible. Anybody who has read Dante’s Divine Comedy  shall probably read Dante’s depiction of flatterers as walking in human excrement, comparing words of flattery as equivalent of excrement, in “the 8th cycle of Hell”.

Notes: In a show of political statemanship, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile gave way for Senator Franklin Drilon’s assumption of the Senate presidency by an early resignation as senate president although he has three years left as senator. Nonetheless, the outgoing senate president had a resignation cum privilege speech but without being oblivious of his detractors- Senators Allan Peter Cayetano and Miriam Defensor Santiago. 

Although Enrile’s speech was not vitriolic and vituperative, he was inclined to recollect, referring to Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago without naming her, as the author and source of the virulent attack against him. 

Defeat is natural in every political elections. Time and again, I had quoted H.W. Beecher on what he said about defeat: “It is defeat  that turns bone to flint, and gristle to muscle, and makes men invincible, and formed those heroic natures that are now in ascendency in the world - Do not then be afraid of defeat. - You are never so near to victory as when defeated in a good cause.” /MP

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