The invisible gorilla: A metaphor for PH’s regressive path | Inquirer Opinion

The invisible gorilla: A metaphor for PH’s regressive path

/ 05:01 AM July 11, 2024

Eleanor Pinugu’s “What hinders creativity” (Undercurrent, 6/24/24) describes the invisible gorilla as not just an interesting experiment but a crucial metaphor for the country’s current regressive path. This experiment, which demonstrates “selective brain attention” demands our attention and engagement. Our vaunted attachment to religion has been a death blow to our natural innovative capacity and vision. The Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) results show that even our young people are beginning to exhibit signs of falling into the abyss of religious paralysis, unable or unwilling to find answers beyond what the padre says on a Sunday morning. Generations before have forsaken them to be submissive and accepting. Deep in his hippocampus, a voice says, “Stifle yourself!”

As a boomer who has experienced 14 years of Catholic education, I can attest that critical thinking skills were never a priority. It has never been in the interest of the ruling class (aka government) and the Church to encourage clear and rational thinking among the citizenry. Our institutions, like our undernourished school children, have long suffered from the “stunting” effects of a “fixed mindset.” Pinugu’s article rightly points this out, but she doesn’t address the source of this ongoing national decrepitude. It all started when Ferdinand Magellan planted a cross on the shores of Cebu in 1521.

Why do we fall to a single spiritual narrative and immediately “take it to the bank”? We take all kinds of time, listen to all views, and study the opposition on the most mundane issues but would not spend a minute to question what the padre is saying. He tells you, “You are going to hell,” and without batting an eyelash, you are down on your knees, asking for forgiveness. Think about it: how did humanity cease to be rational at the mere mention of spirituality? Why do we behave so differently as soon as Joe puts his “collar” and a giant cross around his neck?

So now, besides showing our youth’s illiteracy, Pisa also indicates a fallback on our intuitive affinity for ingenuity, one of many adverse consequences of dogmatic overexposure. Absolutism and fixed religious ideology are a bane to creativity.


Our movers and shakers are tone-deaf to the realities of a sectarian influence. Many things we dislike in our country today are a cumulative fallout of generations of our preoccupation with an afterlife, an “intersubjective reality” at best. Our childhood attachment to theological fantasies has tenaciously clung to our consciousness. We cannot learn from the ongoing volatility of the intolerant Abrahamic-inspired Middle East.

It takes seeing the elephant in the room and witnessing a populace determined to rid itself of this albatross to bring us to a forward-thinking mindset. Are we too dense to learn from Scandinavia, or now, how about a secular Vietnam?

Edwin de Leon, [email protected]

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