Thursday, September 27, 2012

“Argumentum ad lazarum” in our everyday society

(Note: written in English for broader audience, I promise to transliterate this to Tagalog one of these days) Philippines is known for one common scene especially if you’re in the metropolis, squatters. However, in order not to offend both the masses and those that use them, let us the more soft term, informal settlers. Actually, you know the stereotype or the usual story. Person will build a house in another person’s property. Then, another group of people will come and stay in that propety. So on and so forth. Then, years after, when the owner of the property wanted to build, let’s say a factory, the settlers will protest. They will use the media, telling that they will not have a place to stay. Maybe some of you know how some (not all) have used this to earn money, but I’ll not move further. My point is not about the settlers per se, let the local government deal with them. It is how people have used poverty to justify their argument. In logic, it is called argumentum ad lazarum or appeal to poverty. The word “lazarum” was derived from the Biblical character Lazarus (of the Lazarus and the rich man parable). This argument is not exclusive only to social issues, but also includes everyday conversation. Let me give you an example. One time, a guy is inside his girlfriend’s house having a conversation with his girlfriend’s family. At the duration of the conversation, the guy is starting to notice that one of his girlfriend’s sister starting to be out of line. In order to be nice, he humorously reminded the girl not to act like and talk in that manner. Instead of being taken seriously, he was made fun of. To avoid mentioning offending words, he just walked out. However, due to cpredicted circumstances, he returned to his girlfriend’s house. Because of this, his girlfriend’s mother reprimanded him. It’s normal. The guy is wrong for walking out (but not for reminding the girl of her wrong attitude). The girlfriend’s mother stated, “YOU RICH PEOPLE DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE SENSITIVE”. THAT, I say, is an example of an appeal to poverty. Some people have used this way of speaking to have it their way, plainly because they are poor or in poverty. They can speak foul words, plainly because they are poor. That is so not fair, in a human sense of the word. For starters, being rich and being poor don’t have anything to do with correcting a person for her wrong attitude. The so called rich guy came in nicely and with respect. Yes, insecurities play a role on this, but one should put his composure and focus on facts – the fact that, in that example, a negative attitude must be corrected. Facts and evidence are still the best tool. Right is right. Wrong is wrong. Let us not be stupid. Let’s not be blinded plainly because a person is poor. Poor doesn’t equate being right, the way speaking and writing in Tagalog doesn’t mean being humble. Facts, evidence, and logic. Even if it is difficult, let’s stick to them in matters like this.

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