Image by C.S. Hughes

There is a Filipino social ill that many scholars, thinkers, academics, concerned Filipino citizens, and the nation's leaders have decried: Crab Mentality. When I was in Elementary, my teachers have denounced this attitude and character trait of Filipinos. This topic was taken up both in Social Studies and in Values Education. In fact, this trait created much concern in caring social pundits that I've even come across a TV show that featured Crab Mentality, a few years ago.

Before I go on, I'd like to define Crab Mentality first: Crab Mentality is basically envy, jealousness or covetousness that causes a person to say and do things to drag another person down. Have you ever seen a bunch of crabs dumped in a basket? When they try to free themselves from their wicker prison, they tend to climb on top of the other crabs to get to the top. The other crabs, seeing Crabby #1 climb up, would clip one of its legs and drag it back down with them. That is probably the origin of this label.

Frankly, I don't see why Filipinos have to lay claim to that trait. We're not the only people who are guilty of envy to a cancerous degree. Just like we're not the only people who have the monopoly on corruption, we certainly are not the first and only people who are guilty of being best friends with the Green-Eyed Monster.

In the show I watched, I found it interesting to note that a social pundit said that there's a good side to crab mentality: that what the other crabs are just saying, as Crabby #1 rises up, that all they really want is for Crabby #1 to "Take us with you."

That's right. All the other crabs who want to drag Crabby #1 down are pleading is that they too, could rise to the top with him.

That's cute. But I still don't see why Crabby #1 had to be dragged down. If Crabby #1 wanted to help them, he shouldn't be dragged down and forced to do so, right? He should have the freedom of will to gladly help his other crustacean brethren. If he's a huge jerk and won't help any of them up, it would only show what kind of crab he is.

That being said, I believe that the only way we can counter Crab Mentality is to work excellently, wherever we are, whatever stage in life we are in, whatever the state of our finances. If other people are being corrupt and yet are getting promotions, what's that to you? You work excellently, period. And if the heat is frying your aligue off you, then get out of the kitchen.

The only way we can collectively progress as a nation is when we work towards our own progress, stop dragging other people down, and cultivating a heart that wants to help our brethren. The moment we get the hang of that is the moment we truly get to kick the cancer of Crab Mentality.