Many people are content to take the world as it is, to accept without question the prevailing worldview as passed down to them by their parents, teachers, and other authority figures; Irwin is most definitely not one of these people. A 27-year-old native of the Philippines who arrived in Canada seven years ago, Irwin is a highly-motivated student of the world and self-professed “seeker of truth.”
While some new arrivals to Canada are stymied by cultural differences, upon his arrival Irwin immediately set out to learn as much as possible about his new home.
“I was new to the country and didn’t really know anything,” he recalls. “I felt anxious just ordering something from a fast food restaurant. So I found a job, made a little money and began researching the culture on the internet.”
Using resources like YouTube and various podcasts, Irwin began the seemingly monumental task of learning about his new home, a process that would lead to a seismic shift in how he saw the world. He soon took a liking to the unvarnished, often uncompromising qualities of stand-up comedy, particularly the work of the late George Carlin.
“In comedy you can actually tell the truth without deliberately hurting someone,” he says. “In ‘King Lear’ for example, the Jester is the only one who can criticize the king, who can tell the truth. Carlin did that.”
As the next step in his personal evolution, Irwin said goodbye to the Catholic faith which had been part of his upbringing. Seeing there were many different religions in many different countries made him question how any of them could be correct.
“It wasn’t so much that I lost my religion as it wasn’t there in the first place,” he says. “When you talk about beliefs that were imposed upon you as a child, you realize it’s not something you chose.”
Eventually, Irwin’s quest for knowledge took him to the halls of higher education, specifically a course in psychology at Victoria’s Camosun College, where his uncompromising search for answers ran afoul of his professor.
“I would ask questions in class,” he says. “But my professor wasn’t interested in having a debate. Afterward he approached me and told me my questions were ‘high level thinking’. I was frustrated didn’t make it past the first year.”
Not one to let an experience like that slow him down, Irwin’s education has continued the way it started – independent and highly efficient.
“It’s not like I can’t talk about something unimportant like pop culture,” he says. “Because I can. It’s fun – thrilling even. But that’s not what life is, and if you’re only talking about those topics there’s no potential to achieve some kind of growth. And that’s what I’m aiming for – growth. At least once a year I want to learn something new, – a skill, whatever. To change an old idea because it was wrong.”
Now, Irwin has set his sights on the next goalpost in his quest for truth: going from merely listening to podcasts to creating one of his own. The project, which Irwin wants to have a solid foundation in both debate and philosophy while retaining a healthy sense of humor, will be called “Observing the Ego” and will go live once Irwin can find a co-host.
If you’re interested in spirited discussion about whether or not the accepted truths of our modern world hold water, drop the man a line – you may be just the person he’s looking for.