Tuesday, February 28, 2006

(A Talk delivered at the Institute for Solidarity in Asia on February 28, 2006)

The Catholic Bishops of the Philippines have been issuing pastoral letters to provide a moral compass for the decisions being made or proposed for the common good of our people. We can not stop doing what it is our duty to do: to remind our people and those who purport to lead them that core values drawn from natural law and the eternal law should serve as the moral foundations upon which we further build our nation.

Foundations securely a anchored on morals, and therefore on ethics, social responsibility and good governance make the institutions in our country strong; and such strong institutions can then work together to enhance the personal dignity of every individual as well as to promote the common good of our country. This happens, however, only if the agents of change and the transmitters of values in our society are empowered and invested with a deep sense of responsible citizenship. The family, the school, the business enterprise, and governance units at all levels should be at the forefront of our attention: through them we should ensure that all the programs we formulate, the projects we undertake, the targets we set, as one national community, are pervaded with the proper values that lead to the genuine development of our people.

Considering the social, economic, political and cultural imbalances and crises we are in, our vision of renewing Philippine public life is almost like a utopian dream. Both EDSA People Power I and II—successful and non-violent revolutions—stand in support of this dream. But we want this dream to become a growing passion and an obsession for every Filipino. To achieve this, we need to have at least a critical mass of nationalists who are willing to jump on to the beginning of a new political wave, to move into a new cycle of development, to operate with a social consciousness and conscience not for their individual or group safety and security, but for the good of the greatest number. We need servant-prophets of a new social order.

The scientist, Albert Einstein, offered a formula for solving the problems and crises that institutions, governments and churches are facing when he said: “The significant problem we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” We will not solve our problem by insisting on doing the things that have produced the problem. Jesus Christ began his public ministry with a similar message “The time fulfillment has come…Repent (i.e. change your mind and behavior), and believe in the Gospel” (Mk. 1/15). The great Apostle Paul gives his rejoinder: “Be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the kindness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4/23).

The National Roadmap that has been unveiled fortunately captures these core ideas and invites all sectors of our society to taken them into so serious and account as to actually try to observe them. It establishes a fundamental and essential link between core values and strategic programs. It calls for full consistency between our core values and the measures we take, the targets we set, and the initiatives we undertake. Moreover, it asks all the drivers of change—the family, the school, the business enterprise, the governance units, and I might add all sectors of our society—to begin posing this question: what can we do for the common good of our national community? And in trying to answer this question, it strongly suggests that whatever answer we give must be fully consistent with the vision and mission we should have for our country and the core values that should underlie all aspects of our national life.

The most seriously affected by the crisis of moral values in the country are the poor, the marginalized, oftentimes exploited and treated like commodities. Graft and corruption have been flagrant and endemic, breeding poverty. Widespread poverty in turn breeds graft and corruption. The crisis of leadership at the highest level is like the tip of an “iceberg.” There is a concatenation of corruption that goes down to the barangay level, up and down and up, infecting the whole body politic like a contagious cancer. It deprives the poor of permanent shelter, health benefits, liberating education, dignified employment and above all sufficient food. To cure this social cancer we need a new breed of leaders in our country.

We must be able to gather a critical mass of like – minded and good willed nationalists, with a passion and obsession for good governance and prophetic leadership. This critical mass will be the training ground of other nationalists who will lead our country with the values of honesty and justice, truth and integrity, credibility and accountability, transparency and stewardship. These are the values—criteria that citizens must use to raise up a new breed of statespersons.

I fully this approach, I commend it to every sector and institution of our country. Follow it and make sure core values permeate all programs, targets and initiatives proposed and subsequently taken, monitored, and scored! It is the link between core values and decisions as well as actions we have been taking that has been missing for too long in our country. For as long as that link remains missing, we end up with more than a few leaders who act more like a band of thieves rather than as a band of responsible statespersons deeply committed to the common good of all.

28 February 2006

1 comment:

frederic said...

Given this Philippine political and socio-cultural conjuncture, I agree with you that there is indeed a need for a new breed of states persons with exemplar value system and prophetic stance. However, the key in the process of birthing these new breed of prophets is for us to help create a condition that will pave the way to it.

I believe that it won't go against the Catholic Social Doctrines if the Philippine Church would convene a group of experts with unblemished integrity in the field of economy, politics, and various sectors with the broadest array of consciousness in order to plot a blueprint that would prepare and create the condition where the new breed of secular prophets will be born.

There are many groups who have been trying to formulate good alternatives. It would be best if the Church could consolidate these so-called good alternatives and endorse them to the people should such alternatives be found not in contrary with the Social Doctrines.