Monday, January 2, 2012

Beyond leadership

Leadership especially in a leader-dependent culture has a yeoman's task. And thus we need our institutions – by definition they handhold, reinforce and perpetuate our way of life – to be front and center? But in taking our hierarchical structure as a given, are we blindsided by the reality of underdevelopment characterized below the surface by patronage and paternalism, and yet only the tip (i.e., poverty) is what we see which gets us upset?

Societies of old experienced chaos, explained the elder in PNG village to the writer, thus the need for order and hierarchy. Yet as societies advanced the maturity brought a higher need – to be egalitarian. And Rizal expressed that need, and was critical of the Spanish hierarchy and the Catholic Church, both having taken for granted the norm of hierarchy? The western world demonstrated the evolution towards democracy and equality, and confirmed the pitfalls of hierarchy – e.g., that subservience undermines drive and motivation (as Eastern Europeans would invariably bring up.)

In an egalitarian environment people feel empowered, exhibited by college-dropouts Gates and Jobs, and taking down the mighty Big Blue. Yet progress is dynamic because of the nature of man – which Catechism tells us translates to 'according to the image and likeness of the Creator,' and endowed to do extraordinary works. IBM has since reinvented itself revealing man's facility for technology and innovation – and holding the distinction of owning the most patents. 'Man is the true measure of himself!' And to raise monopoly and oligarchic power as a model is akin to living in the dark ages? And why we remain an underdeveloped economy, and paying the price of endemic poverty?

Our largest enterprises see their competitive advantage in the ability to flex their muscles over the local economy, a throwback to the cacique era thus undermining the country’s progress and development. The good news is we’ve tabled Philippine competitiveness as a national priority and are hard at work. Yet our being the economic pariah calls for a sharper focus and greater cohesion, and more aggressive and uncompromising efforts and timelines, starting with a laser-like focus on the fundamental building blocks of the economy: power generation, basic infrastructure and a few strategic industries – and developing them to be truly world-class. The operative word is few – i.e., we have to put a stop to ‘crab mentality?’ We are the true measure of ourselves?

Has Rizal's issue with the church disappeared? While Juan de la Cruz needs the church in his search for meaning and inner strength, does the church for its part need to revisit its own role? Has the church become a victim (i.e., the sexual abuse cases) of its own unquestioned hierarchical character where the rule of law has been subordinated? Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s? Has the church reinforced our parochial instincts – and that between them and the school, there is a crying need to rethink our institutions? And that includes the public and the private sectors, and the media! To be parochial and hierarchical undercuts progress and development. And do we add insult to injury by espousing the belief that to be sheltered is to reinforce our faith – and worse, to be holier-than-thou, thus struggle with authenticity? But does it in fact create a soft culture that lends itself to an oppressive and corrupt system, and the wanton disregard of the rule of law? Given: vibrancy in a democracy comes from an empowered citizenry and thus equipped to make the requisite check-and-balance a reality! Absent empowerment makes Juan de la Cruz fence-sit?

. . . Twenty years since Gorbachev announced the dismantling of the Soviet Union, and capitalism replacing the Soviet planned economy, [what they have gone through] is largely to endure in silence the oppressive and corrupt system of power . . . until blatant irregularities in the parliamentary elections earlier this month sent an estimated 50,000 people out in protest,” writes Robert Service, a fellow at Oxford, NY Times, 23rd Dec. “Most Russians are sick of the corruption, misrule and poverty that plague their country while the . . . elite . . . feasts . . . But Russians . . . are awaking to the idea that if they want democracy and social justice, they need to engage in active struggle.”

We don’t need another EDSA but we need to wake up to the reality that ours is a broken system, a very broken one indeed! And we're bound to traverse the road of folly – of underdevelopment – if we assume that a president alone can fix the mess we’ve created? And our soft hearts blur cause and effect that we find ourselves barking at poverty?

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