Monday, July 9, 2012

From the mind . . . to successful realization

The distance between the mind where an idea sits and its successful realization is a great one. And, unsurprisingly, we easily dissected the recent UST lecture of Malaysia's Mahathir – like we had dissected the lecture of Lee Kuan Yew of years ago? But isn’t it time to demonstrate moving an idea, from merely dissecting, to something tangible for the common good? We are 50 years behind!

Is Juan de la Cruz too smart for his own good? And to confound our predicament, we pronounce green shoots as ready for harvest? And so we like to say: “The glass is half-full”! [Counting the chickens before they’re hatched?] If the typical factors of production – men/women, machine, materials, money, method – are a challenge to pull together, what more of an economy? Especially in this day and age of global competition where products and services must be innovative and competitive if a nation is to generate robust revenues? Even a Nokia and a Blackberry, once powerhouses in technology, could hit a wall; how can green shoots automatically translate to an appreciable increase in our national revenues? The bottom line: we have to exert our best efforts if we are to overcome underdevelopment – i.e., we need an incremental GDP of > $100 billion! And we don’t want to do ourselves a disservice by being lulled into complacency? Global competition is so many folds more intense than the Ateneo-La Salle rivalry, for instance.

Of course, Mahathir, like Lee Kuan Yew, was a strongman. And we resent autocracy – and want more freedom! Yet we don't describe our ultimate value as one of nationhood – one that we could be proud of because it is directed to the common good? It is what nation-building is about. Freedom, despite its nice ring, can indeed be misguided when public servants – supposedly sworn to transparency – would claim privacy of foreign currency deposits to be a fundamental right . . . as we saw, for example, in ex-CJ Corona and legislators who valued our supposed sovereignty over the call for good global citizenship? Thankfully we finally got around to this reality. Indeed we have to keep working and learning about good citizenship given our cacique system – of rank, privilege and entitlement – which doesn’t hold it paramount, as is the common good?

And so what do we really mean when we say that we want democracy – Philippine-style – based on our history and culture? We want to preserve respect for elders or respect for hierarchy and the cacique culture? To be egalitarian was what our forebears fought for yet today we feel entitled to enlarge our own domestic staffs, and in the bigger scheme of things, our OFWs? They are the modern-day manifestations of our hierarchical history – and an utterly failed economy! They toil long and hard away from home and family while our businesses get the spoils, and why our economy is able to stay afloat! It is not to write home about, but we’ve set a low bar and so we celebrate it?

Or do we want to learn from the Greeks – they, who invented democracy? Writes the managing editor of the Greek daily newspaper Kathimerini, NY Times, 15th Jun 2012, "We lost the self-discipline, moderation and inventiveness that once helped the Greeks achieved great things, and we succumbed to political expediency, delusions of grandeur and a fatal sense of entitlement . . . What I want to remember from Greece in 2012 is how laziness and years of intellectual sloppiness can waste the gift of freedom and leave open the gates of the city – how we allowed our leaders to pander to us until we had no one capable of leading us . . ."

We may realize that Mahathir makes sense when he speaks to the imperatives of education, industrialization and technology – beyond foreign direct investments – but we have yet to get our mind fine-tuned because to respect our history and culture means to factor in all the complexities in Juan de la Cruz? And it is what makes us intellectually superior? What about learning to be forward-looking? It is only after we are crystal clear that we want to successfully face the future – for the common good – would we then be able to figure out the rigors of successful realization: who will do what, when, where and how! And that demands both the leadership and the citizenry working together towards a vision, of an egalitarian society! But that’s our forebears, not us – too bad so sad – and which explains why we're a failed economy?

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