Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Blind obedience

Does it explain why we have the least patents granted among the countries in the region? We know Thomas Aquinas – "the most saintly of learned men and the most learned of saints” and “his “Summa” is acclaimed as Christian doctrine in scientific form” [The Catholic Encyclopedia] – yet we would concede to being fatalistic in more ways than one? And not surprisingly Fr. Rolando V. de la Rosa, O.P. reminds us that “hope takes work”! [11th Aug 2012, Manila Bulletin]

Why do patents matter? Because it means that we can create things of value. Value creation is an imperative if we are to become a broad-based (inclusive, as we like to say it) and a competitive developed economy; that is to say, we need more than CCT, more than the low-hanging fruit that we’ve relied on for decades like OFW remittances and more than a consumption economy that we’re proud about. But if our starting position or mindset is one of fatalism, even a generation may not suffice to elevate us to developed-economy status? Because the status quo is akin to: "see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil"? And it is how, unwittingly, we nurture corruption – especially absent the commitment to the common good?

We recognize that education is thus key if we are to be an economy driven by value creation. And thankfully we are actively addressing our education challenges – and putting our money (via the education budget) where our mouth is! Yet beyond K+12 and the use of the native tongue, our institutions of higher learning must … be hospitable to an infinite variety of skills and viewpoints, relying upon open competition among them as the surest safeguard of truth. Its whole spirit requires investigation, criticism, and presentation of ideas in an atmosphere of freedom and mutual confidence. This is the real meaning of ‘academic’ freedom.” [March, 1953, Association of American Universities] And from Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2nd Sept 2012, quoting Pope John Paul II: “No university can rightfully deserve the esteem of the world of higher learning unless it applies the highest standards of scientific research, constantly updating the methods and working instruments, and unless it excels in seriousness, and therefore in freedom of investigation.”

The path of least resistance can’t be informing our worldview, precisely why our elders counseled us about Juan Tamad? We can’t face the world from a position of weakness? ["The country either landed at the bottom half of the 10-member Asean or found its performance slipping in most indicators," Philippine Daily Inquirer, 12th Sept 2012.] And we can’t be protected by the skirts of hierarchy and privilege and inadvertently perpetuate a system of oligarchy – and the lopsided economy that we’ve accepted and been resigned to?

For change to occur, social scientists postulate that knowledge must come down from the head to the heart and to the gut. We have been addressing many of our shortcomings from an intellectual standpoint – e.g., our global rankings in competitiveness and governance, among others. But for, say, corruption to be arrested, we must believe in our hearts that it’s a no-no. We can’t keep invoking compassion. A red light means stop! Those who support the former CJ are now calling for compassion thus taking the imperative of restitution for granted – the converse of what we learned in the Sacrament of Penance? We can’t be back to square-one. We can’t come ever close to establishing the rule of law and transparency and speed and predictability that the US ambassador talks about – to be an attractive haven for foreign investors – until we challenge our “paki culture”? Or have the privileges that come with our rank undercut the character-building our elders like Sergio Osmeña demonstrated? [http://philippinesfreepress.wordpress.com/1986/02/02/the-conscience-of-the-filipino-the-exemplar/]

We can’t be undermining – through misplaced compassion – the foundations of civilized human institutions if we are to create a broad-based, inclusive and a competitive developed economy driven by value creation: starting with a commitment to investment that is directed to technology and innovation and education or talent and product and market development!

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