Thursday, October 4, 2012

If a cardinal can be heretical . . .

Why does Juan de la Cruz have to wear a blinder?

The former archbishop of Milan and papal candidate Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini said the Catholic Church was "200 years out of date" in his final interview before his death . . .” [Reuters, 1st Sept 2012.] PHL is decades out of date and not surprisingly, we are economic laggards? I have been asked numerous times: do you think Juan de la Cruz can change his culture? If that means remaining decades out of date, then we can be assured that we shall be economic laggards?

It is well known that within the Vatican there is tension and the fact that Juan de la Cruz has opted to be with the conservatives does not mean the opposing view is evil? Blind obedience was never a measure of one’s faith – as the scribes and the Pharisees had to be told?

I am back in Eastern Europe and one of the four business unit managers in my client's organization confided that her success seems to be creating tension within the company. And I thought about the debate within the Vatican – and explained that it is what “dynamic tension” is about, and it is a positive! And she would easily relate to the example because under communist rule there was no such tension – they were simply subservient and Godless. And so when the first domino fell, the rest followed suit.

We are very smart people. We know what we need to do and not be the embarrassment of the region as an economy. But we are so wedded to the past and thus move as though in slow-motion if not frozen to inaction? [The feisty Solita Monsod would call it “bureaucratic atrophy” (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 8th Sept 2012) although she like the late cardinal was talking about sexual harassment/abuse. But the reality is respect if not subservience to hierarchy comes with the other side of the same coin, i.e., abuse.]

Consider: PIDS, the state-run think tank, knows that we are deficient in investment and manufacturing – and by definition, technology. Yet we have opted to proudly trumpet the aggressive investments of the same half-a-dozen of our tycoons when our gross investment as a nation pales in comparison with regional norms. And in manufacturing and technology we’re not regional much less global players. That is not to minimize the contributions of our tycoons but to demonstrate that we are of the old-cacique school. We haven’t developed a bias for investment and technology and manufacturing, for example, because they are not the characteristics of our success model – i.e., it is one of hierarchy and monopoly which, sadly, undermines transparency thus perpetuates and accounts for our endemic corruption? (I am not also minimizing our efforts behind the uptick in our competitiveness rankings, which is laudable, yet we must keep our eye on the ‘North Star.’ And in global competition that means satisfying regional if not global investment norms, demonstrating a bias for innovation, aggressive education or talent and product and market development.)

And so while we’re pulling our best minds and ideas together to address the power issue, for instance, (and our infrastructure gaps filled and our road maps in agribusiness and manufacturing, among others, done and executed) we cannot unwittingly limit our options because of parochial cum hierarchical bias – which we mistake for patriotism? We don’t want to flirt and risk continuing to lag the region even as we pursue these major initiatives – recognizing that in the global competitive arena no one respects tradition and hierarchy the way we instinctively do? (In fairness, even among our elders there was tension: those perceived as being old school were labeled 'matanda sa una'.)

[Note: After turning my blog postings into a book I shall henceforth write in the first person]

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