Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The tail wagging the dog

Now NGOs are the flavor of the month; and true to form, we Pinoys are into dissecting their merits and/or demerits. The US generates over $300 billion in charity contributions and the Catholic Church is the biggest benefactor to America's poor. Yet as the world knows, poverty is as present in America as it is in underdeveloped countries; and the proverb goes "infant mortality in the Bronx is worse than in the poor countries of Africa." And which is why Clinton chose to set up his office in the Bronx, and attract investment in and stimulate the gentrification of the community. And it is common knowledge that Clinton organized a very high profile NGO that is reportedly winning the campaign against HIV/AIDS.
I covered Africa with my old MNC company and recognized the gravity of the HIV/AIDS problem – i.e., receiving emails about the funerals of family members if not the employees themselves was not uncommon. But are we in PHL becoming a one-issue faith, that of RH, especially given “the sacredness of the body”? Do we then throw the dying people in Africa to hell? What about the increasing number of Pinoys suffering from HIV/AIDS – and recall that the disease was brought in by OFWs that we once put on a pedestal for being modern-day heroes, because we ourselves had contracted the “Dutch disease”? And who was it who kept company with prostitutes and usurers – i.e., the worst sinners during the time – and spoke to the Great Commandment, while the scribes and Pharisees kept to their “300 tenets”?
Is it any wonder why Francis opted to live in a hotel with visitors to the Vatican (the “less saintly”?) than with those from the Curia while upending hierarchy? Yet we Pinoys measure the world with our yardstick that is inward-looking, parochial, insular and hierarchical? But theologians can argue RH either way, i.e., the conservative wing would argue like we do; yet the liberals, for example, made mincemeat of a Papal encyclical before the time of Francis? Our faith has stood the test of time, but it is its insularity that has undermined its ability to keep believers? And so says Francis, if it is to remain catholic and universal, then it better be? And to paraphrase Cardinal Tagle, we better walk with the poor so we understand what being poor means. Put another way, we better walk with those with HIV/AIDS (like a doctor-friend does) so we understand what being sick means?
But back to NGOs: The development work in Eastern Europe our group signed up for was with an NGO funded jointly by the private sector and USAID. Yet we knew that we didn’t represent the "vital few" but the "trivial many" – although we were committed to set the example and be the best practice model for industry in developing countries, bringing to bear our Fortune 500 experience. The bottom line: NGOs like charity-giving represent the tail that can't be wagging the dog. And as Clinton famously said, and indeed it helped defeat the older Bush, "It's the economy, stupid!"
But then again, when or if we learn to benchmark our economy, the US is not a comparable. We have to measure ourselves against our neighbors: how did they move up from being mere developing nations while we've been stuck for the longest time? The US is a well-developed economy and thus their cost structures are extremely high while their major products and services have strong global penetration – i.e., they can't be a growth economy. And so we must look at our neighbors that have proven themselves better able to raise the wellbeing of their people than we've done?
The bottom line: We can’t seem to escape our inward-looking, parochial, insular and hierarchical worldview such that we see merit in the tail wagging the dog? So pork (or crab mentality?) will stay with a new but still our favorite label of inclusive, holistic and comprehensive? What about learning to be transparent and to prioritize – so that our economy could put on some legs (like power, basic infrastructure and a strategic and competitive industry base), and not be at the mercy of charity-givers and beholden to oligopoly?
But RH is immoral beyond the sacredness of the body because it will undermine PHL demographics? And oligopoly hasn’t done it yet . . . with the wealthiest 50 Filipinos owning over a quarter of GDP while 50 million are going hungry – and whose spirits have long been dead? But more to the point, because of the dismal purchasing power of PHL (or GDP per person), foreign investment has looked elsewhere? And wasn’t it for a similar reason in Latin America that Francis had time for Liberation Theology minus its Marxist bent, i.e., the greater the social injustice the greater the immorality? But our moral fiber has gone kaput, to paraphrase an archbishop?

No comments:

Post a Comment