Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Is it Francis not Padre Damaso?

“CBCP chief seeks ‘Pope Francis’ approach vs. corruption,” Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News, 5th July 2014. “Perhaps, we can reconsider our approach at solving the cancer of Philippine society which is graft and corruption by talking more about the beauty of integrity and honesty rather constantly denouncing the evil that we experience," he said.

“. . . The Church should follow the example of Pope Francis, who he said has shaken the old belief systems about spiritual shepherding . . . The Pope has so far ‘slowly moved the Church from being a dogmatic, self-engrossed and authoritative sick institution to being a gentle, outreaching, compassionate and persuasive Church through the power of love and mercy . . . Besides . . . the Church loses perspective when it loses its humility, and this makes the Church reactive. When we lose humility, we lose perspective. When we lose perspective, we also become too reactive. When we become too reactive, we become less effective and less credible as pastors. The loss of humility in Church ministry can be very costly.”

Was that what Rizal said over a century ago – because Juan de la Cruz has taken his religion to mean subservience? Does the church need to do more to undo over a century of blind obedience? For example, have we unwittingly created a very soft culture that breeds tyranny? If we equate the West as being the opposite, the following ought to give us pose – even in America leaders must go out of their way to fight blind obedience:  I’ve seen the best of management and the absolute worst of management.” [Kevin Tracey, on Putting It Together (After Taking It Apart), Adam Bryant, Corner Office, The New York Times, 5th July 2014; Tracey is the president and CEO of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research of the North Shore-LIJ Health System.]

“The worst is when the team fears the leader, so when someone sees something going wrong, they’re afraid to point it out. I’ve also seen the best. It’s about clearly stating the purpose and asking people how they’re doing and really listening if someone needs something different . . . If the operating team can accommodate the needs of that person without deviating from the plan, that person will be a better member of the team . . . How do [I] hire? My favorite question is, “What do you want to do?” If you don’t know what you want to do, you’re letting chance dictate your future. Then I look for patterns in their life that show they’ve conceived of a plan in the past and accomplished it.” 

Sadly, in the Philippines, despite our being well-informed and contemporaneous in our knowledge of business and management, our leadership model is still reflective of our culture? And it mirrors that of our hierarchical church? And so transparency is not foremost in our value system; and, not surprisingly, political patronage, oligarchy and corruption continue to haunt us? And I am always reminded of our reality every time our extended family (here in the US) has a reunion. As I would explain it to my wife, I am convinced the Pinoy way of life indeed is not easy even to tweak. And I would point her to the way my son-in-law (who is American) interacts with his father. In our culture, it would be taken as disrespect – because my son-in-law would express his views as though he was talking to a friend and it didn’t matter if his father was in agreement. If we think that is unique to America, I also see it even in Eastern Europe, kids “arguing with their parents – even their grandparents.”

Should individual rights not be encumbered in a democratic environment – whether family or church? And did Rizal think so as he observed the Age of Enlightenment while in Europe . . . and thus the need for him to create Padre Damaso?

Does the church need to refocus – and why Francis and now the CBCP seek a different approach? A nation must focus on nation-building or the common good, for example, and that can’t be adverse to the church? If indeed we value life, should we value the rights of every person, including the right to speak their minds? [Valuing life does not begin and end with RH?] Especially given that person is made in the image and likeness of The Creator? The bottom line: subservience was meant for another time? Do we as a nation need to do more?

And among us mortals in the secular world, do we as a nation need to focus on nation building? “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God which are God’s.” “There are people who have lost their focus, not because they have not put on their glasses, but because they do not know how important focus is. This is a weakness that must be addressed. Here is the key:  Focus is not a skill; it is a decision.” [Focus is intentional, Francis J. Kong, Business Matters (Beyond the bottom line), The Philippine Star, 6th July 2014]

“Focus is intentional, it is not accidental. Not focusing meant that the person is embarking on a perpetual sense of useless energy. You need to decide to focus. Life is not a digital game you play on your tablet, that every time you feel bored, you swipe it away. Focus is discipline in action. Be like the champion archers, they do not aim at the bull’s eye, they aim and focus at the center of the bull’s eye. Every successful business person I have met is skilled in the art of focusing.”

“While our graduate education programs are needed to produce good teachers and good managers, it is critical to analyze how the country’s graduate education system can best serve the needs of the country to meet its development goals.” [PHL graduate programs should address country’s development needs–study, Cai U. OrdinarioBusiness Mirror, 6th Jul 2014]

And the West has recognized similar needs as well: to focus the education system on producing graduates that can communicate, work in teams and be creative. In the private sector to communicate means more than reciting in class or writing a paper. It means, for instance, getting the rest of the team to buy into an idea. And it is not just any idea, but creative ideas – and they come from the diversity of the members of the team where there is no pulling rank. And creative ideas are not art for art’s sake. There ought to be a context – to reinforce the enterprise’s role as a contributing member of society, meaning, it is sustainable and not a flash in the pan, and for the common good.

Of course, if the church could be a “sick institution” (see above re CBCP), all the more private enterprise? And that is precisely why development means to be egalitarian not hierarchical – where transparency rules, not tyranny? Beyond the fight against the pork barrel, should the bishops in fact address political patronage and oligarchy, the two sides of the same coin that we’ve nurtured, i.e., a cacique culture? But has the church given it a wink a nod? And is it the cancer that Rizal saw over a hundred years ago?

The Jews learned very early on that 300 tenets were not the context but the Great Commandment? What is the context for us Pinoys? If it is deference to hierarchy then we shall be regional laggards, not just now . . . but even beyond – precisely why Rizal had to dramatize his argument via Padre Damaso?

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