Monday, December 7, 2015

Juan de la Cruz: from sheltered to grown up

Experience would tell us that people go through transformation – and don’t grow like trees. Consider: Our challenge then as now is to “transition to a new stage of consciousness and transform [our] society beyond family bands . . . to [a true] nation state; and for the economy to evolve beyond foraging and horticulture and agriculture to industrialization; and change our power structure and the role of religion” [Reinventing organizations, Frederic Laloux, Nelson Parker, 2014; p. 14] – and move it away from ideology and fundamentalism. (The latter being a continuing declaration from Pope Francis?)

Economic development presupposes a higher level of consciousness; and it comes from advances in human development. Think North Korea if you will. 

Where human development lags, a society will reflect its archaic character, for example, hierarchical and nurturing political patronage and oligarchy. 

“[T]o . . . [understand] . . . the human condition necessarily [requires] a truthful, ‘clear conscience’-guided, instinctual approach, not a resigned-to-living-in-denial-of-the-human-condition, alienated-from-the-truth, blocking-out-of-condemning-moral-instincts, hiding-in-Plato’s-cave, ‘intellectual’ approach. It is simply not possible to build the truth from a position of denial/​lying. You can’t think effectively, insightfully . . . if you’re not being honest.” [Freedom: The end of the human condition, Jeremy Griffith,, 2015, p. 239]

“We can no longer afford these past failures and present-day delusions that: democracy without civic responsibility can insure development; while maintaining the unjust structures that have kept our economy stagnant, we can progress sustainably; prosperity automatically trickles down from the rich few to the impoverished many. Expectedly, we may fail again – if we content ourselves at this time with flawed policies, greedy officials, self-serving dynasties and widespread corruption.” [Nation-building: Remembering Andres Bonifacio,Former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos, Manila Bulletin, 28th Nov 2015]

“In fact, it is a measure of the blindness of human-condition-avoiding, denial-based thinking, and the effectiveness of human-condition-confronting, honest thinking, that when the whole truth about our condition is finally reached, as it now has been, it can appear so straightforward and simple that it seems self-evident. But simplicity has always been a hallmark of insightful thought—as the pioneering biologist Allan Savory observed, ‘whenever there has been a major insoluble problem for mankind, the answer, when finally found, has always been very simple.’

“For instance, when Charles Darwin put forward his breakthrough, and necessarily exceptionally ‘fearless’ and truthful-thinking-based insight of natural selection, it was, in hindsight, such a simple explanation that the eminent biologist of the time, the aforementioned Thomas Huxley, was prompted to exclaim, ‘How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!’” [Griffith, op. cit.] 

What an irony. What seems self-evident becomes elusive because of denial, if not blindness? How many times the writer himself experienced “looking with his mouth, not his eyes” – to the glee of the spouse!

Beyond denial or blindness is the need to safeguard self-esteem. “In claiming the status of victim and by assigning all blame to others, a person can achieve moral superiority while simultaneously disowning any responsibility for one's behavior and its outcome. The victims ‘merely’ seek justice and fairness . . . The victim stance is a powerful one. The victim is always morally right, neither responsible nor accountable, and forever entitled to sympathy.” [Ofer Zur, PhD, The psychology of victimhood,]

Consider: “APEC has contributed to global inequality,” Satur C. Ocampo, AT GROUND LEVEL, The Philippine Star, 21st Nov 2015. “Zeroing in on APEC’s impact on the Philippines, Ibon points out that despite the growth in trade and foreign investments, the results are depressing.”

But then again, “US agri giant Cargill grows presence in Vietnam,” Boy P, Happy Hour, The Standard, 19th Nov 2015. “Vietnam, which a little over a decade ago was lagging behind the Philippines, is attracting a lot of investors for various sectors, among them the electronics industry with news that it attracted $10 billion in foreign direct investment inflows from such giants as Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Foxconn. Double digits—impressive, don’t you think so?

“According to reports, Vietnam showed the fastest growth rate last year in terms of export revenues and foreign market share compared to other Asean countries—yes, the Philippines included—making it the 3rd biggest electronics exporter in the region and the 12th in the world.”

“In an interview with PBS host Charlie Rose, Petraeus warned against putting American troops on the ground in the war-torn country, saying the country ‘may be a Humpty Dumpty that can't be put back together again … One doesn't know what the various outcomes could be.’” [Petraeus Warns: No U.S. Ground Troops in Syria, Rob Garver, The Fiscal Times,, 24th Nov 2015]

And the Petraeus quote would be a good illustration of absorptive capacity. Ergo: is the Philippines a Humpty Dumpty such that outsiders are not keen to bet on us? Because one doesn’t know what the various outcomes could be?

“Despite several government moves to hasten infrastructure development over the last five years, [ECCP president Guenter] Taus said Philippine infrastructure continues to lag behind globally. Citing the outcome of the recent World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index, Taus said the country’s ranking in terms of infrastructure has remained poor, with the report noting in particular the below par airport and seaport infrastructure.

“‘The current state of infrastructure of the country is actually dragging down the competitiveness of the Philippines. There is plenty of room for improvement and a multitude of innovative solutions available to make positive changes happen,’ he said.” [Infra still weakest link to Philippine competitiveness – ECCP, Richmond S. Mercurio, The Philippine Star, 25th Nov 2015]

And so we rationalize our underdevelopment. It's been caused by others . . . starting from our colonizers . . . to MNCs . . .  to globalization . . . etc., etc. Conveniently forgetting that our neighbors, once poor, became the admired Asian Tigers – for adapting to the new order consistent with Darwin and generating not only humongous wealth but as importantly contributing largely to the drastic reduction of poverty in the world?

Should we invoke victimhood that feeds on ‘learned helplessness’ and puts us in a race to the bottom? And how do we move beyond the levels of law and criticism and conflict to the level of wisdom? Yes, working on the Sabbath is allowed! And how do we square our reality against the imperatives of visionary and strategic leadership and wisdom and Darwin-consciousness while overcoming victimhood and learned helplessness?

In other words, how does Juan de la Cruz discover transformation – the road to nation-building? We know it goes beyond education per se or being the only Christian country in the region (albeit at war with its own Muslim brothers and sisters) or the power inherent in political dynasties and oligarchies?

And that is what we must bring to APEC if we are to be competitive. Consider: We take hierarchy and economic classes as givens. Not surprisingly our marketers think of the D and E markets and products for poor Pinoys – which we euphemistically call compassion. But that puts us in a race to the bottom. Would man have progressed much beyond living in caves if eons ago he saw that worldview as positive? Enter Maslow who says the hierarchy of human needs is in fact a continuum. Needs aren’t stuck at the basic level.

And in product development basic products don’t yield the multiplier effect – that creates auxiliary industries and a positive employment environment – to the scale superior products do: from investment to technology to innovation to people and product and supply chain and market development.

Nor do needs stop even at a perceived higher level given the nature of a continuum. Yesterday was the Jumbo Jet, today it's the Dreamliner; tomorrow it will be something else. The story of Nokia is instructive. They had 40% of the global market but focused on the low-end effectively ceding the development of the smartphone. While we ceded innovation to the rest of the world basking as service providers and/or contract manufacturers – true to our sheltered nature? We won’t outgrow that; we need transformation instead!

Social mobility even when merely apparent can be a manifestation of human development. That in grade school we read about a model “bahay kubo” that is spic-and-span with family members all pitching in to make it so. The writer shared the lesson with his then new found friends in Eastern Europe to help in their transformation – to imagine a state beyond being “poor Bulgarians” . . . and equal to MNCs.

They had to toss the narrow (economic class) parameters in their product development exercises and instead crafted an ascending value chain model to mirror Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. That opened their eyes – to curiosity, inquisitiveness, discovery and innovation. And confirmed that development is multifaceted and lateral, not linear.

For a country characterized by delayed justice – and where a culture of impunity reigns – we indeed have ways to go to advance in human development! Especially when we put a premium on hierarchy – where rank has its privileges, including self-serving dynasties as President Ramos calls them.

Do we need the Philippine church to follow the example of Francis – and upend rank, and preach an egalitarian ethos? Pulling rank is the fastest and surest way to stunt transformation if we want to figure it out!

If we are to be on equal footing with our neighbors – and drastically reduce poverty – Juan de la Cruz must transform himself! And it goes well beyond the Aquino presidency. His administration could descend with the pitfalls inherent in KKK – “kaklase, kaibigan, kabarilan” – but we must then critically examine who the next president could be! Is there a candidate to lead Juan de la Cruz to the road he badly needs – to transition to a new stage of consciousness? In a democracy we get the leadership and the government that we deserve!

“As a major component for the education and reorientation of our people, mainstream media – their reporters, writers, photographers, columnists and editors – have an obligation to this country . . .” [Era of documented irrelevance: Mainstream media, critics and protesters, Homobono A. Adaza, The Manila Times, 25th Nov 2015]

“Development [is informed by a people’s] worldview, cognitive capacity, values, moral development, self-identity, spirituality, and leadership . . .” [Frederic Laloux, Reinventing organizations, Nelson Parker, 2014]

No comments:

Post a Comment