Tuesday, July 19, 2016

“Healthy self-critical thinking”

“Our shadow is often subconscious, hidden even from our own awareness. It takes effort and life-long practice to look for, find, and embrace what we dismiss and what we disdain.” [Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation, 15th Jul 2016]

“For many of us lifelong Republicans, the convention in Cleveland will be a time of serious self-reflection, a difficult and honest reckoning. Those of us who have chosen not to attend the convention will have a bit more time on our hands to think it over. How on earth did our party produce Mr. Trump as its nominee?

“In every important respect, Donald Trump is a repudiation of Lincoln. Win or lose, on the morning after Election Day, Republicans will have to choose whose vision of the party they want to follow.” [Can We Find Our Way Back to Lincoln (?), Peter Wehner, The New York Times, 16th Jul 2016; Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, served in the last three Republican administrations and is a contributing opinion writer.]

And from across the pond. “The Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war finally published after seven years on Wednesday. The 2.6 million word document is the culmination of a huge investigation that was launched by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009 into the United Kingdom's involvement in the war in Iraq.

“The report, which is estimated to have cost over £10 million of taxpayers' money, has been chaired by former senior civil servant Sir John Chilcot. The report concludes that Blair ‘overestimated’ his ability to influence the US and his the decision to go to war was based on ‘flawed intelligence.’

“Chilcot says the UK's concerns about weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists pre-dated the 9/11 attacks.” [CHILCOT: 9/11 'fundamentally changed' the approach to Iraq, Oscar Williams-Grut, Business Insider, 6th Jul 2016]

And the subject won’t go away. “Jean Edward Smith’s biography of George W. Bush goes on sale a day before the former President’s seventieth birthday, and it’s safe to say that no one will be bringing it as a present to the ranch outside Crawford. Smith, a well-regarded practitioner of military history and Presidential-life writing, comes straight to the point in the first sentence of his preface: ‘Rarely in the history of the United States has the nation been so ill-served as during the presidency of George W. Bush.’

“Smith points out that Bush attended no meetings of the National Security Council in the seven months prior to September 11, 2001. In her reports on these gatherings, Condoleezza Rice—Bush’s national-security adviser, workout partner, and something of an alter ego—tended to synthesize disagreements among the participants, leaving Bush with a false feeling of consensus. The President’s own focus was chiefly on matters like stem-cell-research regulation and the sort of educational reforms he had pushed through a Democratic legislature as governor of Texas.” [How Bad Can a President Be (?), Thomas Mallon, The New Yorker, 4th Jul 2016]

“The former president gave a short eloquent speech in Dallas at the memorial service for five police officers murdered by a sniper. In a slap at Donald Trump, a man loathed by the Bush family, W. said: ‘We do not want the unity of grief nor do we want the unity of fear. We want the unity of hope, affection and high purpose.’

“He is right that the world has had too much of the unity of grief, plunged into the random lightning strikes of mass shootings and terrorist attacks. W. talked in Dallas about ‘finding our better selves.’ If only he had found his in office. Instead, his ghosts are never far away. He must watch as riptides from his mistakes continue to rip up the globe.

“A new biography, ‘Bush,’ by Jean Edward Smith, makes the same points that Trump made when he shook up the Republican orthodoxy and tripped up Jeb — that W. ignored warnings before 9/11 and overreacted after.

‘To argue that by taking the actions that he did, the president kept America safe is meretricious,’ Smith writes, adding: ‘The fact is, the threat of terrorism that confronts the United States is in many respects a direct result of Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003.’

“In 2002, Blair affirmed his lap-dog bona fidos by sending W. a note saying ‘I will be with you, whatever.’ The British public deemed Blair a pariah long ago. But it took the British government seven years to conclude that Blair enabled W. to start a war on dodgy intelligence with inadequate planning to control the killing fields of a post-Saddam landscape, a landscape that eventually spawned ISIS.

“W. comes across as a naïve, willful, spangly cartoon cowboy. Sometimes, when at last you get a peek behind the curtain, your worst fears come true.” [W., Borne Back Ceaselessly, Maureen Dowd, The New York Times, 16th Jul 2016]

That’s a mouthful coming from the West. What about back home? Why can’t we move forward as a nation?
“THE Philippines, which claims to be the first democratic government in Asia, is actually ruled by oligarchs.' The oligarchs still rule the country, and Filipinos will forever be the victims of their profiteering,' says political science professor Benito Lim of the Ateneo de Manila University.

“Lim says the oligarchs can be controlled but it will require strong political will. Asked if President Benigno S Aquino III, who continues to enjoy high popularity and trust ratings, can do it, Lim responds: 'Mukhang hindi siya pinakikinggan. Maliit ang boses. [It seems nobody listens to him. Weak.]'

“Members of the oligarchy in the Philippines have 'little corners' of their own and hardly get out of their own spheres of industries, apparently realizing that if they resort to competition, one of them will fall.

“Political analyst Alex Magno says oligarchy is a term in political science which applies to a government controlled by a group. Loosely used, oligarchy can apply to the dominance of the national economy by a few individuals or a group.

“Oligarchy breeds political dynasties. Philippine Star columnist Carmen N Pedrosa believes that oligarchy has become a culture in the Philippines. 'Our culture is so deeply imbibed with the ambition for wealth and power. So when we blame oligarchs for the sorry state of our country, we must also look into ourselves and say yeh, but we also want to be oligarchs or be friends with an oligarch because that is the system.'

‘The trouble is that all this is done under cover of democracy,' Pedrosa said. 'We delude ourselves that we are democratic and we have elections to prove that. There will be few who will accept that if we were to think it through, elections merely vote in or vote out leaders from the same small pool of oligarchs or would-be oligarchs. We need to break out of this vicious oligarchic circle,' she stressed.

“Oligarchs won't allow charter change. Senator Manny Villar says oligarchy is the reason why attempts to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution have failed - three presidents (Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) tried to amend the Constitution in the past 15 years, to no avail.

“‘The media, from what I've seen, is also controlled by groups that do not want to change the Constitution,' the former Senate president adds. 'And that is why any proposal [to amend the Constitution] will be killed right away.'

“The statement of Ateneo's Benito Lim is grim: ‘There is harmony among the oligarchs. Filipinos will continue to be at the mercy of the oligarchs.’” [Filipinos to remain at the mercy of oligarchs, Nick Legaspi, Third World Resurgence No. 251/252, July/August 2011, pp 3-5]

What to do? At the end of every posting, the blog replays this quote: “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]

In other words, like we always defer to our faith as Filipinos, indeed development is not a purely secular exercise.

And so back to Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation: “Only an in-depth spirituality can fully accept the paradox of our flawed humanity . . . Our shadow is often subconscious, hidden even from our own awareness. It takes effort and life-long practice to look for, find, and embrace what we dismiss and what we disdain.

“Our problem is not usually our shadow self nearly as much as our over-defended ego, which always sees, hates, and attacks its own faults in other people, and thus avoids its own conversion . . . Liminality keeps one in an ongoing state of shadowboxing instead of ego-confirmation; it can keep us struggling with the dark side of things, calling the center and so-called normalcy into creative question.

“The movement to full wisdom has much to do with necessary shadow work and the emergence of healthy self-critical thinking, which alone allows you to see beyond your own shadow and disguise and to find who you are . . . There are many ways to do shadow work--the work of seeing and integrating your hidden and denied self. One of the easiest ways to discover your shadow is to observe your negative reactions to others and what pushes your buttons. Most often, what annoys you in someone else is a trait in yourself that you haven't acknowledged.”

“Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And that they will be such is not to be doubted, for he who submits to tyranny loves it.” [We are ruled by Rizal’s ‘tyrants of tomorrow,’ Editorial, The Manila Times, 29th Dec 2015]

“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]

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