Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Stunted development

It is not about the foreign press or media. It is about our human development quotient or HDQ. And as it were, we have for decades been paying a heavy price for our stunted development. What we now call a state of lawlessness is not new. It is an extension of our culture of impunity, in case we have forgotten.

We’re stuck with “Pinoy abilidad” as our ideal, confident that it equates to creativity. Forgetting that benchmarking (aka as looking outward not inward) can open our eyes to where relevant best practices reside. And why we can’t overcome “crab mentality”? But let’s put “Pinoy abilidad” to a test. In a Yale University course on the study of geniuses, Steve Jobs joined the likes of Einstein and Beethoven. And he defined creativity as simply connecting the dots.

When underdevelopment persists there is poverty and when poverty persists there is lawlessness. But where does our underdevelopment come from? For example, we have a one-legged stool for an economy, i.e., services. A three-legged economy would have services, agriculture and industry. But that presupposes a platform – i.e., the building blocks of energy or power, infrastructure and industry.

And to get there we need investment and technology . . . which we have kept out. Why? Let’s keep on connecting the dots: parochial = insular = hierarchical = paternalistic = patronage = oligarchy = impunity = underdevelopment.

We think moralizing or the rule of law is irrelevant? Retrace the dots and the rule of law and the moral high ground are missing! Because community and the common is alien to us?

The bottom line: Connecting the dots will explain why our HDQ is mediocre. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me? Underdevelopment has robbed us of the confidence to make an objective self-assessment? We can’t say one Marcos is one too many? Because we are uncertain of our own maturity, an imperative in the exercise of freedom and democracy?  We have yet to internalize that freedom is not free – it demands personal responsibility?

And so we can’t embrace “To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.” “Recently, one of the most influential writers of our time spoke at Cabrini . . . Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate, used his powerful past to inspire future generations.

We Pinoys may not relate to the Holocaust but there are those that lived through martial law. Those who didn’t can do their homework? But that’s neither here nor there given our stunted development? We may not be indulging in ethnic cleansing yet we can’t be proud of our culture of impunity – aka a state of lawlessness.

“Macoy should be kept where he is cherished, not where he can be spat and pooh-poohed on . . . No need though for an epitaph saying HERE A LAWYER LIES STILL or HERE A LAWYER STILL STEALS.

“The time has not yet come. The Marcoses still have to acknowledge the gross human rights violations . . . that occurred in their time, say sorry, and just maybe put up a fund for the treatment and burial of aging ailing victims and scholarships for deserving apos . . . Then, the healing may begin. Meantime, patience, while 75,000 human rights compensation claims are being processed.

“Raissa Robles had a 2012 story on how BB ‘had a direct hand in trying to withdraw US$213M from a Swiss bank in 1986.’ Ill-gotten wealth. BB has the Solid North. He dissembled about his nonexistent degrees from elite British and American universities.” [Leni’s slam-dunk, LMB and Plaza Miranda, Rene Saguisag, The Manila Times, 26th Aug 2016]

So let’s hear from President Duterte: “I have no plan of becoming a dictator. I am a lawyer. My mother is a Yellow Friday leader in Davao. They will say … he will do a Marcos. Far from it. I am just doing my duty . . .” [‘I won’t be another Ferdinand Marcos,’ Leila B. Salaverria, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1st Sept 2016]

Do we want to split hair and dissect what a hero is or what a dictator is? “Overall, we should never give up the moral high ground by going down to the level of criminals. Else, DECAY. And the Prez should take care also of the innocent widows and orphans of those killed extrajudicially. His vow is to do justice to every man.

“Finally, no need to make Obama listen to him, long a member of the elite, on human rights. Obama belongs to one of the most vilified and persecuted races in history, even today. Some of us Brownies even have the gall to look down on Egots.

“Digong has to abide criticism, even views he may despise. The country is a much bigger pond than Davao City” [Giving up the moral high ground, Rene Saguisag, The Manila Times, 2nd Sep 2016]

And the world is a bigger pond than PHL? But that’s neither here nor there given our stunted development? 

But let’s get back to Wiesel. “We like to say that we have learned from the Holocaust, but since then we have seen genocide, the devastating loss of lives on Sept. 11 and the wars in the Middle East. We humans are still constantly persecuting and killing others . . . ‘To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.’

“In society, faith and God are used as scapegoats. People blame God for the misfortunes in their lives. Wiesel, however, has a different take on things. ‘Only human beings can bring us to despair and only human beings can bring hope.’ Wiesel said. [In case we’ve forgotten, man is both human and divine.]

“We are responsible for our own lives and have a moral responsibility to the lives of others. We have to strengthen the voices of the weak and give power to the powerless.” [Amanda Finnegan, 29th Sept 2006,]

Another woman would share her take on Wiesel. “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” [Maria Popova,]

“In 1986, at the age of fifty-eight, Romanian-born Jewish-American writer and political activist Elie Wiesel (September 30, 1928–July 2, 2016) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel committee called him a ‘messenger to mankind.’ [A]s he took the stage at Norway’s Oslo City Hall . . . [he] delivered a spectacular speech on justice, oppression, and our individual responsibility in our shared freedom.

“Three decades later, Wiesel’s words ring with discomfiting timeliness as we are jolted out of our generational hubris, out of the illusion of progress, forced to confront the contemporary realities . . . and other injustice against the human experience. But alongside the reminder of how tragically we have failed . . . is also the promise of possibility . . . what soaring heights of the human spirit we are capable of reaching if we choose to . . .

“Above all, Wiesel issues an assurance that these choices are not grandiose and reserved for those in power but daily and deeply personal, found in the quality of intention with which we each live our lives.

“When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted . . . that place must — at that moment — become the center of the universe. [It is not about the foreign press or media.]

“Wiesel reminds us that even politically momentous dissent always begins with a personal act — with a single voice refusing to be silenced . . .

“There is so much injustice and suffering crying out for our attention . . . There is much to be done, there is much that can be done. One person, … one person of integrity, can make a difference, a difference of life and death . . .

“We know that every moment is a moment of grace, every hour an offering; not to share them would mean to betray them. Our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all those who need us desperately.”

But are we up to the challenge? Why do we deserve a Marcos – and then a Duterte? “Our biggest problems, bad governance and corruption, are problems about people, not (necessarily) of political structure or political consciousness, not (necessarily) political institutions. They are subjective, not objective, concerns. People will not wake up to a new constitution that will magically confer upon them the ability to govern themselves well or make them less corrupt.” [Federalism, for what (?), Florin T. Hilbay, inquirerdotnet, 8th Aug 2016]

“Every nation gets the kind of government it deserves.” [That’s from] “Joseph de Maistre, the brilliant . . . political thinker . . . From 1803 to 1817 de Maistre served as Sardinian envoy to the court of the Russian tsar Alexander I, and it's at that country that he aimed his aphorism.

“What was true about an absolute monarchy is even truer about a democracy, and truer still about the modern version of it. People cast their votes for parties that tell them something they want to hear. And what people want to hear is greatly affected by the kind of education imposed upon them by the same elite . . . There's a circle there, and it can only be vicious.

“Every nation gets the kind of government it deserves. Keep running inside that circle for a generation or two, and you get not democracy but spivocracy -- the rule of those only out to feather their own nests. If by chance they drop a few feathers into others' nests, then so be it. If not, that's fine too. They are highly specialized creatures, our politicians, designed to do one thing only: get reelected. Bono publico be damned; it's their own bono they pursue.” [Do we really deserve a better government (?), Alexander Boot, Daily Mail, 27th Jan 2016]

To expect paternalism and demand patronage is not a virtue; it is why we get the government that we deserve. Freedom is not free – it demands personal responsibility?

“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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