Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Moral progress – becoming one community, one nation

Let’s start with “crab mentality” and its genesis, parochialism and insularity. And consider: “Few things are as fundamental to human progress as our ability to arrive at a shared understanding of the world. The advancement of science depends on this, as does the accumulation of cultural knowledge in general. Every collaboration . . . requires that the beliefs of those involved remain open to mutual influence through conversation.” [Neural correlates of maintaining one’s political beliefs in the face of counterevidence; Jonas T. Kaplan, Sarah I. Gimbel, Sam Harris; Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 39589 (2016),]

That’s the secular world speaking. So let’s hear from a religious.

“Making Christianity Relevant Again,” Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation, Center for Action and Contemplation,, 1st Jan 2017. “Our religion is not working well. Another year has ended—a new year begins—in which suffering, fear, violence, injustice, greed, and meaninglessness still abound. This is not even close to the reign of God that Jesus taught. And we must be frank: in their behavior and impact upon the world, Christians are not much different than other people.

“The majority of Christians are not highly transformed people, but tend to reflect their own culture more than they operate as any kind of leaven within it. I speak especially of American Christians, because I am one.

“Let’s be honest: religion has probably never had such a bad name. Christianity is now seen as ‘irrelevant’ by many and often as part of the problem more than any kind of solution . . . Young people especially are turned off by how judgmental, exclusionary, impractical, and ineffective Christian culture seems to be. The church seems hostile toward most science (the objective outer world) and thus unable to talk about its inner dimensions with any authority. As we saw in the recent U.S. election, Christians overall showed little prophetic or compassionate presence.”

How judgmental, exclusionary, impractical and ineffective is Christian culture? “Why Rural America Voted for Trump,” Robert Leonard, The New York Times, 5th Jan 2017. “Political analysts have talked about how ignorance, racism, sexism, nationalism, Islamophobia, economic disenfranchisement and the decline of the middle class contributed to the popularity of Mr. Trump in rural America. But this misses the deeper cultural factors that shape the thinking of the conservatives who live here.

“For me, it took a 2015 pre-caucus stop in Pella by J. C. Watts, a Baptist minister raised in the small town of Eufaula, Okla., who was a Republican congressman from 1995 to 2003, to begin to understand my neighbors — and most likely other rural Americans as well.

‘The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans believe people are fundamentally bad, while Democrats see people as fundamentally good,’ said Mr. Watts, who was in the area to campaign for Senator Rand Paul. ‘We are born bad,’ he said and added that children did not need to be taught to behave badly — they are born knowing how to do that.

‘We teach them how to be good,’ he said. ‘We become good by being reborn — born again.’

“Ted Cruz campaigned in a neighboring town in 2015 . . . His campaign speech was nearly a sermon, and the children listened wide-eyed when he told them the world is a scary place, and it’s godly men like him who are going to save them from the evils of President Obama, Hillary Clinton and their fellow Democrats.”

And what about Juan de la Cruz?

Do we struggle to be one community, embrace a vision for the nation and develop a “hardy” mindset in pursuit of a better future for Juan de la Cruz? Because they take more than our professed optimism and/or happiness?

Perform, reform, transform for the New Year,” Fidel V. Ramos, Former Philippine President, Manila Bulletin, 31st Dec 2016. “The mere mention by P. Du30 of the possibility of martial law last Christmas Eve before an audience of Nanay (mother) volunteers in Pampanga sent frightening shivers among hundreds of their “kabalens” (province mates) but also, real fear among many mothers throughout the whole country.

“This past week, FVR felt this emerging sense of unhappiness about a future return to Marcos-style dictatorial governance because of the many queries to him by all kinds of people . . . about P. Digong’s hints of ML, and his desire to remove the safeguards thereto in the 1987 Constitution.”

Are we finally heeding Rizal – he who submits to tyranny loves it?

“Most Christians have not been taught how to plug into the ‘mind of Christ;’ thus they often reflect the common mind of power, greed, and war instead. The dualistic mind reads reality in simple binaries—good and bad, right and wrong—and thinks itself smart because it chooses one side.

“Throughout the history of Christianity, it would seem Jesus’ teaching has had little impact, except among people who surrendered to great love and great suffering. Could this be the real core of the Gospel? Such people experience God rather than merely having disconnected ideas about God. We need the mind of mystics now to offer any kind of alternative—contemplative or nondual—consciousness. We need practice-based religion that teaches us how to connect with the Infinite in ways that actually change us from our finite perspectives.

“We must rediscover what St. Francis called the ‘marrow of the Gospel.’ It’s time to rebuild from the bottom up. If the foundation is not solid and sure, everything we try to build on top of it is weak and ineffective. Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise that so much is tumbling down around us.

“In the year 1205, Jesus spoke to Francis through the San Damiano cross: ‘Francis, rebuild my church, for you see it is falling into ruin.’ If Jesus himself says the church is falling into ruin, I guess we can admit it also without being accused of being negative or unbelieving.” [Rohr, op. cit.]

“At the beginning of the New Year 2017, we do hope that our leaders – instead of bringing back the dark memories of authoritarianism – should deal more with the brighter future of the Filipino people could enjoy under the P. Du30 administration. For instance, what about his 10-point economic program in terms of action taken in his first six months?

“Performing structural changes. It is unfortunate that most Filipinos easily forget certain valuable lessons from our history of hardship, struggle and sacrifice. We tend to squander our goodwill and solidarity in threatening – in quarreling and pulling each other down, even during good times.

“Our leaders, most especially, must PERFORM to achieve structural changes, and concurrently strive to consolidate the Philippine national team. Reflecting on the booms-and-busts, and the highs-and-lows in our collective national performance, our people seem to have repeatedly faltered. After gleaming triumphs, we tend to fall short again and again.

“If we content ourselves with flawed policies, incompetent bureaucrats and self-serving dynasties at this time of new opportunity, expectedly we may fail again.

“Our leaders must also be able to mobilize our people so that they perform according to the call of duty, to responsible citizenship, and to teamwork in nation-building.

“While leaders and concerned citizens are aware of the need to implement critical reforms, it is apparent that there is still considerable foot-dragging and complacency. Many important issues are not being properly addressed – if at all . . .

“Reform depends on government and civil society.” [Ramos, op. cit.]

What about civil society? Consider: Over the year-end holidays the writer’s family had old friends and neighbors visiting, and Metro Manila traffic won’t escape the conversation. “The farthest you want to venture out is the West Gate. Commerce Avenue is a virtual wall that you are trapped inside the village. You don’t want to do errands at ATC, there is nowhere to park. Whatever little space was once allotted for parking continues to shrink. You raised the cramped basement parking in Serendra, that is infinitely better. You realize SM malls are upgrading with Aura, and even the Mega Mall is no longer the Mega Mall that you know. And Festival Mall has a new wing that is upscale. Ayala was once the epitome of quality of life, and Ayala Alabang was perfect being in the suburbs and less polluted. Dream on.”

Says President Ramos, “Reform depends on government and civil society. What say you? How do we preempt a perfect storm that keeps battering Juan de la Cruz? Not if this is the way we define PHL: Parochial. Insular. Hierarchical. Paternalistic. Political patronage and dynasties. Oligarchic. Culture of impunity.

Do the dots connect – and explain why we’re unable to become one community and one nation?

“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]

“National prosperity is created, not inherited. It does not grow out of a country’s natural endowments, its labor pool, its interest rates, or its currency’s value, as classical economics insists . . . A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade.” [The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business Review, March–April 1990]

“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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