Monday, March 20, 2017

A sense of identity and purpose

Is that part of our make up? Let’s test it with the recent “31st EDSA Revolution Anniversary: ‘The theme for this year's celebration is, ‘A Day of Reflection,’ and that's precisely the reason why there's no pomp in this year's anniversary celebration,’ Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said at a press briefing.

“He said people might be making comparisons between the EDSA celebrations of the Aquino and Duterte administrations. Guevarra said the government will allow protest activities as long as these follow rules. ‘This is exactly the freedom that EDSA, the EDSA Revolution wanted us to have, all right: freedom to express yourselves, freedom to rally, freedom to gather together and express your sentiments,’ he said.

“Joey Concepcion, vice chairperson of the EDSA People Power Commission, said they decided to hold a simple anniversary event on Friday instead of Saturday, February 25. Concepcion said Ramos will attend the event. But there’s no word yet about President Duterte’s attendance. Guevarra said Aquino was also sent an invite last week, but he has not yet confirmed his attendance.” [Duterte admin to hold simple People Power anniversary celebration, Karmela Tordecilla, CNN Philippines, 21st Feb 2017]

What’s the celebration about? Do we still identify with People Power? What were we supposed to have achieved with this historic event that put us on the world map? In other words, what is PH about? Can we look beyond our hometown and province or region – or our favorite political patrons or oligarchy – and identify with PH?

“PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday pushed federalism anew, noting that the current system has not been beneficial for the country and the Filipino people. Duterte said that federalism was the centerpiece of his campaign and it is up to Filipinos if they will accept it or not. 

“‘A successful federalism would provide a strong president but with a parliament working independently. That will be good, it will dissipate the authority of the few holding power,’ Duterte said.” [Federal system is the best- Duterte, Jeff Antiporda, The Manila Times, 12th Mar 2017]

Are we looking at the system of government . . . but not at what and who we are? Parochial and insular; hierarchical and paternalistic; political patronage and dynasties; and oligarchic; and at the end of day, a culture of impunity?

Consider what the German Ambassador said about Federalism. “Federalism in Germany is deeply rooted historically and one of the key principles of the German Basic Law, next to and interwoven with the principles of democracy, social welfare and rule of law. In order to work, cooperation and solidarity must be carefully balanced with autonomy and democratic principles must be followed at every level.

“In order for federalism to fulfil this function of democratic control, it is crucial that democratic principles are implemented at every level. Independent institutions, an active civil society, free and critical media, the fair competition of political parties and the rule of law everywhere from the local to the national level are the indispensable pillars of a federal democratic state. Despite the variety between the states and the autonomy of each state, solidarity and cooperation among the Länder and between the Länder and the federal government is key to the functioning of German federalism.” [Close ties and the experience of federalism, Gordon Kricke, DIPLOMATIC POUCH, The Philippine Star, 16th Mar 2017]

Let’s get back to the sense of identity and purpose. “The need for purpose is one of the defining characteristics of human beings. Human beings crave purpose, and suffer serious psychological difficulties when we don’t have it. Purpose is a fundamental component of a fulfilling life.

“Why does Purpose have such a positive effect? I would suggest a number of different reasons why purpose is good for our psychologicalhealth. Firstly, it makes us less vulnerable to what I call ‘psychological discord’. This is the fundamental sense of unease we often experience whenever our attention isn’t occupied by external things, and which can manifest itself in boredom, anxiety and depression. By focusing our attention externally, and giving us a constant source of activity to channel our mental energies into, purpose means that we spend less immersed in the associational chatter of our minds – the chatter which often triggers negative thoughts and feelings. Another important factor here is that aligning ourselves to a purpose often makes us less self-centered. We feel a part of something bigger, something outside ourselves, and this makes us less focused on our own worries and anxieties. Our own problems seem less significant, and we spend less time thinking about them, and so our sense of well-being increases. 

“Purpose can also enhance our self-esteem. So long as we feel that we are successfully dealing with challenges and moving closer to our goal, our self-confidence increases. We feel a sense of competence and achievement, an enhanced ability to deal with difficulties and challenges.

“Finally, purpose is closely related to hope. Working towards a goal implies that we feel that the goal is attainable, and that our lives will change for the better once we have reached it. It implies hope – depending on our type of purpose, hope for a better life for ourselves, a fairer and more just society, liberation from suffering and oppression for others, a healthier world, and so forth. And as with purpose itself, a great deal of research has shown the positive effect of hope on well-being.

“Purpose and Evolution. Human beings are naturally dynamic. Growth is an intrinsic part of our nature. Life on earth has always been dynamic, as expressed through the process of evolution. Life has always had innate tendency to grow towards greater complexity, to become more organized, and more conscious.

“So when we feel a sense of purpose – and this is particularly the case at higher levels of purpose – we’re manifesting the creative urge of evolution, becoming its expression, which is possibly why it feels so right when we do it.” [The Power of Purpose, Steve Taylor Ph.D., Psychology Today, 21st Jul 2013]

Where is Juan de la Cruz in all this? With due respect to President Duterte, there is more to Federalism than meets the eye. More to the point, it is not the system of government that will drive our sense of identity and purpose.

And with due respect to our leaders over the last several decades, the world knows about our neighbors, the Four Asian tigers – South Korean, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore. And no one points to system of government as the common denominator nor success factor. “They consistently maintained high levels of economic growth since the 1960s fueled by exports and rapid industrialization which enabled these economies to join the ranks of the world's richest nations; they share common characteristics that include a focus on exports, an educated populace and high savings rates; and are resilient enough to withstand local crises, such as the Asian financial crisis of 1997, as well as global shocks, including the credit crunch of 2008.” []

And the Four Asian Tigers surely measure up to the object of the Oxford University online course, “From Poverty to Prosperity: Understanding Economic Development.”

Here is a summary of the course syllabus: “From Anarchy to a centralized State; From centralized to Inclusive States; Economic Development needs an alignment between power and identities (e.g., the average Brit identifies with the UK yet there is the supranational union, a.k.a. the EU, to whom member states transferred some of their powers); Economic development needs polities that are centralized and inclusive; Growth through urbanization and industrialization; Economic development depends upon exploiting scale and specialization; External Influences matter for good or ill, e.g., Trade flows, Capital flows, Labor flows, and International Governance Rules.”

In other words, the journey from poverty to prosperity is a process, it is not parochial and insular, it is centralized and inclusive where power and identities are aligned, it is about urbanization and industrialization, it is exploiting economies of scale and specialization and it demands the ability to deal with external influences.

Is our island mentality getting in the way of prosperity? Is Mr. Cusi on to something? Like taking a step in the right direction? “Cusi wants more investments in merchant power plants,” Danessa Rivera, The Philippine Star, 13th Mar 2017. “Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi is seeking more investments in merchant power plants to further spur competition in the electricity spot market.

“Currently, 90 percent of the country’s power supply is sourced from bilateral contracts between power generators and distribution utilities. This means only 10 percent of the supply comes from the WESM. The DOE will undertake a study to raise WESM sourcing to 20-30 percent, Cusi said.”

With due respect to Mr. Cusi, who will do what, when, where and how?

“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]

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” [William Pollard, 1911-1989, physicist-priest, Manhattan Project]

“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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