Wednesday, April 12, 2017

PH poverty: A self-fulfilling prophecy

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The intention to engage in good acts often fails. It points up the principle that there is no merit in good intentions unless they are acted on. The expression is often attributed to the Cistercian abbot Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 – 1153).” []

With that as premise, let’s fast-forward and get to the gist of a USA Today article (2nd Apr 2017) re an Indonesian mother’s pronouncement to her high school daughter: “We are an underdeveloped country. It is our job to develop it.”

Think about it against our war on poverty. And discriminate compassion and sympathy from paternalism and overprotection, for example, a.k.a. moral hazard. Because we don’t want development to loom as an imposing peak to climb – that we won't have the courage and wherewithal to scale it.

Development is to grow, develop, mature, progress, advance, change, ripen, improve or cultivate. [Thanks to Google.]

What about our value system, how do we reconcile it with the mantra of development? We have earned the reputation, and rightly so, of a nice people. But does it point to our inhibited and subdued instincts? Not confident nor at home with growth – i.e., reserved, self-conscious, repressed, withdrawn, shy, introverted and reticent? [Google, op. cit.]

And we conveyed them by shutting our borders, keeping FDI away and leaving the playing field for oligarchy to own – and their friends in high places as in political patronage. Because we see ourselves as static not dynamic, has Juan de la Cruz stunted his own growth and development?

Think – not once or twice – of Singapore attracting over a trillion US dollars in FDI. Have the Singaporeans [or any of our neighbors] lost out to foreign competition or to MNCs? They created MNCs and invested in PH! Creating a truly competitive environment elevated the character – and rectitude, integrity, reputation – and caliber of the Singaporeans. Can we figure that out and internalize it? But we are a people of faith!

Let’s try this one for size: “Ilia Delio, a Franciscan sister and scientist, describes the positive foundation we have in the cosmic Christ: Franciscan theology on the whole . . . emphasized the incarnation as the love of God made visible in the world. [St. Bonaventure, a medieval Franciscan, scholastic theologian and philosopher] did not consider the incarnation foremost as a remedy for sin but the primacy of love and the completion of creation. He recapitulated an idea present in the Greek fathers of the church, namely, Christ is the redeeming and fulfilling center of the universe. Christ does not save us from creation; rather, Christ is the reason for creation. . .. Christ is first in God’s intention to love; love is the reason for creation.

“Lacking an understanding of the Good News of the universal Christ, few have the vision to perceive any coherence between the Source and the Goal. The Christian message has had less and less significance for thinking people, for scientists, philosophers, social workers, and those trying to find a purpose for the universe. Christianity became merely another moralistic religion (which loved to ‘win’ over other religions and countries), overwhelmingly aligned with a limited period of history (empire building) and a small piece of the planet (Europe and eventually the Americas through colonization), rather than representing the whole of creation and a glorious destiny (Romans 8:18-21).

“Without the cosmic notion of Christ, Christians can’t understand that God is inherent in life itself, that God is the life force of everything who grows things from the inside. The Indwelling Spirit was our way of saying that God creates things that create themselves from within! In humans and animals this is experienced as sexuality, in plants as photosynthesis. Elements participate in the creative process through electromagnetic fields, fusion, and bonding. Even celestial bodies experience death and birth. There is only and always growth. Death is simply a transformative stage.

“Not surprisingly, many Christians ended up tragically fighting evolution along with most human-rights struggles [from slavery to climate change.] We had no evolutionary notion of Christ who is forever ‘groaning in one great act of giving birth’ (Romans 8:22). Yet we should have been on the front line of these issues, so our bold proclamation of love and justice could have pulled humanity forward.

“The Christian religion was made-to-order to grease the wheels of human consciousness toward love, nonviolence, earth care, and justice. Mature spirituality serves as a conveyor belt for the evolution of human consciousness. Immature religion stalls us at low levels of well-disguised egocentricity by fooling us into thinking we are more moral or holy than we are.

“Indeed God is not far from any one of us. For ‘In God we live and move and have our very being’ (Acts 17:27-28). If this is true, then it must be true everywhere and all the time. Small truth is not big enough to save a very large universe.” [Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation,Christ in Evolution, 4th Apr 2017]

And here’s the writer’s interpretation: It is screaming to be heard . . . There is only and always growth; death is simply a formative stage . . . And so, growth is central in our faith. Yet we have no evolutionary notion of Christ. Nor do we recognize the evolution of human consciousness. “Materiales fuertes,” which is an expression of our culture, nailed us down for good, to the past. 

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. To reprise an earlier post:  It comes with the territory, best described as our “culture” and defined as: parochial and insular; hierarchical and paternalistic; political patronage and dynasties; and oligarchic; that what comes out of the hopper is a culture of impunity.

And the consequences are dire. Paternalism makes us embrace “crab mentality” and shun the laws of physics. It is the converse of a functioning bureaucracy – the inability to distinguish the “vital few” from the “trivial many.” It reminds the writer of his late mother talking to her children, “share and share alike.”

How do we figure out and exploit PH’s potentials in tourism, for example, if we eschew instead of imagine and visualize the 80-20 rule? Two globally respected enterprises, Unilever and P&G, did it and were hammered by Wall Street. How do we move from input orientation, e.g., land and implements and then some and geared for subsistence farming, to an agribusiness industry that is outcome oriented, i.e., globally competitive in scale and specialization – like the Vietnamese demonstrated?

We’re stuck in a populist mantra – like the war on poverty plus the war on drugs to boot – instead of development.

PH poverty is a self-fulfilling prophecy. We must turn from shortsightedness and look beyond the horizon – from the small mind to the big mind and from an oligarchic economy to a globally competitive economy. If we want to be wealthier than the average American.

The Singaporeans did it. It is doable! Let’s stop looking at America as the Big Brother – we don’t have to be cowed and feel inferior.

Disclosure: As a “development worker” in Eastern Europe, it is the exact same thing the writer says to his friends. Not surprisingly, when they introduced him to the then Bulgarian president who visited their New York office, they described him as an economist. An economist to them is one that figures out how to bring wealth to a nation. But the writer corrected it and stressed “development worker” – their partner in their pursuit of self-improvement, growth and advancement . . . as they go toe-to-toe against the West, including America.

It explains the import of the letter from the White House conspicuous in the writer’s study, signed by George W. Bush, which reads in part, “Congratulations on receiving the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. Through service to others, you demonstrate the outstanding character of America and help strengthen our country.”

And it builds on an earlier post where the blog spoke to what America is that Trump is yet to manifest; that it is an idea, an expansive idea. America is not cast in stone. It is not relativism but evolution, in a world that is dynamic and not static. And despite his honed scientific mind, Einstein recognized the existence of a Higher Being; while Francis articulated that creation is not incompatible with evolution. There is only and always growth.

Adam and Eve learned what it meant after being banished from Eden. There’s no free rent nor free lunch, for starters. But no one said they had to live in caves. And then man had to overcome the industrial revolution, not to forget two World Wars and a sprinkling of despots. Today his challenge is to overcome the technology revolution, including artificial intelligence (AI.) Man isn’t about small-mindedness. He is made in the image and likeness of his Creator.

On the other hand, we Pinoys like the “feel good” and the “happy talk” as though ignorance is bliss – that for decades we took Singapore for granted. It is much smaller than Metro Manila. Who couldn’t turn it into a wealthy city-state – wealthier than America per capita? It has nothing to do with literal size. It has to do with a big or a small mind. 

What if we start learning from others and learning from our mistakes? And connecting the dots until we encounter the simplicity and beauty of creativity? The intellect is overrated; we want more imagination.

The family joins the writer in wishing one and all Happy Easter!

“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]

No comments:

Post a Comment