Friday, June 2, 2017

One step forward, two steps back

We have enough lessons from the past yet moving forward is something we have yet to figure out? Because our desires outweigh our beliefs? Which translates to “You’re Not Going to Change Your Mind . . . Unfortunately, people do not always revise their beliefs in light of new information. On the contrary, they often stubbornly maintain their views. Certain disagreements stay entrenched and polarized.

“Our study suggests that political belief polarization may emerge because of peoples’ conflicting desires, not their conflicting beliefs per se. This is rather troubling, as it implies that even if we were to escape from our political echo chambers, it wouldn’t help much. Short of changing what people want to believe, we must find other ways to unify our perceptions of reality.” [You’re Not Going to Change Your Mind, Ben Tappin, Leslie van der Leer and Ryan McKay, Gray Matter, The New York Times, 27th May 2017; Ben Tappin is a graduate student, and Ryan McKay is a reader in psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London. Leslie van der Leer is a lecturer in psychology at Regent’s University London]

How does that relate to Juan de la Cruz? He believes in democracy yet his desire is for a strong leadership. And the reason Marcos and Duterte continue to have followers – really, believers – is because of our desire for strong leadership, as in our instincts of leader dependency. And it is consistent with who and what we are: parochial and insular; hierarchical and paternalistic; political patronage and dynasties; and oligarchic; that when all is said and done, a culture of impunity.

Our belief is tyranny by the minority is wrong yet we are in bed with oligarchy because of our desire for paternalism. We bow to hierarchy in exchange for paternalism. And it explains why despite Lee and Mahathir telling Deng and us to beg for Western money and technology, we continue to rationalize and see the West as evil – and would rather have a nation run like hell by Filipinos.

If supporting Deng and the Asian Tigers before China with Western money and technology is evil, then so be it. Of course, the West expected something in return. A bigger market, i.e., a world that is interconnected, founded on universal values. Note perfection is not in the equation.

Which is what Merkel is telling Trump and the Brits. But can anyone predict how the world will evolve and develop? That is a question Adam and Eve feared as well – despite being made in the image and likeness of The Creator.

“Movies and pop culture get this all wrong. The idea of a single eureka moment is a dangerous lie. It makes us feel inadequate since we haven't had ours. It prevents people with seeds of good ideas from getting started. Oh, you know what else movies get wrong about innovation? No one writes math formulas on glass. That's not a thing.

“It's good to be idealistic. But be prepared to be misunderstood. Anyone working on a big vision will get called crazy, even if you end up right. Anyone working on a complex problem will get blamed for not fully understanding the challenge, even though it's impossible to know everything upfront. Anyone taking initiative will get criticized for moving too fast, because there's always someone who wants to slow you down.

“In our society, we often don't do big things because we're so afraid of making mistakes that we ignore all the things wrong today if we do nothing. The reality is, anything we do will have issues in the future. But that can't keep us from starting.” [Mark Zuckerberg, Harvard graduation speech]

The writer represented the West in China as well as the rest of the region; and as the world knows, they did their part and built the largest middle-class community the world has known, and reduced poverty drastically.

Of course, we Pinoys did not benefit, parochial and insular as we are. And for the last 14 years the writer is again representing the West in Central and Eastern Europe. And the progress demonstrated by his friends is the inspiration behind the blog.

The writer was there to witness AEC come into being (as well as NAFTA and the EU.) And we can’t argue against the success of our neighbors – and are wooing China given their economic clout – and may even hold the belief that infrastructure development, industrialization and urbanization are the building blocks of growth and development. Yet our desires have defined us – from parochial . . . going . . . full circle to a culture of impunity.

Consider that Du30 sees something in common amongst himself, Putin and Trump. And like Juan de la Cruz, he desires strong leadership, read that as autocratic. And why he is following the Marcos playbook too.

But did we not say that electing Du30 being from Mindanao is a big plus – because he will not put up with Imperial Manila? And he has a model in Davao on how to pursue development country-wide? Now it appears Mindanao is the model for the imposition of martial law country-wide? And what about the mantra of Build-Build-Build?

The administration is now saying that without its tax reform agenda, Build-Build-Build is not a given? One step forward, two steps back? More to the point, Davao or Mindanao cannot be the model in our pursuit of growth and development in the same manner that betting on the OFW phenomenon and the BPO industry was wrong headed.

For a people with no history and track record to speak of development-wise, should we not be asking ourselves what model and body of knowledge must guide us and be our True North? Or are we simply demonstrating misplaced swagger and hubris – including us in the chattering classes? But then again, it is consistent with our parochial and insular instincts that feed on a fixed mindset.

“It assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens. They can’t change in any meaningful way. And success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard.” [Carol Dweck, Stanford psychologist]

Put another way, who can argue against our accomplishments especially as individuals in the local milieu? And because we can hold our own given our value of hierarchy, for instance, we measure ourselves against a fixed set of standards. And we can even invoke such universal values as family, faith, humility . . . and the like.

Yet despite our beliefs in these values, we are stuck with our instincts and desires, that is, parochial and insular; hierarchical and paternalistic; political patronage and dynasties; and oligarchic; that when all is said and done, a culture of impunity. And we are not going to change our mind.

Today will be like yesterday and tomorrow too . . . And that is the challenge of Philippine higher education.

“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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