Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What would Rizal say?

As we celebrated another Independence Day, should we be asking Who are we and what are we? And where are we? [Du30 apparently was attending to Marawi that he didn’t make it to the celebration.] “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]

“It is said that Francis’ great prayer, which he would spend whole nights praying, was ‘Who are you, God? And who am I?’ Contemplative prayer helps us to live into these questions. Who am I? As we observe our minds in contemplation, first we recognize how many of our thoughts are defensive, oppositional, paranoid, self-referential … Saint Francis is what some call a prime attractor’—one who moves history and humanity forward just by being who he is.” [Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation, 9th Jun 2017]

But let’s bring that to the here and now. “He wanted to empower the crazy ones—the misfits, the rebels and the troublemakers, the round pegs, and the square holes—to do the best work. If we could just do that, Steve [Jobs] knew we could really change the world.

“Before that moment, I had never met a leader with such passion or encountered a company with such a clear and compelling purpose: to serve humanity. It was just that simple. Serve humanity. And it was in that moment, after 15 years of searching, something clicked. I finally felt aligned. Aligned with a company that brought together challenging, cutting edge work with a higher purpose. Aligned with a leader who believed that technology which didn’t exist yet could reinvent tomorrow’s world. Aligned with myself and my own deep need to serve something greater …

“MIT and Apple share so much. We both love hard problems. We love the search for new ideas, and we especially love finding those ideas, the really big ones, the ones that can change the world.” [Tim Cook delivers MIT’S 2017 commencement speech, 9th June 2017]

But we are Pinoys. Who are we and what are we? Which brings Fr. Bulatao to mind. “Fr. Jaime C. Bulatao introduced group dynamics in the Philippines and wrote The Technique of Group Discussion (1965). He advocated the importance of understanding of the Filipino psyche, and undertook studies on Filipino culture, and the phenomena of spirituality and consciousness.  This led to his seminal Phenomena and their Interpretation: Landmark Essays 1957–1989 (1992).

“As a clinical psychologist, Fr. Bu aimed to find the kind of therapy best suited for Filipinos, experimenting with different alternatives that combined both his knowledge of Western methods and his understanding of the local culture … At the turn of the century, he devoted most of his time grounding his thoughts about relationships through numbers and quantitative methods.” [Jose Ramon T Villarin SJ, President, Ateneo de Manila University, 11th Feb 2015]

Fr. Bulatao, had he lived longer, would be well on the way to the Filipino pursuit of innovation, having trained his thoughts on the soft and the hard sciences. Why is that important? Ideology, think Padre Damaso since we're talking about Rizal, nor pure algorithm can’t be the fountain of innovation. 

Tim Cook explains: “As Steve once said, technology alone is not enough. It is technology married with the liberal arts married with the humanities that make our hearts sing. When you keep people at the center of what you do, it can have an enormous impact. It means an iPhone that allows the blind person to run a marathon. It means an Apple Watch that catches a heart condition before it becomes a heart attack. It means an iPad that helps a child with autism connect with his or her world. In short, it means technology infused with yourvalues, making progress possible for everyone.

“Whatever you do in your life, and whatever we do at Apple, we must infuse it with the humanity that each of us is born with. That responsibility is immense, but so is the opportunity.”

Which brings another Jesuit to mind, Fr. Vitaliano “George” R. Gorospe. “A grinning, joking, laughing Fr. George, as he is fondly called, fills their remembering. Beneath his jovial and vivacious demeanor, however, is a teacher's seriousness and purposefulness in inspiring and challenging them to be men and women of faith, justice, and compassion.” [Dr. Ma. Christina A. Astorga, Theology Department, January 28, 2002]

This isn’t the first time the blog brought up Fr. George. The writer, though not an Atenean, is proud to call him a friend, and so does the wife. And the one vivid recollection they have is Fr. George’s non-stop challenge re reality.

But it was not until many years later, dense as he was, would the writer find it a powerful thinking tool. And today his Eastern European friends likewise find it to be so. Which gives them lots of confidence in their pursuit of innovation and global competition. Ever diligent with their homework to understand human needs given their commitment to raise man’s wellbeing. That innovation is not for innovation’s sake. [To put that in perspective, the biggest business in their portfolio which they created 15 years ago – from zero knowledge – to compete against the West’s (read world’s) largest player in the category in their home market, today has > 39% share against the latter’s 20%.]

But let’s get back to PH. “United States special forces are providing support to the Philippine military battling to dislodge Islamist militants in a southern city, the US embassy said Saturday, as 13 Filipino Marines were killed in fresh fighting.

“The announcement of US help in the embattled southern region comes after President Rodrigo Duterte has sought to reduce the Philippines’ reliance on the United States and build much closer ties with China and Russia.

“Philippine troops are struggling to defeat hundreds of fighters, who rampaged through Marawi on May 23 flying black flags of the Islamic State group, and have used bomb-proof tunnels, anti-tank weapons and civilians as human shields to fortify their positions.

“Friday’s ferocious, street-to-street gun battles with the militants saw 13 troops killed in a dramatic surge in the toll from the conflict.” [US backs fight vs Maute, Dempsey Reyes, The Manila Times, 11th Jun 2017]

Did we not say this was a surgical intervention, meaning, it was as simple as cut and paste? But we said the same thing with the war on drugs? Where are we? Who are we and what are we?

We were proud to kick out the occupants of Clark and Subic. Yet we all know wealthy nations rely on the US military. What is reality? It is only the Americans that can spend over $600-B in the military while in pursuit of a set of universal values, which they call an experiment. Where is China or Russia? Are they similarly committed to these values? And let’s not interject our paternalistic needs when we look outward. Let’s learn to take personal responsibility to find our place in the sun.

And the blog won’t tire to call us out, given it is our reality: Parochial and insular; hierarchical and paternalistic; political patronage and dynasties; and oligarchic; that when all is said and done, a culture of impunity.

“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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