Let us build each other up

There seems to be a belief or underlying assumption that Filipinos are a corrupt and/or corruptible people and therefore the best way to govern and do business with them is to feed that tendency: be the corruptor. In addition, if one corrupts enough individuals in strategic positions, then one becomes untouchable in the Philippines or at least be ‘Teflon-coated’, i.e., no criminal or other charge sticks and one gets away with impunity – almost always!

In this formulation, we have subject and object: “corruptor” and “corrupt and/or corruptible”.

As sons and daughters of God (once we accept and have faith in the saving grace of the supreme sacrifice and resurrection of the One whose birth we commemorate this season), or as humans without belief in any deity, or as persons of whatever shade or category of spirituality at the moment, do we Filipinos agree to be treated as corrupt and/or corruptible objects of monetary designs? In the exercise of our individual free will, do we first acquiesce in the presumption of “being corrupt and/or corruptible” before acceding to easy and juicy blandishments that result in immediate personal benefits but defeat the greatest good of our greatest number? Or, do we simply accede and thus indirectly but unmistakably confirm that assumption of corruption?

First, let’s clarify. This “assumption” is not part of our DNA. But it can become effective, if we accept it. So we should not accept or let these presumptions continue without challenging them; we should do all in our power to assert and maintain Filipino moral integrity.

Filipino Citizen, you are Sovereign! The Final Say is yours.

Don’t you ever relinquish that: not to friends and family; not to government; not to businessmen; not to the military; not to the “nagha-hari-harian” pretenders; not to the “know-it-alls”; not to opinion makers or shapers; not to blog, facebook and other noosphere denizens; not to the so-called elite or A class; not to psychology-using marketers; not to any one!

The buck stops with you: not in Malacanang nor the Senate nor the House; not in Camp Aguinaldo nor Camp Crame; not in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry nor in the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce nor in the Philippine-US Business Council nor in the Makati Business Club; not in Trade Unions; not in the NPA nor the MNLF nor the MILF; not in non-government organizations nor any other aggrupation or movement: but ultimately only in you, the individual sovereign!

God gave every one the spirit “of power and of love and of sound mind” to energize the gift of our free will. Let’s consider using this spirit-gift tandem very well, to secure the greatest good of our greatest number. Individually, let us think for ourselves: that’s what sovereigns do. As a people, let us keep a consensus on the value of “the greatest good for our greatest number”, which should be our prime criterion; and let’s be careful with those who would muddle the definition of this value to bring it back to the outcome of selfish personal gains regardless of negative effects on others resulting in the opposite of ‘the greatest good for the greatest number’.

Free will does not only mean the choice of “I, me, mine”; it equally means the option for “ours”. Our history unfortunately contains a heavy momentum of “I, me, mine” choices by our predecessors and this pattern of choices strongly continues up to the present. Let us realize it was by the feeding and encouragement of these ego-based selfish choices and then taking advantage of the ensuing conflicts that the Spaniards, the Americans, the Japanese and the current native and not-so-native ‘elites’ have controlled and leashed the powers and potentials of the Filipino people to benefit the corruptors/intriguers’ own interests.

Is this custom and tradition? No. Only a pattern of choices repeated over time; just one or a few actions, repeatedly done, that have not only disempowered our people but also resulted largely in negative consequences for our greatest numbers.

Yet we have the power to choose empowering thoughts, ideas, emotions and, more importantly, actions based on the “ours” option. “We” means every individual citizen freely exercising his and her power of choice for “the greatest good of the greatest number” based on the value of “kung anu ang makakabuti sa madla hindi lang sa akin” (what benefits the greatest number, not just me).

We can make new empowering choices and repeat them over time. We are the subjects. We do the choosing. Woe unto those who presume we can be their objects! And woe unto those who operate on the presumption of “Filipino corruption and/or corruptibility”.

Every human being has a price, they say. Human nature, after all, has tendencies that if left alone makes hell mankind’s default destination. But thanks to the Father’s unconditional giving love (agape) for humanity, He sent His only begotten Son (the reason for the season) to be the pure and spotless sacrifice of atonement for these human tendencies, so that by our free will we can avail of the chance (opened through the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ) to change our default destination to at-one-ment with the Father in heaven. We can make this availment by believing in the atoning sacrifice of the Redeemer, repenting of our sins, inviting Him to come into our hearts, and welcoming the Holy Spirit Who comes on His behalf, resulting thus in our becoming sons and daughters of God in Jesus. Through this forgiving love of God, we are set free from the past and enabled to face the present and the future wise, secure and unafraid. Then, we can move on, surely.

Yet as we move ahead, there is danger. The danger comes from within. It is the insidious thought pattern which says: “Paano kung dudugasin lang tayo ng kapwa Pilipino? Mabuti pa unahan na lang natin; kunin na lang natin ang puwedeng makuha; bahala na sila sa kanilang mga sarili”; (What if our fellow Filipinos will just screw us up? It’s better to beat them to the draw and simply take what we can; they can take care of themselves!)

Mga Kababayan (countrymen), remember: this and similar thought patterns of distrust and false superiority were and are the very bases for and the power-sources of the ‘divide and conquer’ strategy that, wittingly or unwittingly on our part, have been so easily used and applied against our common and greater interests.

Should we allow this distorted momentum of our history to continue? No. We have the power to choose not to. We already know it has not resulted in the greatest good of our greatest number.

But let’s start small. Let’s begin by trusting our small, close circles, informing them of that trust and the reason why: “kung anu ang makakabuti sa madla hindi lang sa akin”. Then let’s build on these new building blocks of trust. Let’s build each other up, as the bible says; let’s give each other the respect owing to sons and daughters of God; more importantly, let’s behave as such sons and daughters of the Most High. And resolve to work on this, over time, to continually enlarge our circles until the many circles of sovereign trust overlap and form one grand circle of cooperating but not identical sovereigns.

It appears that this cannot be a weak and shallow resolution. Logic indicates a need to reverse the submerged and rooted momentum of the colonialists’ ploy of creating or encouraging small points of distrust among our people and building on those building blocks of distrust until it became so easy to use one group against another, to make our forebears literally kill each other, so the colonialists could control and dominate all. Yes, we have had political “independence” for sometime now, but as our contemporary headlines show, one can easily discern the results of the distortions of distrust and the evils of “mas magaling pa ako sa iyo” (I’m better than you) mentality and its corollary frame of mind: the disparaging ‘onli en da pilipins’ knee-jerk reaction, manifesting thus in periodic rituals of self-blaming self-flagellation and/or dis-identification (hindi ako kasali diyan; sila lang ‘yan; I’m not part of that; only they are involved; therefore, I’m not proud to be Filipino) as might be occasioned by crimes, massacres, disasters whether nature- or human-caused, electoral abuses or even beauty queen slips of the tongue.

The point is: we can, and should, choose to build up and respect the Filipino. Because no other people in all the universes will do this for us.

Our choices are: a) let things be; b) make the “ours” option (“kung anu ang makakabuti sa madla hindi lang sa akin”) the main basis for our daily TEA – thoughts, emotions, actions; or c) “whatever” in the uninvolved, escapist, even dismissive/disrespectful sense it is used by some in the younger generation.

As the Lord in the Bible told the Abrahamic line of old to choose life not death, we submit to you sovereign Filipino: choose the empowering “ours” option over the nationally debilitating “I, me mine” habitual pattern, and certainly over “whatever”.

Making this choice and assuming the consequent responsibilities are ours to bear. Yes, ours: individual sovereign Filipino citizens. No one else’s!

*** Edwin D. Bael was Consul General of the Philippines in Los Angeles (2000 to 2002). He is now President/CEO of Bael Consulting, LLC, based in Phoenix, Arizona, specializing in management, policy and international trade matters.

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