We read and hear a lot nowadays about agendas, especially political agendas, both the ones proclaimed publicly as well as those unspoken but nevertheless reasonably clear “hidden agendas”. Political slogans and speeches boast of one’s integrity, and yet they do not define what, to them, integrity means. Or on what principles they base their life and their decisions. It makes me wonder if they really know what they are doing, or what they intend on doing, or is it all just schedules, activities, words and parades to get people’s attention and up their approval rating.

Sometimes I feel that my life, too, is ruled by agendas, by my calendar, by schedules and by all the things I should, must, or would like to do. Meetings to attend, twice weekly radio programs to prepare for, planning and editing the BCBP Community Portal and the Kapatiran, corporate financial reports to be reviewed, our company’s summer sports program to get ready for, Jun’s patent applications to be edited, the family dinner get-together that I will host needs a menu and grocery list, long overdue letters to write to my US family, various BCBP activities to attend, my weekly column to write for the Negros Chronicle (Dumaguete), etc., etc., etc. It seems every time I sit down to catch my breath, something else squeezes its way onto my calendar.

When things pile up and the stress of the day catches me out-of-breath, I pause and ask myself: Is all this really necessary? What is my life all about anyway? And then comes the key question: Am I doing God’s agenda that He has planned for me? Slowly and sometimes with difficulty, I have learned through prayer and reflection to go with the flow, to dance with the Spirit (even when I have two left feet), and have faith that “Yes, I am doing what He wants me to do.” Aligning my life’s agenda with His and being focused helps me make better decisions and gives integrity and direction to my activities. In this way I live out my values and principles every day for all to clearly see what kind of person I am.

The election process is about over and those officials who have won are now immersed in the process of constructing and fine-tuning their agendas and programs in preparation for their assumption of office. We hear about search and screening committees, qualifications and ideals, political will, economic management and developmental expertise. To me, more than economic formulas or dependence on selecting a good group of leaders or change in the system of government, if we are to realize a better national community, as well as a better local community, we must go back to basics – to basic Christian moral values.

Political parties and political people should not only enumerate their action programs but should also reveal their respective value and morality standards …and do this in as transparent a manner as possible. In other words, are they living out these values in their personal and political lives? Are their agendas transparent? Are they asking themselves the hard questions: Am I doing God’s agenda that He has planned for me? Do I know what He has planned for me? Am I listening to Him?

These are questions that each of us needs to ask ourselves from time to time so that we do not get totally distracted by the lures of the world and lose our focus. We can only appreciate God’s wonderful work in our lives when we slow ourselves down enough to be able to see, really see His manifestations around us. I am trying to schedule every day a time to set my agendas aside, to savor the everyday epiphanies God loves to surprise me with, and to praise and thank Him for His generosity and love.

What am I trying to say? The bottom line here is that politics, political exercises and political leaders, as well as all other kinds of leaders – in families, in communities, in parishes, in barangays, in municipalities and cities – are just a reflection of the people they serve. That’s us! If we sell our votes to the highest bidder, then we should not be surprised when those we voted for look for nefarious ways to recover their “investment”. If we tolerate corrupt or evil practices without standing up for what is right, moral, just and Christian, then the devil is very happy.

It is said that there are no great leaders where there are no great followers. I would like to paraphrase this and say: there are no great morally upright leaders where there are no morally upright followers. And if we feel that we, as a nation and society, lack great moral leaders and committed moral followers, we only have ourselves to blame.

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