Today, June 30, is the Big Day for our country! And as I write this the inauguration celebration is ongoing. As you read this our new president NoyNoy Acquino has taken over the reigns of the government. His first official speech as President was very inspiring, due to his apparent sincerity and desire for a better Philippines. We pray this is the beginning of many everyday epiphanies of transformation and change in our country. We have to ask ourselves: is it possible to eradicate graft and corruption? Is it possible to upgrade the political climate and political will to reflect a more moral standard?
Politics and political life are an integral part of every society, of civil life, and of community life. Politics has enmeshed itself into every level of Philippine society, from the national level down to the barangay level, even down to the family level. Every time there is an election I find myself asking, “What, really, is politics all about?”
The books tell us that political authority is supposed to direct an ordered and upright community life in such a way as to assure its citizens of their basic freedoms and rights as well as define their social and civil responsibilities, for the attainment of the common good. Such authority should be moral in nature and promote justice, peace and healthy relationships between the political authority and the people.
True political will stems from a strong sense of nationalism, rather than individualism. Nationalism does not depend upon race or descent, but upon a common thought and goal. Without nationalism, authority, especially at the national management level, lacks strong foundation and conviction. In this country, it seems that there is a perpetual struggle between the values of colonial mentality (everything is better elsewhere) and the sense of Filipino nationalism, between pursuit of self-interest and that of the common good.
Elected government officials talk long about the need for economic expertise, for strong management ability, for developmental strategies in all sectors, etc. But how many relate their personalistic platforms to the real, honest needs and will of the majority of Filipino people? Where is the sense of nationalism here, the sense that as Filipinos we can not only survive but we can be victorious as a nation, not just as a group of individual people.
Politics, nationalism, and morality … can these go together? To me, more than economic formulas or dependence on electing a better group of leaders or change in 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 fundamental Christian moral values. We must bring Christ into the political arena and marketplace.
Transformative Christian stewardship is necessary from the ground up to the top. Thus the role of the BCBP is of great significance on local levels, national levels and in the marketplace at all levels.
Political parties should not only enumerate their positions on national issues in their party platforms but should also reveal their respective value and morality standards, with each of their candidates aspiring for office living out these values in their personal and political lives. They should state their stand on Filipino nationalism vs colonial mentality. They should be transparent about their personal integrity.
The bottom line here is that politics, political exercises and political leaders are a reflection of the people they serve. If we turn our backs on graft and corrupt practices, if we tolerate and just look the other way rather than stand up for the right, then we should not be surprised when those we voted for look for nefarious ways to recover their “investment” and those holding authoritative positions succumb to the dishonest temptations of the worldly marketplace.
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 moral leaders where there are no moral followers. P-Noy has clearly stated his standards. He has said that he cannot do it alone. We must be active participants in molding our future.
The determination of whether a nation or society is adhering to Christian morality is whether its citizenry, … that is all of us as individuals and as a group … constantly pursue a course of transformative, positive, moral, and dynamic action.
We have elected and proclaimed our new leaders. Is it too late? No, it is never too late to ask or rather demand those who win to clearly explain, and actually demonstrate, their stand on the concerns re exercise of political will, on their stand re development of a strong sense of nationalism among the Filipino people, on their respective value and morality standards. If enough of us speak up, surely our elected leaders will have to listen. If we keep after them, make them “kulit”, surely they will begin doing something about our areas of concern.
We are inspired by the words of our new president, about his determination to involve everyone in the path to a better future. But his words are just his words. They need to be our words and our desires, too. Our participation as concerned citizens in the electoral and political process and programs should not end on election day, or on inauguration day, but continue throughout the terms of those leaders we voted for – or against. This is the opportunity for the BCBP to come of age in the development of a better nation.