By Nancy R. Catan, BCBP Manila
We have just completed another election for our national and local leaders. Time for clean-up! Life goes on. Are we happy with the results? Yes and no. I share with you some of my reflections.
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.
The “experts” tell us that true political will stems from a strong sense of nationalism, rather than individualism. Nationalism does not depend upon race, or one’s family genes, or what area in the country you come from, but upon a common thought and goal. Without nationalism, they say, authority, especially at the national management level, lacks strong foundation and conviction.
Candidates have talked long about the need for strong management ability especially in critical areas, for economic and developmental strategies, etc. But how many related 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. 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.
The bottom line here, or the roots of that sign in the picture, is that politics, political exercises and political leaders are a reflection of the people they serve. 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 consistently moral followers. And if we, as a nation and society, lack great moral leaders and committed moral followers, we will never achieve greatness or exude confidence as a truly Filipino nation.
One of our church leaders circulated this just before the day of elections: “Time to Unite. When the elections shall have been concluded and winners proclaimed in accordance with law, we beg you all, in the name of Jesus Christ, to be instruments of peace, reconciliation and healing. Let those who prevail rise in nobility above the hurtful words that may have been uttered by opponents, and draw them rather into a government of unity, but unity that firmly rests neither on expediency nor compromise, but on truth and justice.”
Yes, we want unity, truth, justice, change. But where should this change begin? I believe that change rests not just with our leaders, but with each one of us. If we want our leaders to effect change in the political landscape, we must ask ourselves what changes should we make in our own personal landscape, in ourselves. Only when we are able to transform ourselves little by little, can we together with each other help heal our land as our God reminds us in 2 Chronicles 7:14.
“If my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my presence and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land.”
Yes, the elections are over and the winners proclaimed. Is it too late? No, it is never too late to ask or rather demand those who have won to clearly explain, and later on 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. Our participation as concerned citizens in the electoral process should not end on election day, but continue throughout the terms of those leaders we voted for – or against.
And we must never forget or ignore the fact that true change, positive dynamic transformation of any political, community, church, or family body always begins with you, with me, with each one of us. I believe with fervent prayers and the help of the Holy Spirit all things are possible for Him Who has never failed in His love for us.