Saturday, April 29, 2006

Confronting Responsibly

the 21st century is a moment in history unprecedented with the wizardry of our time thus far unmatched and has brought about the meeting of diversity. This is the world my generation is coming of age in. Though much of the background has changed, it has by no measure meant the struggle of every generation be no less demanding, no less rigorous. as the world has become more accessible by travel, by contructive engagement, by the mingling of cultures and of communities we are even more influenced by them. though it is also true that in spite of all this, we have failed to uphold our institutions in the age of complexity.

how else to explain our diaspora?

of my contemporaries, they are finding themselves invited to visit places abroad--- some to conduct research, in japan for instance or in europe. of my professional contemporaries--- superb talent in computing find themselves constantly sought after everywhere else. many of my school chums likewise find themselves in similar situation as Czarinaah Pagay who explained why the doctor is out and why nurses are on indefinite leave. this latter group of medical practitioners of course is likewise also explained by the fact, if you aren't a pedigree--- UP, UST and don't have the money to buy your way into a hospital through stock acquisitions, chances are you'd be out of practice. At the end of the day, as the saying goes, irregardless of generation or culture, talent goes where the money is.

our nation is faced with many important decisions like dancing the Cha-Cha or a moral revolution.

Randy David wrote this: "Our national crisis stems largely from our inability to recognize this growing complexity in our affairs. We tend to view this crisis as a crisis of values, rather than a crisis of systems. In our quest for solutions, we pin our hopes in the revival of personal integrity, and seldom in the formation of appropriate institutions. Ours are the instincts of a simple society lost in the modern world.
" then he adds this: "Our inability as a people to become modern is visible in almost every sphere of our national life. In modern democracies, for example, politics is the domain of political parties offering alternative solutions to society's problems. Political debates revolve around ideology and programs of government. In the Philippines, politics remains the vocation of political clans and celebrity politicians. Political debate revolves around personalities and vested interests."

Certainly, all true though while this country is facing a crisis of systems, i disagree that it is just what we need to correct because it is also equally true that a creative solution to our crisis must go hand in hand with a revival of personal integrity. one without the other will only result in disappointments. how so?

again we turn to Mr. David, who wrote in the same column to give us an understanding why this is so: "The family is the hub that connects almost every societal function, be it politics, business, or religion." Family in this nation is the most fundamental institution, one that our present Constitution recognizes and protects to a fault and stems at the heart of the matter. Through family we act. it is why women go to japan dancing to feed their family here. it is why the oldest sibling would push himself to enable his younger siblings a chance at an education, when their parents can not. it is for all these same reasons that graft happens--- to provide more to meet the growing material demands of our society.

The crisis of systems we are facing is that we have weak insitutions as Mr. David wrote. Press Secretary Bunye said it exactly right when he was quoted: “On one side are the public that seek genuine changes to promote economic and social progress and on the other side are anti-reform groups that seek to preserve the political gridlock that has served the interests of a very few,” he said, ” The time for change is now, not in the future.” And begging, Mrs. Aquino's pardon, this is a time for change and we should not be timid to face it.

Yes, Charter Change is a good thing but not the changes Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her ilk want: a parliament. Such a move will only consolidate the forces of patronage politics, ensure that the flow of pork is the flow of power and influence. it effectively ensures that the political families both the professional and the celebrity retain their seats of power and no new blood flows into the system. This Charter Change does not by far choose to emancipate our people. Neither does it capture the values of entrepreneurship and spread it across every facet of our national life. Quite contrary, it will strangle it and institutionalize Patronage Politics even further.

many minds out there are trying to find creative new solutions to get this country out of its rut. we have a crisis of systems--- as precisely as Randy David concluded: "These are lapses lie at the center of our present political crisis. They are all traceable to our failure to uphold the separation of institutional functions." But equally so, All this go hand in hand with a crisis of values, which exist at the most fundamental institution of this country: family. It explains why my generation has no role model, no hero.

Ironically, the generations have unconciously adapted a do it yourself mentality--- like all the Czarinaah Pagays out there, they find places where their talent and money flow in parallel. History marches forward and waits for no one.

"The New Bards"--- was an introduction to a book by Mark Waid and Alex Ross called "Kingdom Come". The author of "The New Bards", Elliot S. Maggin wrote this and is very apt to our situation today: "...our proper response to the inexorable march of progress that has brought us to this place and time in the history of civilization is to find a way to confront it responsibly. Not modestly. Not unself-consciously. Not with faith in a power greater than ours to decend from the sky and set things right despite our best efforts to screw up. We have an obligation to know who we are and where we are and what we can do. We have an obligation to understand the ramifications of the things we do, and to choose to do them--- or not--- with our open eyes."

This is a creative solution to the trials this nation is facing and will face. Irregardless one thing is for certain: we must understand and accept the ramifications of all the things we do--- and we must do so equally with open eyes. Confronting responsibly the demands of our time: change--- in the way we do things and our values must come together and we must not be timid to make it work.


benign0 said...

Interesting that you should highlight this lack of a role model in our society. If you take a good cross-section of the characters that inhabit that quintessential surrogate parent of Pinoy youth -- the showbiz industry -- you will get an even deeper sense of doom.

Our values system places no value on intellectual achievement. Which is why our most talented intellectuals are either voting with their feet, or employed by foreigners.

Another good book to take a look at is The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida. In it, Florida describes the kinds of environments that tend to attract brains and creativity (why, for example, San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area is populated by more than its fair share of talent).

cocoy said...

i know hehee. probably one reason why i don't watch tv. even for the news... rather browse through it on the internet.

still, i'd like to keep an upbeat/hopeful view. ;)

i will try to look for that book. its on my pull list. thanks!

ellenweber said...

In your opinion how can we integrate more ideas from different cultures so that we can learn from one another at deeper levels. Thanks for the blog to open these issues to discussion!

cocoy said...

hi ellen, thanks for reading my blog. i find that constant interaction with differnet cultures helps a lot even if you just communicate say with a colleague working in europe. also companies/organizations gather people from various places--- to get best practices. exposure to different things helps broaden horizons.

basically i believe we just have to have an open mind.

thats just my two cents.

benign0 said...

I don't think it's just a matter of exposure though. As it is, Pinoy society is already bombarded by Western culture. Yet Pinoys still fail to grasp the deepest meaning or essence of some of the ideas being acquired.

For example, we have been exposed to the concept of democracy for a hundred years. Yet we fail to grasp nor appreciate its most subtle essence. The results of how we execute our democracy speaks for itself.

It is all about the conceptual tools that we need to equip ourselves with. Language is an obvious shortcoming. Whilst most Pinoys are conversant in English, very few have a good enough command of it to comprehend and meaningfully exchange really deep ideas.

Tagalog for its part already struggles to articulate 100-year-old ideas. What more the torrent of new English-articulated information being created everyday...

cocoy said...

i refer u to my reply to ellen's question thats what i meant when i said exposure. and i know this isn't possible for 90% of people anywhere in the world--- but travel also helps, seeing a culture at their home turf is also different.

take for example what you were getting at--- that western culture has bombarded ours but there are subtle aspects of the language that filipinos don't get. its because its not our "natural" language. you'll get it if you're talking to an american for example almost all the time and years on end. when i mean talking--- in active conversation, even if its mundane. it'll take years and probably never to get it all.

in the same token that an american living in the philippines for example may know how to understand filipino and speak it-- but in the same way may not get the subtle aspects of our language because its not his native tougue. he may not also get why some Filipinos for example, pour coffee on their rice and have a great time eating it with fish for example. i'm filipino and i don't get that!

all i'm saying is that we learn new things--- "best practices" from other people by just listening to their experiences. china may be doing somethings with a product a filipino counterpart may draw inspiration for a product that may work here, for example. and sometimes it doesn't work.

some people have this difficulty with things "not invented here". a friend of mine was invited to microsoft philippines and given a tour and that was his impression of microsoft--- if its not invented there, they don't use it. somethings one is very good at, somethings we're not that great with and sometimes learning from others' experiences is a great way of for us to learn.

the internet is a great place--- i've learned a lot from you people and i've met friends around the world through playing games, through chat. and thats just for the personal stuff. business is even better.

as for how we execute democracy, i know its disheartening sometimes. frustrating most of the time--- but i believe it is an excellent learning experience. we stumble, we fall, make mistakes--- but as long as we keep on trying and picking ourselves up, i believe its a good thing. ;)

i know where you're coming from :) cheers bro and happy labor day to everyone here!