I am always surprised when some take my writings personally. Perhaps I have been deficient in making clear that I intend to comment on the social integrity of the Philippines, or lack there of. Not the integrity of Filipinos as individuals.
There is a distinction between the character of the individual and the character of the social framework within which people operate.
Take America. Americans are fundamentally good people. They seek to better themselves. They are for the most part good parents. They obey the laws, go to church or subscribe to rational good thoughts, and sacrifice for their country by serving in the military and paying taxes. They contribute their earnest labors to the accumulation of national capital.
Americans are also greedy consumers of the world's resources. They shop like crazy with little regard for the impact the goods they purchase have on the world's well-being. They are wasteful. My guess is that, collectively, they throw away enough food every day to feed all the squatter's villages in the Philippines. They buy things in order to feel important or look good. They could be giving to charity instead.
So the people are good, but the social framework could use some work to move evermore toward a healthy, vibrant caring society.
When I write a piece about the Philippines entitled "Born to Fail", I don't intend for that article to say to every Filipino "you are a failure". I am trying to express a concept that the Philippine social framework has some inherent problems that work AGAINST the well-being of the Philippines, and Filipinos.
I am FOR the well-being of the Philippines, and Filipinos. And I think Filipinos are fundamentally good people. Intelligent, well-meaning, proud, hard-working. They commit to their family and their community. They are sincere. They are good humored. They sacrifice for their loved ones.
But the Philippine social framework penalizes Filipinos because it suppresses initiative, creativity and achievement. Schools teach kids how to spit back what they are told rather than create new knowledge themselves. The workplace is plugged by the hiring of family and favorites. The Philippines lacks the dynamic of millions of people aspiring to better themselves, prove themselves to the boss, compete for promotions based on productivity, and grow richer in money and capability. Successful nations instill hope and opportunity, and from that flows achievement. It is in our human bones, this need to grow and build. But the social forces at play in the Philippines suppress it.
It is difficult for citizens to create change. Legislator self-interest is bound in keeping things the same, so that they can win elections and get rich in ways that are open to the powerful but not the powerless. The courts do not give the people a voice in correcting the cheating and wrongdoing that abound. They erect fee barriers and are clogged with delays and inefficiency. For justice to be fair, it needs to be speedy. In the Philippines, it is not. So the people have no direct voice, in law.
The regal attitude of the leadership extends throughout the land to any forum where person A has what person B wants. Too many government offices, retail stores and services vendors are cold, brusque, oand autocratic, scowling at customers. Doctors refuse to respect that a customer has things to do other than sit and wait for hours on a "first come" basis. There is no drive to put the customer first. And so inefficiency and sloppy service characterize how customers are treated. The citizen is pushed down. Down. Down.
The social framework is oppressive. It is anti-efficient. It is a framework of a society that is born to fail.
How wonderful it would be if fundamentally good people had a chance to excel. Rather than be held back.
- How wonderful it would be if good kids had a chance to be all that they can be. Rather than drifting mindlessly through a public school system hopelessly over-crowded and under-resourced. Technology provides the means to leverage teaching talent.
- How wonderful it would be if capable people were rewarded with promotions and more pay, removing the favoritism that plugs all the upward paths with incompetence. Who wants corruption when they have a career?
- How wonderful it would be if the courts were open to all, efficient and just. Rather than useless at providing the public with a place to redress wrongs and demand change. How dynamic the nation would become if the people had a voice in law.
- How wonderful it would be if service providers grasped the uplift that comes from recognizing the customer is king. And GAVE respect instead of demanding it for themselves. How refreshing to feel lifted up rather than beaten down.
To President Aquino I would say fighting corruption case by case is like putting a Band-Aid on a heart attack. It is also a negative initiative. Go positive and start building a social framework that unbinds the dreams and capabilities of a good people: Education that teaches kids to aspire. Employment rules that mandate that rewards go to capability not friends, and removes the incentives for corruption. Courts that work, that quickly bring the corrupt and other lawbreakers to account. Customer service that respects Filipinos, and uplifts them.
Give good people a framework for self enhancement. Stop holding them back.
Free the Philippines.
Free Filipinos to achieve and prosper.