This enlightenment struck me right between the eyeballs the other day as I was busy on my school bus run driving my kid to his nursery school where he is learning to speak English and sing Bible songs and ignore his teachers. Like he ignores everyone hereabouts, except his American father who attaches discipline to misbehavior. No one else seems to get the connection. It's also why the dog obeys me and no one else. Kids and dogs are not all that different, you know.
But I digress.
The little lady and I had just finished up another minor inter-cultural spat as I groused about her half-hour shower when we were running a half-hour late to get the kid to the school bus on time. I suggested that she could have gotten clean in 15 minutes. She suggested that I could have fed the kid myself.
Well, both are right, of course, but our agreed upon work is that she feeds the kid because I have to . . . um, work . . . on the computer. We also have agreed that the American standard of time management is to be followed to prevent hubby (that's me) from going apoplectic in a high blood seizure, and dropping dead.
So if we agree on the standards, my wife missed the mark this morning by running casually late in the Philippine tradition. Then she used the tried and true method of shifting blame to me for the screw-up.
My argument in the car somehow moved away from time management and into a thing called "responsibility", the thing my wife was trying to deny by blaming me for not feeding the kid.
That's when the enlightenment came. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir raised its lusty sopranos to the rafters of their fancy temple somewhere near here, the gongs from the Chinese symbols bonged loudly from the Spratleys, and the bells of Adano rang across the seas from Italy singing praises to the Lord for this rapturous moment.
Unless my wife accepts responsibility for meeting our American clock, we are bound to do this over and over again. Unless she says "I goofed on that one" and "I must change", she will not change.
That, my friends, is why not much changes in the Philippines. Because everyone is so damned skilled at blaming and making excuses rather than manning up, owning up, and figuring out a better way to do things. Rather than making the commitment, the effort, the uncomfortable work, the demanding work of finding new patterns that SUCCEED rather than fail. Over and over again, fail.
No one looks inward and says "I must do better. I must change." Rather, responsibility is cast upon others."
It would help this nation immensely to move forward if its leaders would discover the joys of responsibility achieved rather than try so hard to avoid the shame of responsibility unfulfilled.
- When the Department of Education says "DepEd is responsible for the lousy condition of our schools", instead of blaming the budgeting people, education will improve.
- When the Catholic Church says, we, as moral custodians of the Philippines, are responsible for the poverty and crime here, rather than blaming government for poor economic management, then over-birthing will slow and poverty and crime will abate.
- When the top managers of Customs says "we must end our corruption ourselves", it will stop.
- When the President says we will modernize, then the RH Bill will stop languishing and a divorce bill will be on the front burner. And nepotistic hiring practices will be banned in favor of COMPETENCE.
- When the Chief Justice says "we, the judges, are responsible for the integrity and independence of the courts", rather than blaming the President or those upset with how things are going, then the courts will gain work discipline, respect, and independence.
To change, people far and wide must get disgusted with excuse-making and blames. They need to recognize these destructive traits and condemn them. They must become a hateful practice, these weasely attempts to avoid responsibility.
They are an addiction, and the Philippines is a nation of addicts.
Any time someone inserts a reason that is not directly connected to their own acts, it is most likely an excuse, an irrelevancy, an insistence on not doing the hard work of changing. It is a distraction. It is avoidance. It is shameful.
When Filipinos become skilled at accepting responsibility, the nation will thrive. Wealth will increase, happiness will climb, corruption will drop and things will get done to foster a cleaner, healthier, safer, saner place to live.
p.s., my good wife put a clock in the bathroom this morning.