This article will consider the following three concepts, applied to the Philippines, as defined in the Humpty Dumpty New World Dictionary:
- Grace. Noun. The state of being kind and helpful toward others, a common application of the spiritual Christian meaning " that which is of God, through Jesus".
- Wisdom. Noun. The uniting of knowledge and perspective to generate an elaborate yet precise understanding of a situation or condition.
- Confidence. Noun. The assurance a person gets from within that he or she can do what needs to be done.
What is the importance of these words? The importance is found in understanding when they exist in Philippine daily living, and when they do not. And when they exist among political leaders . . . and when they do not.
Take the matter of grace. It's meaning derives from religious faith, so it is easily found in Philippine churches. Catholic priests walk in grace within the cathedrals and in the outreach they do to ease the suffering of those in pain. This caretaking is enormously kind and helpful to the Filipino faithful, many of whom do not have much material wealth. They are granted spiritual ease through the grace of the Church.
On the other hand, the priests, bishops and archbishops do not always walk in grace. When they engage in the dirt of political argument, they take positions. Hard positions, in many respects, helpful to some people and harmful to others. The Church is guided by rules, by doctrine. The rules are not elastic, not easily changed. They reflect choices: like the well-being of unborn babies over the well-being of the poor. The Church largely holds itself innocent of any result from its positions, from its doctrine. This is the opposite of grace which requires healthy doses of compassion and kindness and sober acceptance that decision means result. Doctrine that is imposed without responsibility is not grace.
Grace need not be a strictly religious term. Cory Aquino walked in grace because she was a fundamentally kind woman. We know now that Jesse Robredo worked and walked in grace, aware of the importance of living by high-principled rules of fairness and kindness and honesty. He was rare. Most of us slog and connive and are weak of principle, taking advantage of circumstances and using others.
Grace has a kind of innocence attached to it. Or maybe purity is a better word. Honesty and kindness. Simplicity and empathy.
We all have a little of it, I suspect. We live it best in church.
Perhaps we should figure out how to walk in grace outside the church, too.
And perhaps Philippine political leaders should understand what faith REALLY means. Not use it as a marketing tool to secure votes.
I am reminded of basketball in the Philippines. The kids work hard on what I would call showboat dribbling, the fancy-pants ball-handling aimed to impress. They enjoy the one-on-one face-off with the defender. They love taking him off the dribble and making him look the fool. It's all macho. Skill, for sure.
But they can't shoot a bank shot. Can't score the points.
The goal is not finding facts, or dribbling.
The goal is finding knowledge, or scoring points. That is the distinction between ignorance and knowledge.
Wisdom is yet one step further than knowledge. It is found in comprehending that the score does not matter. How the game is played matters.
Wisdom is a very special enhancement of facts. It finds the deeper meanings. It is a rare quality of knowledge that is expert at assessing context and the intricate dimensions of smart. It takes a few knowns and unknowns and molds them into profound and useful meaning.
I suppose the opposite of a wise persona is a one-dimensional persona. Or a reactive persona, one that defines its context by what has already happened rather than identifying the possibilities and risks looking forward. Rather like the Philippines deals with storms. After the damage and death, some of which may have been preventable if storm preparation were wiser.
I personally think wisdom is partially genetic; the brain has to be wired correctly. And it is partly learned, the skills of observation, deduction and logic, where logic includes an assessment of the risks of various choices. It also requires a softer quality of heart or compassion or spirit.
Readers Coco and Edgar Lores wrote that Philippine governing skills lack any special knowledge or capability. Dynasty-style governance is power that promotes and protects power. It lacks wisdom and utility. Lacks problem-solving that works in a determined way to take care of the Philippines.
It is understandable that the poor are practical and reactive. It is not understandable that self-proclaimed leaders would fail to acquire the wisdom needed to properly care for their nation.
In college I studied Radio and Television Arts at the University of Southern California. One of the professors was a man named Ed Borgers. Dr. Borgers looked a little like a truck driver, paunchy, big belly, tie too small resting on that big belly, sleepy-eyed, wandering around in front of the class stroking his chin and pondering before speaking. Each word measured and meaningful. He was a genius at seeing relationships and context.
The good Doctor argued that every expression contains three qualities: direction, weight and intensity.
Might we apply these dimensions to confidence? Direction is the outward act, purposeful and certain as to success. Weight is the amount of certitude. We can be absolutely convinced that we will achieve the goal. Or we can pray for the best in uncertain circumstances but proceed as if we know it will succeed. And intensity would be the effort we put into following through to make sure of success, the determination to overcome barriers that arise, without losing grasp of our assurance.
I recognize certitude in the Pilippines. Lots of ego and stubbornness. But many people seem to LACK confidence and use certitude as its proxy. Shout loud enough and people will become convinced that you know what you are talking about. Say often enough that something should be done "because I say it should be done", not because it is the right thing to do, and it will be done.
The RH Bill is stalled right now because two views are at loggerheads. The view of the Catholic Church and the view of Women's Rights advocates. Backers of both are absolutely convinced they are right. And therefore, will not bend.
Given those closed views, neither can possibly be confident they can accomplish what the Philippines needs. Confidence requires a comprehension that there is no one single path to achievement. It requires comprehension that problems will arise. That circumstances change. That give is as important as get.
A confident person would understand that either extreme is not the goal. The goal is a program that (1) promotes health care that is sensitive to the values of the Philippines and (2) builds values in the Philippines that are sensitive to the health of its citizens.
Values are not cement. They can change. They can be changed by confident people. Flexibility is an important part of confidence.
Philippine leaders do not exude confidence, I think. They exude bluster which is one part braggadocio and one part excuse-making. Hubris is a confidence of Ego, not a confidence of accomplishment.
Grace, Wisdom, Confidence
Each requires the other.
Philippine democracy, to be deep, rich and successful, requires all.