THE LEGACY OF GOVERNMENT
I was never a nihilist nor a pessimist. In fact, I would more call myself as an objectivist, following a simple precept – Man can do better, if he sheds off the ties from which his predatory nature causes him to prey on others. With this, I felt quite comfortable and safe as I go through the daily rigors of life. I pretty much avoid political topics, as they are traps for useless banter and philosophical allegories.
The other day, in a retreat for graduating college students, fielded a question from the outfield. Understandably since the country is going through a national political exercise, the questions along this subject was anticipated, but not expected. Who is my presidential choice and why?
I wanted to dodge the question, not because I don’t have an answer, but mainly because I haven’t made up my mind. But, as innocent as the question was, it is like a loaded gun that can explode at my face, whether I answer it or not. Thus, after a moment of contemplation, I decided to form my reply.
I honestly told them, I haven’t made up my mind, and the only answer I can give, for them to seek answers based on what and who they think is best. I knew the follow-up question would be – how. This brought me to a situation that I hoped I could avoid. But, as I was already soaked, as a saying goes, it’s time to get wet. I gave them how I look at it.
The government has one simple job to do – protect and support the welfare of the people. That is basically it…! The many agencies and offices of government is to provide the mechanism and process so government can effectively deliver its job. There are a lot of thing that government must do and must not do. However, since the time when government were created, the concept of subjugation has always been the main principle of the so called leaders, with the citizens being docile and willing participants to this.
The interpretation of laws, the manipulation of taxes, the allocation of monies, and even the appointment of people to sensitive positions where sole authorities given to our leaders. The right to be pampered and treated like kings and queens, are more often the rule and not the exception. So much so that the people to which these services are intended, as per the mandate of the law, are often sacrificed in the altar of “leadership convenience”.
However, it is unclear whether the rules on these perks are written, or are they subsumed to be part of the deal? Nobody knows, because inspite of the multitudinous laws and rules, there was never a clear rule on etiquette for elected and appointed officials. Rules are made by the leaders as they go along – as in wars, the spoils go to the victor.
All nations, including the Philippines, have always been strong, by its natural resources, but the industry and resilience, and the spirit of its people. That strength is not debatable or questionable. What weakens a country is the way the laws are interpreted. Lee Kwan Yu of Singapore, proved that if a leader puts his feet firmly and detaches himself from political strings, a nation can move faster towards self-sustainability.
This being so, the weakness of government, is not on the delivery of service, but in our selection of the people who we task to deliver those services. It goes without saying the, that – we deserve the government we get, because it is our choice.
And then we say, we did not expect this person to be like this when we voted him or her. Herein goes the age old chicken and egg question – is it the system corrupting the person or the person corrupting the system? Then again, we say, an incorruptible person, no matter where you place him will remain pure. Oh, really?
The truth is whenever a person owes something to another, that alone becomes a weakness of the person. A leader may maintain his innocence in matters that he doesn’t know, but people to whom he owed a debt, will soon find themselves in positions where the lure and temptation of hanky-panky will eventually lead them to use the markers that a leader owes them. In response, then the leader plays the 3-monkey game: Hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil.
If any government really wants to deliver the services due to the people, from whom their existence is derived, the leader must have the will to defy what is called as “political normal”. A leader must be willing to lose his friends and even become a pariah among the people who spent money for his ascendancy. But, who wants to be that person?
This is the sole reason of the campaign and the election, for people to know and be sure. So people can discern who is best to lead them. Lead them where? To a vision- a clear, achievable and realizable future. Based on what is real, what is here and what is now. Political rhetoric and propaganda are useless means of convincing us. We have to know, we have to study and be sure – not just for us but for everyone.
The selection maybe our individual acts, but the effect of which covers everyone. Satisfying ourselves because we got personal gain; leaning on personal friendships; or concepts of achievement; popularity and fame; and affiliations, may be good, but the basis of selection should be not we wants for ourselves – but what we all want. For a leader is not just there for you, but for everyone.
As I concluded, I simply said – “look at yourselves now, and imagine yourselves 6 years from now – where do you want yourselves to be? Do you want to be standing in the same place? Would you want to move 10 paces or would you want to be kilometers from where you are now? And, where do you want others to be?
The answer is in the name we write in our ballots! That is our legacy and the legacy of the government we chose.