Valuable counsel from Noy’s elders
UNSOLICITED ADVICE: Here is hoping that incoming president Noynoy Aquino has not grown deaf with advice whipping him from all directions on how to manage himself and this country of more than 90 million hanging on the thread of rising expectations.
For today, we turn to two octogenarians for counsel: Pope Benedict XVI, who discussed the predicament of Christian politicians, and writer F. Sionil Jose, who offered Aquino advice that some of us have refrained from giving for fear of being misunderstood.
* * *
RELATIVISM: As a people forever engrossed in politics (and showbiz), it may be a good thing to listen to the Holy Father explain how democracy has weakened as a result of relativism and individualism.
No, the Pope was not making a dig at relatives in the local “kamaganak” sense but at moral relativity that many politicians often use to justify conduct that may be unacceptable in a stricter ethical setting.
Noting that Christian politicians face an “exacting challenge,” the Pope affirmed that genuinely Christian politicians are necessary. But even more necessary, he added, are laymen who give witness to Christ.
The Pontiff made the remarks last Friday in his address at the Vatican before the 24th plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
* * *
CHRIST-CENTERED: Taking off from the makeup of the assembly, the Pope reflected on the community that is the Church, “whose common priesthood, proper of the baptized faithful, and the ordained priesthood, sink their roots in the one priesthood of Christ, according to essentially different modalities, but ordered one to the other.”
The Pontiff then discussed the theme of the assembly, which was the witnessing to Christ in politics.
The theme underlines the oft-misunderstood moves of the Church as shepherd to the flock to put Christ back into the realm of human conduct, to inject morality into politics without meaning to violate the principle of separation of Church and State.
The mission of the Church, the Holy Father said, is to “give a moral judgment to things of the political order, whenever this is required by the fundamental rights of the person and the salvation of souls.”
* * *
CHRISTIAN POLS: Benedict XVI said the laity — and that includes politicians — must show how “faith enables one to read reality in a new and profound way and to transform it.”
He said the laity also must show that Catholic social principles “such as the dignity of the human person, subsidiarity and solidarity, are very timely and of value for the promotion of new ways of development at the service of every man and of all men.”
Politics is an opportunity for charity, he stressed. This “asks Christians for a strong commitment to the citizenry, for the construction of a good life in nations….”
“Genuinely Christian politicians are necessary, but even more so lay faithful that are witnesses of Christ and of the Gospel in the civil and political community,” the Pope said. “A real ‘revolution of love’ is necessary.”
* * *
CHOICE CUTS: The unsolicited advice of F. Sionil Jose came out last Sunday in the form of an open letter in his Hindsight column in the Philippine Star.
I liked it because it articulated many of the things that some writers with ties to the Aquinos are hesitant to tell Noynoy and his family for fear of being misunderstood.
Here are choice cuts from the 580-word open letter:
* First, I must remind you of the stern reality that your drumbeaters ignore: you have no noble legacy from your forbears. It is now your arduous job to create one yourself in the six years that you will be the single most powerful Filipino. Six years is too short a time — the experience in our part of the world is that it takes at least one generation… for a sick nation to recover and prosper. But you can begin that happy process of healing.
* The past weighs heavily on all of us because of the many contradictions in it that we have not resolved, whose resolutions would strengthen us as a nation. This past is now your burden, too. Let us start with the fact that your grandfather collaborated with the Japanese. Your father was deeply aware of this, its stigma, its possibilities.
* Beware of hubris; you are surrounded by panderers who will tell you what is nice to hear. You need to be humble always and heed your conscience.
* Remember, the poor — some of them in your own hacienda — will be your ultimate judge.
* From your comfortable and privileged cocoon, you know so little of our country and people. Seek the help of the best — and the best do not normally want to work in government and neither will they approach you. You have to seek them.
* Be the revolutionary your father wanted to be and don’t be scared or wary of the word “revolution.” It need not be always bloody. EDSA-I was not. Your father wanted to destroy the most formidable obstacle to our progress — the Oligarchy to which you and your family belong. To succeed, you have to betray your class. If you cannot smash the oligarchy, at least strive to have their wealth develop this country, that they bring back the billions they stashed abroad.
* Prosecute the crooks. It is difficult, thankless and even dangerous to do this. Your mother did not do it — she did not jail Imelda who was the partner in that conjugal dictatorship that plundered this nation. Watch her children — they were much too young to have participated in that looting, but they are heirs to the billions which their parents stashed abroad.