Position available — must qualify
It is the foolishness in people that makes them believe they can control those they elect or anoint.
Consider, for instance, the Israelites who walked and talked with God in the time of Moses. No other nation had a living and active God that lit their way and covered their back, provided food and water in the most impossible situations and actually delivered on his promises of protection, provision and peace.
But instead of staying with a good thing, they decided they wanted what all the other nations or tribes around them had: they wanted a king; someone in the flesh, someone in charge and someone less frightening and explicit in his terms of engagement. God offered predictability, the Israelites opted for uncertainty. When Men play God, people suffer.
The Israelites did it and to this day, we Filipinos are doing it as well but in a far worse manner. Back in Moses’ time they at least still consulted God, appealed to his merciful nature to pick and choose a leader and, as those of you who actually read the Bible like a historical-political thriller that it can be, we all know that no one was ever good enough because of the temptation and weakness of the flesh. But they at least picked God-fearing, good-looking, real warriors.
Nowadays in the Philippines, we have voted for leaders who take the name of God in vain, who speak and act like the anti-Christ himself and equally worse, we have enough clowns to staff an entire circus. We have not yet been presented the total bill or full cost of having elected the bad and the ungodly, but if the United States after Donald Trump is an indicator then pray: “God help us.”
Unless we choose the qualified then we are doomed to be ruled by fools, divided by regions, politics, ignorance and cursed to relapse as the sick man of Asia, assuming our divided society and eroded institutions don’t bring about a civil war or opportunist takeovers by those with guns and tanks.
Yesterday I came across a post on Facebook shared by one “Ronald U. Mendoza,” an academician and reposted by my brother-in-law Coach Eric Altamirano. The article presumably was a historical piece allegedly authored by one of our national heroes Apolinario Mabini a.k.a The Sublime Paralytic a.k.a the brains behind the Philippine Revolution:
“Said Mabini of Aguinaldo: The Revolution failed because it was badly directed, because its leaders won his post not with praiseworthy but with blameworthy acts, because instead of employing the most useful of men of the nation he jealously discarded them. Believing that the advance of the people was no more than his own personal advance, he did not rate men according to their ability, character and patriotism but according to the degree of friendship or kinship binding him to them; and wanting to have favorites willing to sacrifice themselves for him, he showed himself lenient to their faults. Because he disdained the people, he could not but fall like an idol of wax melting in the heat of adversity. May we never forget such a terrible lesson learned at the cost of unspeakable sufferings!”
Then and now the mistakes remain the same and the consequences become even worse. But why is that? Perhaps because we are doing things the wrong way. One would argue that the field or the choices are as limited as the menu in a fast food chain. We are presented candidacy by candidates, we wait for volunteers or interested individuals so that groups like 1Sambayan and the opposition or the political parties can vet, screen or nominate their own. At the end of the line, no real challenge, qualifiers or eliminations took place. We simply have a selection list of “the usual suspects” a.k.a lifelong professional politicians. We need to be logical, intentional and above all extremely careful in our choices and actions and not just rely on unanimous choice or compliance with the ideal by the incompetent or be driven and united by our blind hate or utter disgust for a common enemy.
Good or bad, politics and governance are all about compromise, especially in a Third World country full of competing interests and desperate needs. Choosing a common candidate is only one step of many, choosing a candidate with the qualifications required by the position is a second important step, ensuring public acceptance is third, presenting a candidate to backers, supporters and financiers and getting them to invest is fourth.
Having a candidate who is respected, acknowledge even feared by the flock of fellow politicians is a crucial fifth requirement. Sixth, the candidate must be one accepted in every corridor of power, public and private institutions. Seventh, choose someone with principled courage and not inclined to rage or anger. And number eight, as Mabini pointed out, choose someone with the ability to recognize “the most useful of men of the nation” – “rate men according to their ability, character and patriotism and not according to the degree of friendship.”
Whenever I get into conversations with the politically inclined or self-projecting candidates, I always ask them who would be on your hypothetical list of Cabinet members? The reason is that a list of Cabinet members shows that the “candidate” has thought well and hard and has a plan if not a program, his or her choice of individuals reflect their people skills, qualitative and quantitative standards for a team and if the person actually got into office, will he end up costing us or blessing us as a nation. As the saying goes, you can tell a lot about a person from the company he keeps and as well as his resumé.
Just before COVID-19 became our national warden I regularly met, worked with and worked for very powerful men and women across industries as a crisis manager or communications training consultant. My take away from those many encounters was how the rich and the powerful, the captains of industries all surrounded themselves with highly qualified experts in their respective fields. Not much value was ever given to titles but not a single one of them were so-called “jack of all trades” or multi-taskers. They were all experts and specialists who had networks and alliances built over the years, backed by professional organizations.
Don’t choose or nominate a candidate based on sentimental favoritism, popularity, commercial value or willingness to accommodate or comply. Choose a leader you are willing to follow because he is qualified to lead.
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