By Jesus Estanislao
Having participated in several “visioning” exercises for several national government agencies, local government units, and corporations, I am struck by the almost routine and quick adoption of this core value. The expression may vary; but the substance remains. In virtually all instances in these visioning exercises where participants are asked to choose the core values for their enterprise, almost inevitably this one comes out: “love of God and country.”
It speaks to the ideals that many people hold dear: When pressed against the wall, many of us still profess our faith in God; and we express the wish that many more of our fellow citizens would show an operative and genuine care for our country and our people.
Ideals, yes! In practical life and in actual work, most of us may fall way below this core value. Nonetheless, many of us do agree that this is a basic ideal well worth keeping and using as a basic reference for all our long-term plans and programs as well as for our transformative journey towards a “summit” we wish to reach.
In fact, the challenge we have as we put together a national governance program, is to give more flesh and real meat to the common rituals we observe when we have any semi-formal or formal gathering. We pray (and ask God for help), thereby expressing our belief in the one Almighty God. We sing the National Anthem, and thus remind ourselves that we have a country to take care of and build. Thus, “love of God and country” as a core value is embedded in the mind and heart of most of our people; where this value has to sink in much deeper is in the operative will, as we take day-to-day decisions in all the ordinary circumstances of life, from the personal level, through the level of work and the exercise of our profession, and up to acting and deciding on matters with significant consequences on the life of our nation.
Indeed, as we look around and see the many stains in our national life, all too dramatically highlighted by our media, the one recurring theme is the absolute need to return to the values of belief in and love for God, the foundation and ultimate guarantee of all moral behavior, freedom from corruption, respect for human life, observance of the rule of law, and concern for the good of everyone in society. And all these, which should flow out of love for God, would need to find concrete expression in the way we live our life, carry out our work, deal with others, and give due consideration to the needs particularly of the underprivileged, and therefore in the specific ways by which we show our love for country.
Many of us may not have gotten to the level of national consciousness where we equate what is good for us with what is good for the country, and vice versa. There is an even higher level to which we should all aspire: To be willing to sacrifice our narrower personal, sectoral, factional interests for the common good of the country as a whole. Indeed, what makes us proud of the Philippines and of being Filipino would many times entail our having to put in a lot of personal discipline and even a lot of personal sacrifice so that the country would shine forth and flourish.
Core ideals, then, are aspirations. They are not a statement of facts; rather, they are a call to something loftier and grander than we are at the moment. They are a reminder that if we try our very best to observe these core values such that they characterize all the choices we make and the actions we take, then indeed we can bring about the transformative changes we seek in our country.