Sunday, July 1, 2012

Instituting Grassroots Moral Leadership

Dr. Romulo G.Bautista, Ph.D.
Social Ethics Society


Philosophy teachers from various schools in Mindanao have organized themselves into a Social Ethics Society, in order to help solve and/or bring the moral aspect of socio-political-economic problems for solution to political leaders of Mindanao. The Social Ethics Society laments the fact that the elite leadership of democracy in Mindanao has not done enough to improve the socio-economic fortune of the poor in the rural and in the urban areas. In terms of real income, the poor are even poorer today than they were in previous years.

Empty of moral component, the political leadership of the elite few is passed from one elite group to another elite group. Contrary to the republican vision of our Constitution, the elite leaders used their delegated authority from the voters who are mostly poor, to further their vested interests at the expense of the best interests of the poor. In view of the 2013 election, it is time for Social Ethics Society to teach, educate, and enlighten voters at the grassroots communities of the importance of morality in the 2013 election toward the improvement of their fortunes. Toward this end, this paper proposes the undertaking of grassroots-based projects.

Rationale of the Project

No theory of Social Ethics can operate in a vacuum in the real world. Its abstract theory has to be always validated, verified and/or practiced in concrete situations in the real world. Likewise, the Social Ethics Society could not pursue its philosophical vision, mission, and goal in a vacuum beyond the classroom, but always in given situations in the real world.

In my various roles, I have been a member of professional, civic, athletic, social, and religious organizations. But I have never been a member of any organization in my role as philosopher. Let me explain with an analogy. An economics graduate who works as bus driver is not an economist in the true sense of the word; a political science graduate who works as artist in an advertising firm is not a political scientist in the true sense of the word. Likewise, a philosopher who works as a community organizer is not a philosopher in the true sense of the word. A community organizer as such has a different objective from that of a philosopher as such.

The mission of Social Ethics Society is to get its members involved as philosopher to address the ethical and moral dimensions of social problem and issues in the real world. The grassroots programs and projects of the Society would be its vehicles to carry out its vision, mission, and goal.

Preamble and Article II of the Constitution

The Preamble and Article II provide the basic foundation, the framework, and the leeway for the undertakings of Social Ethics Society.

The Preamble enshrines the moral ideals which the Society shall pursue. It reas in part as follows: “We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society . . . secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of . . . democracy under . . . a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate” the following Article..

Article II, Section I on Principles

The Article embodies the operational framework of the Filipino people in pursuing their moral ideals of the Constitution. It reads as follows: “The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and government authority emanates from them.”

The Article underlies the basic duties of Filipinos in a democratic and republic State in the pursuit of their basic moral ideals. It embodies the source of their constitutional rights and the general direction of their constitutional duties.

Together, the Preamble and Article II constitute the basic foundation of grassroots moral leadership as envisioned in the project.

Explanatory Notes on Constitutional Provisions

The Constitution neither defines the existential meanings of moral ideals nor dictates the existential structures of a democratic and republican State wherein Filipinos should pursue their moral ideals in the real world. I look at the moral ideals of Filipinos and at the ideal democratic and republican from the view of a ‘mix’ of “moderate idealism and “moderate materialism”. In other words, I consider moral ideals and ideal structures as grounded in the material needs of the human being. And there is a hierarchy of human needs, the most basic of which are physiological needs of food, clothing, and shelter. And many of those at the poverty line and below are wanting of these basic needs.

I am sure that the common tao at the grassroots community know and understand the ideal meanings of “truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace”, but they also know that in reality there is disunity between knowledge of moral ideals and their existential practice. In reality, our moral ideals do not jibe at times with our moral practices. The disunity is due, to a large extent, to the ambiguity of moral ideals viewed inter-subjectively from different, even conflicting, moral and ethical stands in the 21st century.

“People” is ambiguous in the context of democracy understood as ‘power of the people, by the people, and for the people’ as situated and viewed in the real world. “People” in the phrase “power of the people” does not refer to power of the people as corporate nation of 80 millions people, but it refers to authority delegated to duly elected political leaders by people as registered voters which is not even half ot the corporate nation. Given our present multi-party system, the votes, for example, of each elected national officials do not even represent 10% of the corporate nation. Hence, the principle that “sovereignty resides in the people and government authority emanates from them” actually means that sovereignty resides in the registered voters and all government authority emanates from them’’, not emanating from the “people as corporate nation”. “For the people” means that the duly elected leaders should use their delegated authority to further the best interests of the people as corporate nation.

The term ‘republic’ (res publica in Latin) refers to goal of democracy which is the ‘common good of the people’. In the context of democracy, republic means that “power from people as voters” should be used for the “common good of people as corporate nation.” “Power by the people” refers to “use of power from the “people as voters” which might benefit the best interests of “people as corporate nation or interests of “elite few people.”, depending whether the actual mode of democracy is popular or elite..

Moreover the Constitution does not define the modes and existential structures of our ‘democracy” and our “republic” and how government authority should emanate from the people and how authority should be exercise for the people

The voters do exercise their power to vote the elective officials of their choice, but they exercise no power in respect to legislation and implementation of laws. Unfortunately, bribery and corruption have crept into the election of public officials, thus we have instances where the results of the elections are not credible thereby making questionable, if not incredible, the moral leadership of those elected.

Source of Power of Moral Leadership

The average Filipinos normally understand leadership as attached to a position. A Provincial Governor and a Dean of a University are conventionally looked upon as leaders. Both are leaders by virtue of their positions. And both positions have the possibility of developing leadership skills of the incumbents and of being recognized as leaders. Nevertheless, there are people in formal organization who do not occupy managerial positions; nonetheless they are recognized as leaders. Typical example is leaders of labor union within the company. These leaders are recognized as people who provide leadership for them in a particular situation, regardless of what official roles they have..

I believe that every person, whether he occupies an exulted position or not, is a leader in his own right, provided he inspires his self, me, and others, takes an interest in his self, in me, and in others as persons, and who works with his self, with me, and with others to achieve a commonly shared vision or goal. Said differently, any one can be a leader provided he has a position of power. Power emanates from different sources, among which, are the following:

• Position in the organization
• Personality – our own which is independent of position
• Skills and knowledge

How you use power, not its source, is the most important issue about power. This is the essence of my idea of moral leadership at the grassroots democracy.