Stewardship ... of government and environment
By Pol Derilo
Round Rock, Texas
Stewardship is ringing louder nowadays reminding us how vital it is in our lives as ever. Three mission days are currently going on right here in our parish of St. John Vianney. It hopes to refresh and rekindle the gratitude of parishioners towards God, the source of all our blessings.
With faith, we ought to partake our blessings to God as a manifestation of love and gratitude. Gestures need not be done necessarily through the popular and expedient monetary fashion but by sharing the countless ways each one of us is gifted by our Creator. God's gifts come in so many ways and to make our homage profoundly meaningful, we need to choose from those we treasured most instead of the one we needed less, not those that are inferior but the best of the kind that we possess or picking those who are generous instead of those who are covetous.
Blessings and gifts of love are almost always identical and equally true is the responsibility on how we make the most of them. Are they meant to be for ourselves alone or share them with someone else? And just like other gifts, we have the choice to value or squander them. These are individual choices which may apply to personal or delegated capacity by the many. It is at this vantage point where many get disoriented and let private interest takes over the public --where the many lost their share for the sake of the few.
There is a reverberating battle cry now in the U.S. presidential campaign declaring that the government in Washington is broken. It is an alarming phenomenon that is choking the government’s response to the people’s needs. It is becoming a government not by and for the people, but by and for a few people, for those who perceived the possibility of shifting loyalty with multimillion green bucks. Appearing to be the big culprit are ... lobbyists, which means big business and/or big money interest taking over those of the constituents who choose their leaders in the democratic way of the ballots. Then, there is the other question as to how they were reached by the candidates either through the media or by eye to eye discussions in town hall meetings. Again money may have acted shrewder through the prepaid loyalty of supposedly elected leaders. To name a few aftermath of these are high energy costs, regressive taxation, elusive medical care of the marginalized, rising unemployment, continuos degradation of mother earth, and lately the housing and financial institutions going under.
These are glaring samples of derailed government platforms, riding high with hopes during election time but at the same time invisibly doomed with wicked agenda. There may have been a triumph of the best hope but a defeat in the hand of the covetous who succumb to the choice of squandering delegated power. A government is broken when the mandate entrusted to the few by the many for their welfare is not getting done.
The Philippines has its own tragic stewardship of government also. As far as I can recall, unbroken government ended right before Ferdinand Marcos assumed office in 1966. Thereafter, nearly every government successions dug their own pitfall and frustrate the people’s hope. Nearly, all of them let private interest takes over the welfare of the many, the precise reason why poverty level sags opposite the rate of rising population, the reason why in the same speed the country coveted the #1 rank but as the most corrupt in Asia, the same reason why separatist Filipinos keep insisting to secede and establish their own Bansamoro in Mindanao. One may call it oversimplification, but a continuing series of Malacanang and Batasang Bansa occupants allow the country to endure a debilitating cancer for decades and perhaps draining their hopes to a drought condition. Monumental testimony that leaders squandered delegated authority imposed upon them via “vox populi”. But is it also “vox Dei”?
Whether we apply the doctrine or not, fulfillment is the only option to be a true steward, thus obliging the “populi” to realize it. History has shown so far that inherent rights thrive best in the system that we are in. As a good steward, its wholeness ought to be preserved and its integrity protected. We are obliged to remind anyone who threatens its existence or deprives its enjoyment that these gifts will be defended. Otherwise, we will miss the last free shot at the precise crucial moment. We become another number on the losing side. We blinked and lost our sight; we wavered and weaken our character. We were indecisive in tending our gifts.
There is a saying in Texas that goes, “If you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got.” This is like hitting the nail right on its head, the Filipinos both national and personal. Politics and greed across the board are two continuing obsessions that preoccupy everyone to perpetuate their career in government. It has become a lucrative business to some and a reason why dynastical names for some seemed engraved in the ballots every election cycle. And that is what is ever do, done ...as well as ... ever get, got. It takes a pair to tango and therefore both politicians and ‘mamamayan’ reap the jinx of whatever they have been messing. Please, when will one or both of them ever try the idea of changing the music, (but not to cha-cha either) just for the mere fact that only one of them is getting ahead while the other is left behind dragging legs? This is not keeping up with unison, the idea of lifting the spirits of two in one motion, a unified abilities for a common gratitude.
While the big slice of national wealth goes around to only 14% of the wealthy, the remaining 86% wallows at and below the poverty line. Meanwhile, one of its consequence, corruption has metastasize institutions from national down to the barangay. Civil service is no longer a notion anywhere but the other way around everywhere, with some accepting the mode of being referred to as ‘bosing’. Because bureaucracies grow fast at almost every level, simple paper services may take half-day waiting time and extra pesos for fixers and facilitators.
Our local advocacy group Task Force Sierra Madre is confronted with two big issues that it considers a big threat to survival and progress of Real, Infanta and Gen. Nakar (R.I.N.) We are struggling to block a logging concession and the construction of a dam not far from a fault line. With patience and perseverance, organizing, signature campaign, audience with the President, lots of meetings and caucuses, the group is inching ahead to reach its goals. This could have been less difficult if not for the entrenched vested interest in government sectors that insulate these threats from assault of public opposition. Corruption which is a private welfare is getting to be more effective shield than public welfare when it comes to harnessing the bounties of Sierra Madre. Forget the danger of the present generation and the degraded legacy to future generation. If we remain as fence sitters, this will be the fate that awaits the beautiful, bountiful and so much life giving natural treasures of Sierra Madre; the beauty that seems to stoop and watch over her people in R.I.N. how they handle the stewardship of their environment.
Stewardship reminders reach us in different ways and forms just as responses are express in various fashions. Funneling care through this foundation will not diminish in any way the same care bundled up in door-to-door boxes or for stewardship sake expressed in any other way. It is just that everyone acts according to what and how they say they are not stingy. Remember our Lord’s warning about giving in this essence - a penny is worth more if that is all one has to give, than a buck if that is all one has to pull from the heap.