Spotting greed and rejecting it outright
How To Spot Greed and Reject its Snare
By Ronilo D. Perez
Man's greediness is as old as Creation itself. Some scholars even believe that it dates back even before the Fall of Man. The Sacred Writings have recounted that an archangel's own envy tempted him to desire God's Throne. That Archangel had been given one of the highest position in heaven, second only to St. Michael the Archangel. But despite of that privilege, this archangel aspired to usurp God's Throne by force and enthrone himself, as he wanted to take that Glory that is rightfully and inherently ascribed to Almighty God . This is what we call 'the lust for power.'
What came next as a result of this simmering, uncontrollable desire in the archangel was the first rebellion in the heavens. It is actually the first-ever coup d'e- tat ever recorded. And as expected, that well-crafted rebellion was crushed, resulting into an unprecedented disaster, the likes of which we have never experienced before nor can we ever experience it in our lifetime. The coup failed. That renegade archangel, along with one-third of rogue angels in heaven, were thrown into an endless abyss, down headlong in the lake of fire. The rest is history.....
Viewed in today's context, this so-called lust for power is, more often than not, associated with political power whether you are serving in government or in the business community. Notwithstanding its complexities, we are clearly intrigued by the nuances between corporate politics and so-called politics in the governmental sphere. Let me delve first with what is going on in the governmental realm. Government officials, from the lowest position of authority to the highest position in governmental hierarchy, wield political power and thus exerts considerable authority in various facets of government-related affairs.
They tend to leverage their position of authority to acquire more wealth in order to enrich themselves while they are in office. Thus we see many stories of "rags- to- riches" as far as public officials are concerned, especially those elected officials whose political careers rise to levels of prominence. Thus we see the prevalence of political patronages in many spheres of politics. In Philippine politics, we see the proliferation of government officials from the mayors, governors going up the political ladder to congressmen, senators who are patrons or benefactors of many cause-oriented groups especially non-governmental institutions (NGOs).
Unfortunately, these non-government organizations(NGOs), who support cause-oriented undertakings usually with socio-economic benefits to the marginalized sectors of society, are simply being used as conduits of public funds with the intent of diverting such funds to further the vested interests of unscrupulous politicians or to aggrandize their sphere of influence in politics. This is all done to perpetuate themselves in power all for the sake of establishing their political dynasty. Hence, we see the proliferation of political dynasties in all provinces and cities in the country.
Nowadays, the wielding of political power, in all levels of authority in government whether occupying elected position or otherwise, boils down to the accumulation of personal wealth to make themselves richer, more prosperous at the expense of public welfare. Thus we have this distorted view of political power. It has lost the essential meaning of what real public service is all about. Instead of helping alleviate poverty or of providing much-needed assistance to the majority of the population who are mired in dire conditions, they view public service as a means of acquiring more wealth and exert undue influence over their constituents.
From the moralist's standpoint, whatever is the advocacy or political persuasion of those in power, real public service should boil down to the time-tested principle of uplifting the common good of the people whom they are mandated to serve. Notwithstanding these ethical standards, these crooked politicians use government funds to bankroll projects that do not redound to the benefit of the common good of the Filipinos. These are simply 'ghost' projects or what they call 'white elephants' undertakings or in layman's term, 'grossly overvalued projects' that could hardly benefit their constituents.
What is popularly known as "pork-barrel fund" has now become a menacing public scam. Its flagrant misuse of public funds is so shameful that foreign observers believe that our political system has reached the apex of avarice. The magnitude or proportion of the anomaly on how our politicians are using taxpayers' money to advance their personal interests are so glaring that no amount of cover-up could hide it from in-depth public scrutiny. Unequivocally, this is tantamount to 'lust for wealth and its trappings.' As one political analyst averred about the deliberate mismanagement of public funds, 'we have never seen the likes of which since the martial law era in our country.'
The same is true in corporate politics. We see and hear the downfall of business empires or conglomerates because of the greediness of a handful of men in the top echelon of their business enterprise. We are so appalled to hear multinational corporations crumbled to the ground unexpectedly, so to speak and we gasped for our breath as we see them filing for bankruptcy/ receivership after enjoying decades of prosperity, even corporate entities making it to Forbes list as one of the top one-thousand corporations in the world are not immune to this corporate crumbling. One thing is certain. Greed or avarice, whatever name you call it, could topple down empires, leaving tens of thousands of people unemployed and thus multiplying the number of job seekers who desperately need jobs for their survival in this ruthless world of politics and business.
What should be done to address the seemingly insurmountable problem that has beset our government or private sector? Do we have the resolve to launch a resolute crusade to stamp out greediness in our midst? To put all these factors in their proper perspective, one expert calls for ' a paradigm shift' to change our mindset. We must transform our insatiable desire and propensity to amass a great deal of wealth into the simple concept of "stewardship".
'Stewardship' means believing in the adage that affirms: "we are not the owners of the wealth we have or could still have in this world but rather we are just merely 'stewards."
By definition, a steward is a person who has been placed in charge of the properties or wealth of another. Viewed in proper perspective, one can reach the irrefutable conclusion that 'everything you see in this world is not yours to use to further your vested interests.'
Armed with this truth, we should inculcate in our minds 'the culture of stewardship' in this world. The wealth we have is not ours but rather it is something entrusted to us to be used wisely for the good of the people around us. Unless and until we see ourselves as 'stewards' of the wealth around us, no amount of regulations or action plans could deter unscrupulous persons from executing their diabolical schemes to acquire wealth all at the expense of the downtrodden and underprivileged sectors of society.
A similar ethical prescription can be applied to public officials. They should view themselves as public servant in the strictest sense of that word. A real public servant is a selfless, self-sacrificing public official who makes it his or her calling to wash the feet of his/her constituents, that is, to serve the people who entrusted their welfare to him/her through the electoral process they have submitted themselves to.
Business leaders or politicians alike should not lord it over their subordinates or constituents but rather serve them in all sincerity and honesty in order to leave behind a legacy of peace and prosperity in their lifetime.