Monday, February 23, 2009

Love as Public Service and Public Policy

Perhaps it is all those crummy plots of romantic telenovelas that have inundated our daily lives which has given us the stereotype definition of love. Love is basically comprehended as magically romantic---until we hear of the next celebrity break-up anyway.

How many poets have declared that they have become too sick of love? The same malady hits me too at times, until I recall that love is not a feeling more than it is rendering sincere service to those who need it the most.

Should there be any handbook for public service and public policy, I dare say that St.Paul's First Corinthians is the perfect handbook for serving the public. Historically, he was writing to a rather disorganized Christian community who were basically oppressed, persecuted, poor and were the "outcasts" of the elite Roman society.

Love is patient and kind. Paul laid his public policy of tolerance and empathy.He ordered that "his people" understand that living in a specific community where everyone was constrained to share everything meant that there will always be differences. Or quarrels. Or different points of view between individuals.

Love is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated,it is not rude.It does not seek its own interests.Love is not quick-tempered nor does it brood over injury.

Basically, this is a call for civility, good conduct and treating everyone in the community equally while understanding their specific needs. It is a voice of leadership that cries out: "Let's feed the hungry or better yet, give him/him work so that he shall not have to stay hungry. Let's take collective action and forget ourselves for a while and get into volunteerism because we are ALL part of the same community. To improve our community we MUST improve the LOT of individuals, we must try and repair broken lives if we must. We have to bury the petty bitterness of the past that keeps us divided and thus, paralyzed by fear to do good.

Love does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Any public policy which does not render justice to whom it is due is a failed policy from the start. Any great leader will tell you so, and admittedly, this nation has yet to produce one who is in the same league as Ghandi who said "An eye for an eye will make us all blind". Or Winston Churchill, who despite his human flaws, knew that "Responsibility is the only price of greatness."

We do not create great communities by building walls in a paranoid attempt to protect us and our properties. We cannot build great communities without first building GOOD communities. We cannot protect the little or great wealth we have by clinging to it in fear without remembering the One who said : "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required" (Luke 12:48)

The best leadership example was set by one who started with a rough gang of twelve whom the elites of His period called "sinners and wine gobblers". These were not exactly an educated band of brothers. They were as regular as the next balut-vendor, except that they balut-vendor today probably owns a cellphone. They never traveled to avail of a Greek or Roman education, they only vastly improved human civilization.

The cry of the world today is "Change!". The same cry for change has brought about the French Revolution and a relatively better world view that all men and women are born with certain inalienable rights such as life, liberty, equality the right to individual happiness. Sadly, even such a noble revolution devoured its own children.

Consider this short quote:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

---W. H. Auden

Everything starts from the smallest community, for without communities, there would be no state. Perhaps, the leadership manuals of the world should be rewritten in line with St. Paul's message to the Corinthians. Some will reason that public policy should be tough and there is no place for "love" in genuine leadership. I say NO. I vehemently disagree because leadership is not taking the reins - people aren't horses.They are lives to be nurtured, souls to be restored, individuals whose voices should be heard and hungry crying babies (living in the womb or outside of it) who should know that there is always hope forever served as our cup runneth over to their rescue because we are Filipinos whose core value is to love.

I dream of such a community one day and those who will dare share my dream.