Love, respect, stewardship, I

Walk the thought, 2007-08 No. 3

If only people knew to love more, give more respect, be more responsible, then we will have a better Philippines–now, that’s commonplace knowledge, you say. Why the cliché?

Because it has grown trite and we (adults?) have grown weary. Desensitized, numbed, by the monotonous yet persistent ration of stories about people who work in public service institutions that fail us, who live in neighborhoods close to ours and betray us, who drive on the same streets we take and harm us. We are learning to mouth the same predictable complaints about anyone and anything in this country. There is even money in news of misfortune! No wonder our lives have become clichéd.

If you had less than five hours to ask 50 University of the Philippines students what three core things are essential to grant them their vision of a better country, what do you think would they say?

“Love, respect and stewardship,” they told me. “And ‘I’ in each, from inside out,” I added.

I will love others without their names and titles and pass their made-up faces or recycled clothes; love them more simply than their achievement or more eloquently than the absence of it; love them more intricately than the dialects they speak and love them farther than the communities they live in or live without.

I can only love that way if I look at myself and each person as a spiritual being created with all of God’s virtues. Rooted in the thought that greed, pride, violence, and hatred were never really part of our nature, I can love them without pretensions and expectations. I will start by loving myself in the same manner.

Once I can love myself that way, then I can live and work with others without desiring recognition, esteem or applause. My self-respect is not found on the externalities of life—the framed certificates, the insulting remarks, the limelight of fame, fluctuating quality of staff work, a seat in the Association, fixed assets on foreign land, or even basketball championships!

My self-respect stands firmly on the consciousness of who I truly am—-a child of God, a soul. I know to whom I belong. No one and nothing else can complete me because I am already full and overflowing with God’s peace, purity, love, bliss and compassion! Then, I will be able to respect others despite their mistakes or my inadequacies, or our ideological and political differences. When I cease to seek for respect, then respect will follow like a shadow.

I will be a steward of the duties assigned to me and perform them with integrity and focus. My courses or work will have a sense of purpose. I have rights I enjoy but also responsibilities to fulfill as a professional, business person, family member, volunteer or citizen.

Without pride or arrogance, I will enthusiastically enjoin others–the street vendors, public school teachers, farmers, or the Aeta families-—to build a better country, believing that they have many worthwhile things to contribute.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

Copyright 2007-2008

How are you loving yourself and others? What is your self-respect based on? As a volunteer, how effective have you been as a steward of the tasks and resources in front of you?

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