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It seems power has a way of making leaders deaf. Leaders who ascend to power carrying mottos to be pro-people, pro-God, and pro-poor can become too intoxicated with the trappings of office that the same supposed power for service can lead to some difficulty in hearing. Leaders can indeed be subjected to a barrage of noises that only a discerning person of deep spirituality can handle. Power corrupts, but before it corrupts, it deafens first.
King Solomon’s ascent to the throne was seen by many as the age of glory for Israel. A magnificent temple was built. His wisdom was international news. Culture flourished. Taxes were also raised. The people of the northern part of the kingdom raised a protest against Solomon’s son. Instead of listening to the cry of the poor, he raised the taxes even more and said it would be economic suicide for the kingdom. Sounds familiar?
After a few months, the kingdom was divided and divided irreparably. Of course, many factors contributed to the division, but one of the major reasons is that the power that the king wielded made him complacent, deaf, and stubborn. Power corrupts, but before it does, it first deafens.
It is imperative that leaders listen. To whom? First of all, leaders need to listen to God. Sometimes, we can get too engrossed with problems needing to be solved and puzzles needing to be untangled that we can start to think that we are the savior of those we have been called to lead. No, God is. The real leader of the nation is God, and it is the will of God that leaders should seek in governing the nation. We are not a godless nation. Our nation belongs to God. We need God-like leaders. Leaders need to listen to the people. A pro-God and a pro-people leader is what we ask God to give us. Do you still remember those lines: “Those who have less in life should have more in law?” We need to be an industrialized nation, and we need to see economic growth but economic growth cannot be the focus of a stable nation. The nation will be great if the family, our children, our elderly, our sick, and our poor become the centerpiece of government policies. We might survive economically, but if it would mean losing our respect for human dignity, for what shall we survive?
Cardinal Sin said last February 2: “Without therefore wishing in any way to denigrate the recent gains of our nation in the economic sphere, the light of our Constitution reminds us that economic growth, important as it is, is not at the center of our shared national life. Important are our families, our children, our elderly, our sick, our poor, and our shared human community. Important is that our poor, in the fierce competition of global trade and the maddening pace of development, do not lose sight of their human dignity, continue to participate in our common future, and are not left behind by development. Important is that our decision-makers do not lose sight of our poor and continue to integrate them into the mainstream of national life. Important is that our people, whose majority is still poor, become more productive and more justly compensated in their own land, the home of their families, and their own Filipino languages and cultures. Important is that they never feel crowded out by the domineering culture of the exotic few. Important is that our democracy and its electoral process be jealously safeguarded against its rapists, who must be punished for their truly heinous crimes. Important is that the megalomania of the ambitious is not imposed on the innocence of the many. We must all grow in this spirit of the Constitution. It is in its light that economic growth is necessary and meaningful. We reject economic growth bereft of this light. This we must decide. This we must choose. For this type of growth, we must all lock arms to pay the price.”
After listening to God in prayer, after listening to the cry of the people, the leader should listen to the voice of his own heart. The leader should move from an inner commitment to what is good and act according to a well-formed conscience.
LEADERS SHOULD LISTEN
Jesus Our Light