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New Year & life advice for P-Noy, Poe, Binay, Duterte, Mar, Miriam from Cicero |

Sunday Lifestyle

New Year & life advice for P-Noy, Poe, Binay, Duterte, Mar, Miriam from Cicero

WILL SOON FLOURISH - Wilson Lee Flores - The Philippine Star

Today is the 2,122nd birth anniversary of one of the greatest persons in Western civilization whom I admire, the inspiration for Europe’s 14th century Renaissance, Roman philosopher and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Let me share some of his wise words from two millenia ago. These are ideal words not only for our leaders but for all of us:

1. Moderation in all things. Don’t be greedy, whether in work, power, our diet, pleasures — in everything let us be moderate. Cicero advised: “Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide.”

2. Avoid six mistakes: seeking to destroy others in order to win, worrying, believing in “impossible,” trvialities, not developing the mind and obstinacy. When I see these “six mistakes” so often committed by us humans repeatedly, I can’t help but think that some politicians seemingly seek to push themselves up as leaders of the Philippines by destroying others in a cynical, zero-sum game mindset. Agree?

“Six mistakes mankind keeps making century after century:

Believing that personal gain is made by crushing others;

Worrying about things that cannot be changed or corrected;

Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it;

Refusing to set aside trivial preferences;

Neglecting development and refinement of the mind;

Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.”

3. Nurture friendships to be happy. For our psychological, emotional and physiological health as well as professional and business well-being, let us heed the advice of Cicero on the importance of friendship. Cicero said: “Friendship improves happiness, and abates misery, by doubling our joys, and dividing our grief.” He also said: “Life is nothing without friendship.” Warning: Let us choose friends with positive influence on us!

4. “The greater the difficulty, the greater the glory.” Let us not fear hardships or struggles; in fact I believe the sweetest victories in life are those that are the most hard-fought. One of the Philippines’ top billionaires told me that he is wary of get-rich quick stories, that he observed many people who gained fortunes easily, and they tend to easily lose them, too!

5. The end does not justify the means. Cicero said: “What is morally wrong can never be advantageous, even when it enables you to make some gain that you believe to be to your advantage. The mere act of believing that some wrongful course of action constitutes an advantage is pernicious.”

 6. Remember lessons of history, honor the past. “To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?”

7. Believe in ourselves. Let us have confidence by improving our sense of self-esteem, by studying and preparing ourselves to be better. I believe the Spanish and even the American colonizers have culturally bludgeoned or brainwashed people in the Philippines to think less of themselves, claiming that the Westerners govern better as their pretext for colonial rule. Let us reverse this negative attitude they have long inculcated!

Cicero advised: “If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you have started.”

8. “Read to lead.” Cicero said: “Read at every wait; read at all hours; read within leisure; read in times of labor; read as one goes in; read as one goest out. The task of the educated mind is simply put: read to lead.”  Reading can nurture leaders and encourage ordinary folks to subvert the unjust status quo.

How come our post-colonial Filipino political leaders — almost like our Spanish colonizers who didn’t promote mass education — have not gone out of their way to promote reading books, newspapers and magazines as a national habit? When you go to other East Asian societies — from Seoul, Taipei, Singapore to Shanghai — you’ll see ordinary folks reading books and newspapers in buses and subways. Let us promote reading more.

9. Be cautious with what we say. Like time, words we say can no longer be taken back. This is a good reminder of Cicero to many of us — especially blabbermouth politicos who often seem to shamelessly talk faster than they can think. Cicero admonished: “If we are not ashamed to think it, we should not be ashamed to say it.”

 10. “The life of the dead is set in the memory of the living.” I remember these words of Cicero as a reminder for us not to grieve forever for those who died, but to let their memories live on in our acts, our words, our ideas which reflect their ideals and aspirations.

Last Nov. 27, at the eulogy night for the late brilliant nationalist intellectual and philosopher Antonio “Tony” Pangilinan (first cousin of business leader Manny V. Pangilinan and distant cousin of Senator Kiko Pangininan) at Maria de la Strata Church in Quezon City, fellow Diliman Book Club member Herman Tiu Laurel and others paid tribute to him, so that he shall live on through his ideas and his ideals.

On Dec. 28 at the tribute night for the late Philippine Daily Inquirer editor-in-chief Letty Jimenez Magsanoc (who published an essay of mine, when I was a student, in Panorama magazine which she used to edit) at Heritage Park in Taguig City, the singer Gary Valenciano recounted an unscheduled tour of the Ninoy museum conducted by former president Cory C. Aquino who chanced upon him playing golf with friends at the Hacienda Luisita golf course in Tarlac.

When they were at the exhibit with the bloodied clothes of her late husband Senator Ninoy Aquino, Gary asked her: “Tita, do you still miss him?” He was surprised that, after a pause, Cory replied: “No.” She explained that she no longer missed him after she saw how other people had continued to live by his ideals and dreams through their lives.

Let us all remember those who died by continuing their ideas, values and ideals.

11. Lead a life of gratitude, remember to say thank you.” Cicero said: “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”

12. Live our lives for others. I fervently believe in this idea that we are given this short, fleeting life here on earth not just to gratify ourselves, or to satiate our wants and egos, but primarily to be of service to others. Cicero said in Latin: “Non nobis solum nati sumus (Not for ourselves alone are we born).”

13. Seek not a rich or long life, but a well-spent and honorable life! I have just rephrased what Cicero said over 2,000 years ago:  “The life given us, by nature, is short; but the memory of a well-spent life is eternal.”

I believe this: that I should not seek a life of comfort and happiness, that true happiness shall come from a life of meaning and integrity, of continuous struggles for self-improvement and service to others. Let us make this world a better place!

14. “While there’s life, there’s hope.” This timeless and wise piece of advice from Cicero should encourage and inspire all of us to never ever give up hope as long as we are alive, especially those who are suffering pain, fear, doubt or despair. There is always hope for a better tomorrow! 

15. Next to God we are nothing. To God we are everything.” These words of Cicero should humble us to think beyond this life, to always pray and have steadfast faith!

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