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Change should start with us, not just with President Duterte |

Sunday Lifestyle

Change should start with us, not just with President Duterte

WILL SOON FLOURISH - The Philippine Star

Is it true that Davao City’s most popular fruits in its local markets are no longer pomelo and durian, but the multiple-faced balimbing (“star fruit” in English) due to numerous politicians and tycoons going there to change or switch political allegiances?

Seriously, President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte has become the personification of change — from his wearing a Philippine flag on his lapel instead of any partisan symbols, his no-holiday and austere inaugural, his tough anti-crime and serious anti-corruption crusade, his daring choices of outstanding yet ideologically leftist Cabinet secretaries vis-à-vis stolidly pro-business technocrats, his distinct pro-poor socio-economic reforms, etc.

Duterte reportedly plans to finally overhaul our archaic 1987 Constitution. Please try the parliamentary and federal system, Mr. President! Please modernize the economic provisions of our Charter!

How can we ordinary citizens respond to this national call for comprehensive change? How can we contribute our share? Here are some of my suggestions:

 • Change via Internet and social media. Instead of using the Internet and social media as addictive and time-wasting entertainment, why not galvanize its vast reach to change the Philippines and the world with truth, positive values, noble advocacies and peace?

These quotes can very well apply to the social media as well as other media. The late comedian Robin Williams said: “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” The late civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.” 

 • Change through education. Let us build more schools, support teachers, upgrade textbooks and facilities, help democratize access to good education for all kids!

I strongly believe education can change society, liberating people from the shackles of dehumanizing poverty and social injustice.  

• Change through music and arts. Philippine Airlines chairman Lucio C. Tan once told me in passing during a private dinner: “Two effective ways to fundamentally change a race or a nation is through music and religion.” Rock band U2’s lead singer and philanthropist Bono has said: “Music can change the world because it can change people.”

Let us not belittle the far-reaching importance of arts and culture, of pop culture, in changing the character and mindsets of people, the destiny of nations. Let us uplift, educate, liberate and inspire people through art, music, poetry, film, drama and good TV!

• Gospel of change via kindness. Perform random acts of kindness or be extra courteous to others, to create ripples of kind acts. In the movie Pay It Forward, a seventh grade student named Trevor gets a social studies assignment from his teacher: “Think of an idea to change our world — and put it into action!”

Trevor used the “paying it forward” idea —doing a good deed for three different persons and telling them to, instead of paying him back, just pay it forward to three other people who could also multiply this positivity among more persons. Viral kindness: can we make this happen in real life?

 • Plant trees and gardens, help the environment. Where are the dragonflies, butterflies, chriping birds and amazing fireflies of the Metro Manila of my childhood? Let us plant more trees and vegetable gardens to make our neighborhoods and cities more livable.

 • Change through ethical business. It is untrue that private enterprise is only about profits and selfishness; companies big or small can also become catalysts for positive change by being ethical and efficient, by creating jobs and helping allocate resources, by making lives better, by bringing about progress.

Visionary business people like Steve Jobs of Apple, Walt Disney and others helped create technologies and ventures that have made the world better and happier. Billionaire Elon Musk once said: “When I was in college, I wanted to be involved in things that would change the world.”

Even without charities, I believe running a good, orderly and honest business is in itself a form of civic duty and a charitable act by helping make the world a better place. 

• Prayer. In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, we often forget to pray. Whatever our religion, let us not forget the power of prayer to change our world; also its positive effects on each citizen’s search for inner peace, thus contributing to a more peaceful world.

Dr. Clay Routledge Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today magazine that prayer not only promotes better physical health and lessens stress, it boosts self-control and forgiveness, thus promoting societal peace and order. Maybe apart from draconian methods like shooting illegal drug dealers, President Rody Duterte can ask the citizenry to fervently pray more every day in order to promote harmony nationwide?

• Change ourselves. Every Toms, Dick and Harry railing against the outgoing administration’s inefficiencies and lack of empathy, or mouthing the slogan “Change is coming” to herald the rise of the serious anti-corruption and anti-crime Digong Duterte, all should heed our new leader and re-examine themselves to see if there’s room for personal change!

How? Be disciplined in following rules and regulations such as driving or parking our vehicles, lining up for MRT or buses; be honest in paying taxes; keep our streets and rivers clean, stop littering, stop smoking, stop gossiping, stop whining, stop bribing and tolerating bribes; be optimistic, be less cynical, be punctual to change “Filipino time”; revive traditional moral and family values, obey our parents and elders, care for others.

The great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy said: “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Let us change ourselves, then the world!

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