12 vital lessons learned from life in 2013

DIRECT FROM THE LABOR FRONT - Atty Josephus B Jimenez - The Freeman

Now that the year is almost over, we should say good bye to those very eventful twelve months, with deep realization of the most important lessons that we must have learned from the events that unfolded over the last 365 days. Filipinos must always reflect on all those happenings, both the good ones and the bad, both the victories and the devastations, both the many events that enriched us and ennobled our lives as well as those that brought unexpected anguish and untold sufferings. By these times, we should have pondered deeply and looked into our hearts, and counted all the insights that must make us wiser and more discerning from now on.

The first of these lessons, and perhaps, the most important one is that we can never be prepared enough for each major natural disaster, but we certainly can improve, each time, our level of preparation. Nature always asserts itself as more powerful than man, but then again, man has the power to learn from each of his inadequacies. The second lesson is that, the good thing about disaster and calamities is that, they tend to unite people more than they divide them. They bring together enemies, both individuals and nations and they transcend barriers of ideologies and political affiliations. The third lesson this year is that finger-pointing only exacerbate problems and never solve them.

The fourth lesson that we need to learn is that taxation does not respect fame or popularity, and that indeed, whenever internal revenue bureaucrats issue an assessment order, accompanied with an order to freeze bank deposits and asset disposition, everyone must comply or be humble enough to manifest willingness to compromise. In fact, the fifth lesson is that no taxpayer, no matter how powerful and popular he is, can ever defend himself successfully against a government order, by calling for a press conference, much less challenging those who have tremendous powers over them. The best approach is to humble himself and start to negotiate for a truce.

The sixth lesson is that the most powerful, even former presidents or incumbent senators and congressmen and highly-placed commissioners, are no longer immune from suit. It has been demonstrated, beyond all shades of doubt, that ours is a government of laws and not a government of men. Powerful people who exceeded the bounds of propriety, and those suspected to have done so, by some measure of probable cause to indict, have, in fact been charged, others have been convicted, and still a few of them have either been impeached, ousted, detained and prevented from leaving the country. The seventh lesson is that power truly corrupts but there is a more powerful force which is incorruptible, the conscience of man.

Lesson number eight then, is that when conspirators of lesser degree of guilt come forward, conscience-stricken, and become whistle blowers, they reveal a lot of truth that can shock the whole nation, on, among others, the magnitude of man's greed and capacity for malice and evil deeds. Lesson number nine is that a mere high school graduate from a far-flung province, who has no masters' degree, much less a doctorate, can shock the nation with such sophistication and ingenuity, which could have been used for more positive undertakings. The tenth lesson is that the most trusted relatives who work for you can be the most effective whistleblower to expose your most hidden secrets.

The eleventh lesson is that even the most famous family name cannot assure election victory, not even an unbroken record of constant wins in the past. Indeed, when people start to dislike you, even when they used to be your most rabid partisans and supporters, you can never predict the winds of political change to be blowing against your direction. The last, and perhaps, the most vital one, is that in victory and in defeat, in sunshine and in storms, a good leader, a good man is he who never loses his cool, remains humble and never scolds people in public. He may not be in control of the weather, but he is truly great when he is in control of himself. Learning these twelve lessons can make better men and women of ourselves, better Filipinos and hopefully, better Christians.

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