WHAT leadership challenges do our Bangsamoro youth face today? Have they forged a path to success in leading the Bangsamoro? What advice can we give those who hope to become leaders in their fields?
I’ve been considering these questions andreflecting on the future of the Bangsamoro government that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. After the recent Barangay elections, I realised that we need to help develop Bangsamoro leaders who can truly serve their communities and work for the common good of all peoples in Mindanao.
To get some context, I remembered a book written by my friend Dr. Ronnie Amorado, “Kakistocracy: Rule of the Unprincipled, Unethical and Unqualified” (2012) that best describes the current leadership problem we have not only within the Bangsamoro but in the entire country.
In the said book, Dr.Amorado described the need to have integrity and intelligence in our leaders. He said, “Leadership without intelligence or integrity gives rise to kakistocracy – a government or organization that is ruled by the most unprincipled, unethical and unqualified managers and leaders. It comes from the Greek kakistos (worst) or kakos (bad) + kracia (rule, power or government).”
“If unchecked, kakistocracy results in kleptocracy, from the Greek kleptos (theft) + kratos (rule). Kakistocratic and kleptocratic leadership behaviour explains the world’s woes in government corruption, citizens’ misconduct, corporate scandals, misdemeanour in the Church, anomalies in civil society, spousal indiscretion and infidelity, the desecration of rule of law, and even the persistence of illegitimate authoritarian states and despotic rulers.”
In a conflict affected area, like the Bangsamoro, or the current geographical area of the ARMM, there is a lack of good governance, accountability, and transparency. Kakistocracy and kleptocracy are the existing norms of leadership. Thus, the cycle of poverty, violent conflict, and under-development is passed on from one generation to another.
We, in Al Qalam Institute and the Ateneo de Davao University, aim to educate and train our youth to become leaders that are principled, ethical, and qualified. Through the different projects we have in the office, like the Peace Camps, Salaam Movement, and the undergraduate program AB Islamic Studies, we aim to build a strong network of leaders in the Bangsamoro that are truly men and women for others.
Let me also give three main points for our youth today about some of the key principles we teach in our programs.
Be Persistent and Critical Minded
You must learn not only to ask questions, but to keep asking our elders and leaders that questions can help them clarify their minds, thoughts, and even questions about Islam, especially in manners concerning jihad.
Asking questions is the first key towards learning. If they have any doubt or unclear thoughts, they should ask their elders and keep on asking questions.
Every day, we meet intelligent youth within the Bangsamoro. In fact, we have worked with them and trained most of them on various programs of Al Qalam. However, those who have the courage to walk straight through their fears in engaging various sectors and organisations are the ones who stand out.
Peace building and working in our communities can be challenging. We have a huge task ahead of us in serving the Bangsamoro people. Thus, the youth needs to cultivate courage in their own lives and future career paths.
Work for the Common Good
You should remember the verse of the Holy Qurán, which so comprehensively covers this concept of working for the common good, reads “O people of Islam, "You are the best people ever raised for the good of mankind because you have been raised to serve others; you enjoin what is good and forbid evil and believe in Allah." (3:111)”
Lastly, the fundamental qualities that the youth must learn are to serve humankind and to develop a passion to serve others. For me, this is the key in ensuring we can have a better Bangsamoro in the near future.