CATHOLIC Spain brought Christianity to the Philippines 500 years ago. Presumably, therefore, she brought to this country, among other Christian values, the servant-leadership or leadership of service Christ taught his apostles and exemplified by washing their dirty feet on Maundy Thursday. Presumably also, she brought to us Christ’s teaching on power, mainly that the Good Shepherd uses his power over his sheep primarily to lead them to greener pastures and protect them from predators.
Yes, presumably, except that Spanish civic and religious functionaries did not practice what their religion taught about leadership and power. Instead they modeled the leadership of a superior white race over an inferior brown race. Instead they modeled abuse of power towards their subjects from whom they cruelly demanded service after unjustly taking away their homeland.
Inevitably this style of leadership and use of power got encoded in the psyche of our original local rulers, the illustrados. These colonial clones in turn programmed the psyche of the rest of the population into submitting without question to the dictates of even the most incompetent and corrupt of leaders.
We are lagging behind our neighbors economically (we have the highest incidence of poverty) and politically (the marginalized sector has no voice in government) because we have not crossed the bridge over to the other side of colonial leadership and power management styles. Our leaders still do not serve but instead lord it over a powerless and voiceless people.
The bridge to the other side of colonialist leadership values and followership attitudes is education. We have not crossed it because it accepts and does not challenge colonial government styles, attitudes and values. It teaches unquestioning conformity with policies and instructions from superiors. It produces leaders with super-egos who expect to be served by submissive subjects.
Our educational system’s failure to be a bridge to the other side of regressive colonialism is greatly abetted by medieval Catholicism’s teaching that civil and religious superiors are God’s representatives. Hence, the adverse consequences of their impositions must be accepted as God’s will.
If there is no leadership of service in government, there is even less of it in the Catholic Church. Community pantries or feeding centers should have originated from the Church, but it seems to have neither the imagination nor the sensitivity to think of something programmatic to help people who are adversely affected by Covid-19.
We are thus hopelessly stuck on the colonial side of the river. The bridge towards servant leadership and critically thinking assertive citizenship remains uncrossed.