PASSION can be lethal.

The president’s immediate reaction following the events involving the defiant action of the revolutionaries in the countryside against the continuing ‘human plague’ that forced hundreds of thousands among the indigenous peoples to evacuate, could be a sign that he is losing control.

As a leader, his inability to restrain his temper and rage is seen not as strength by not a few, but of feeble-mindedness, of a lack of discipline that is expected of a principled leader. It seems he’s stuck in that old tactic employed by our elders in the past wherein unruly children were made to lie face down and given several stinging lashes with ‘sinturon’.

The mass exodus of Lumads and the killings of activists In the past few weeks are indicators of the breaking down of sanity in the national leadership. The rush decisions and pronouncements the president have made seemed not very well thought of but done out of passion. Sadly, these has affected so many innocent lives, especially those who are already in the margins of society, the Indigenous Peoples.

Was the president ill-advised regarding the state of affairs in the countryside such that he immediately declared an “all-out war” against the revolutionaries whom he had once compromised with? Was his action triggered by a wounded ego more than anything else?

Is it too much to expect humility from him at such a challenging time?

The former CEO of Honeywell and author of the book Execution, Larry Bossidy, wrote why leadership characteristics, such as humility, make one a more effective leader.

“The more you can contain your ego, the more realistic you are about your problems. You learn how to listen, and admit that you don’t know all the answers. You exhibit the attitude that you can learn from anyone at any time. Your pride doesn’t get in the way of gathering the information you need to achieve the best results. It doesn’t keep you from sharing the credit that needs to be shared. Humility allows you to acknowledge your mistakes.”

Humility doesn’t mean that you’re weak or unsure of yourself. It means that you have the self-confidence and self-awareness to recognize the value of others without feeling threatened.This is one of the rarer attributes – or traits – of good leaders because it requires containment of one’s ego.

It means that you are willing to admit you could be wrong, that you recognize you may not have all the answers. And it means that you give credit where credit is due – – which many people struggle to do.

What about compassion?

Compassion is a strength. The best example of this virtue is no other than India’s Mahatma Gandhi.

He was regarded as the “great master of empathy”. Mahatma Gandhi on his return to India from South Africa in 1915had decided to campaign for Indian independence from British rule. To achieve this, he felt he needed to experience what life was really like for the poorest people in the country.

Thus, he was said to throw away his fancy barrister’s suit and collar, wrapped himself in a dhoti or loincloth, and established the Sabamarti Ashram, where he lived from 1917 to 1930. Ashram life was about stepping into the shoes of ordinary farmers.

He and his followers grew their own food, spun their own cloth, and cleaned out the latrines – a job usually relegated to the Untouchable (Dalit) caste. Gandhi’s deep empathetic instinct also took him across religious boundaries.

History relates that he was appalled by the violence between Hindus and Muslims, and fervently opposed the creation of a separate Muslim state. A devout Hindu himself, he once declared to a group of Hindu nationalists: ‘I am a Muslim! And a Hindu, and a Christian and a Jew – and so are all of you.’ These words, which still resonate today, rank amongst the greatest empathetic statements of all time.