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Staying behind the leaders we chose

May 19, 2019

Just as there is no way at this juncture to dislodge Cynthia Villar, Grace Poe and Bong Go from their top three positions in last week’s race for Senate seats, there is little chance now for anyone to doubt the election victories of the young, earnest but politically callow new mayors of Manila, Pasig and San Juan.

Isko Moreno of Manila, Vico Sotto of Pasig and Francis Zamora of San Juan fit the image of fresh young blood that could be the stuff legends are made of in the eyes of a weary generation desperate to see genuine reform in their world as led by real heroes.

This national aspiration may be a blessing or a curse.

The wise will recognize that a nation of hopeful people could mean massive, formidable support rallying behind a leader they believe in and accomplishing the sustainable development goals set before them. The fool will turn that hopeful aspiration into a curse — a dreadful pall of disillusionment descending upon the nation and crystallizing into jaded indifference more difficult to vanquish than the wrath of a people seeking to topple a regime.

Turning that national aspiration into a blessing is the biggest challenge that lies ahead for those who have stepped forward to lead.

But as a people, let us not delude ourselves into believing that perfect leaders will arise from our midst to correct the wrongs we have inflicted upon ourselves as a nation. We don’t have the luxury of having been reared in a sophisticated democracy to expect politically mature and selfless leaders to guide us into our rightful place in a global community of fairly minded, productive, progressive citizens respecting everyone as co-equals.

What we need are real-life leaders who will emerge from among our ranks as a damaged nation to show us the way and inspire and enable us to help lift up one another out of the same messed-up lives we have lived as a corrupted people for generations.

After all, history is replete with inspiring stories of the weak, downtrodden and imperfect people rising above their misery and succeeding not only in their own life goals but becoming great leaders of their generation.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was stricken with a paralytic illness as an adult but did not allow that to stop him from running for office and becoming a four-term President of the United States.

Frederick Douglass had lived from birth through slavery and violence, but learned fine oratory and incisive writing to fight the practice of slavery during his time, later becoming the leader of the abolitionist movement in America.

Moses of the Bible, the prince of Egypt, was once a murderer and when called by God to lead the Israelites out of the country of their bondage, initially declined the job offer for lack of confidence in his public speaking skills, but God gave him provisions and enabled him to eventually lead his people into the promised land.

We do not need perfect leaders to show us the way forward. Broken as we may be by disappointment with the deep-seated corruption and other deadly menace to our society, staying and putting our heads together as a people behind the leaders we chose, engaging them and holding them to account for their actions may still be the better way to grapple with national issues, rather than moving away, or worse, opting for indifference.

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