Business & Civic Education

Manila Bulletin, September 23, 2010 | Go to article overview

Business & Civic Education


MANILA, Philippines - Civic education is the inculcation in individual citizens of the virtue of solidarity, which is the habit of deliberately contributing to the common good in one's daily behavior, whether in work, family, or social life. The common good, in turn, is a social order in which each person can fully cultivate herself or himself economically, politically, socially, culturally, and spiritually. It is not the greatest good for the greatest number. Every person must be allowed to develop. The concept of the common good is also directly related to what is called integral human development in the social encyclicals: The development of each person and the whole person.The test of civic-mindedness is the ability of an individual to work for the good of others who are neither relatives nor friends. This is very much related to the third type of love, that of benevolence. For example, when one does an excellent job in his occupation or profession primarily because he is amply rewarded with a high salary and other fringe benefits, he is moved by the love of attraction (to what money can buy). His excellent work will obviously contribute to the good of society or the common good, but his act does not proceed from the virtue of solidarity. He may work well and with precision because a job well done may give him what are known as intrinsic motivations: Search for excellence, self-fulfillment, pleasing his loved ones. Again, these legitimate reasons still fall short of the virtue of solidarity. Only when he can transcend both exterior and interior motivating forces, when he can act for the pure love of other people he does not even know personally but belong to the society he lives in can we say that he is motivated by the love of benevolence and is acting for the common good.Let me give some very pedestrian examples. Some years back, I saw a Singaporean couple with two children enjoying the sights of Luneta Park and Intramuros. The children had just eaten some sweets and were looking for a waste can into which to throw the wrappers. When they could not find one close by, they put the wrappers into their pockets - instinctively demonstrating what is inculcated in the very culture of the Singaporeans about always keeping the environment clean for all and sundry (people they do not know and may never meet in their lives). You can imagine what most Filipino children would do with their garbage. Another example, probably too pedestrian, is suggested by the sign one finds in every wash room of an airplane: Please use the paper towel to clean the basin for the good of the next user. Those thinking of the common good will always keep the toilet clean after use even if he or she does not know from Adam who the next user will be. That is the virtue of solidarity: Taking pains to promote the good of another even if he is not your relative or your friend.In our imperfect democracy, Filipino citizens have much to improve in civic-mindedness or the virtue of solidarity. Our still profoundly feudal society is still characterized by personal loyalty to the family, whether nuclear or extended, and to one's patrons or feudal lords. In politics, there are no meaningful parties because the loyalty is still to the person, not to the party. The business world is no different. The Anglo-American form of capitalism, in which the profit for the shareholders and the high salaries and bonuses for the top executives are paramount, has been super-imposed on our feudal society. There have been attempts to develop a culture of corporate social responsibility but oftentimes the programs do not address all the stakeholders of the firms and are tangential to the welfare of most of them. …

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