“Our dream was to demonstrate that you could run a business in India without corruption and create wealth, legally and ethically.” ~ Narayana Murthy, co-founder of Infosys Technologies, as quoted by Bill George in ‘True North’
“One of our major customers conducted a comprehensive review of their purchasing activities, on the heels of allegations of fraud. After more than ten years of resisting requests for bribes, and losing substantial chunks of business because of our stand, it is like sweet music to be told they found our conduct as supplier beyond reproach. We gained back the business we lost, and more.” ~ Name withheld upon request, a businessman in the Philippines.
I have just returned from two glorious, hectic, exhilarating, yet equally refreshing and restful two weeks in the Philippines. This was where I was born, nurtured, developed. Where I learned about faith and values. Where I learned to appreciate life as it was, to enjoy the moment. Yet … I was also encouraged to dream. To be ambitious. Then, just in case I get too puffed up with pride and self-importance, there usually followed a gentle nudge, a reminder that there is life beyond this life. To live for greater purpose.
But there was a dark side to the Philippines. I grew up with stories and anecdotes of corruption. I grew up seeing instances of corruption seeping into the everyday. Like skipping queues. Escaping fines. Getting your mail.
In contrast, the values of honesty and truth were taught vigorously at home. We got into more trouble for lying than for any other infraction. As we grew up, the challenges became more complex, and applying these values in tandem with others created tension. But as a family we held each other accountable. Even complex, tangled situations were vehicles to clarify thought and intentions, opportunities to build character. Sometimes we were misunderstood. But time and ‘light of day’ were our friends.
Several decades later, the posts on social media, digital and print news speak of similar stories of corruption in the Philippines, but in escalating amounts, almost a mind-numbing scale! There are often-repeated calls for leaders to resign or, if you’re a politician, be sued for plundering the nation’s coffers.
Yet, is corruption only in the head?
How do we go about life everyday?
Do we laugh at jokes that glorify petty theft, and label them ‘smart’? Do we ignore little lies? Do we encourage others that the ‘ends justify the means’? Do we talk in whispers when something is wrong, rather than hold each other accountable, without being vindictive or proud? Do we victimise the middleman, rather than correct with love? Do we wait for others to amend their ways, before we change ours?
Oh, that’s not you?
If corruption is as pervasive as it seems to be, how do we encourage others to turn away from these evil ways?
- Do we welcome them to our churches, our fellowship meals, as Jesus did once for Lazarus?
- Do we pray for our leaders?
- Do we help them lead?
- Do we pray for ourselves that we do not stumble from day to day?
- Are we united in prayer to rid our country of this blight on our spirit?
- Are we teaching the values of truth and honesty in every group, community and institution?
- What else can we do as individuals and as families?
It’s a brand new year. Soar like the eagle, Philippines. Yes, it is difficult to move across the gully when you’re on the ground. But the eagle can cross the great divide. Rise to accomplish your purpose. Rise to be renewed in spirit. Have faith and act.
Let us unite from family to family, from town to town, from city to city, across islands, across denominations of faith, to purge ourselves of the filth of greed and corruption. May faith be revived; the daily kind of faith; the kind that acts. May our country’s strength be renewed as the eagle’s.
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles.
Isaiah 40:31 (The Bible, New King James Version)
[God] satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:5 (The Bible, New King James Version)
James 2:14,17 (The Bible, New Living Translation)