What if you discover that your dad or mom is corrupt?

Posted at 04/29/2012 12:52 AM

Last Saturday, April 21, Kaya Natin concluded a Youth Summit for Good Governance. The KN Team, led by Shy Castrillo, together with Myra de Leon and Mixie Rivera did an awesome job gathering the great speakers and moving the student leaders. The participants ended on high spirits. They were ready to create change in the world.

Towards the closing of the summit, Fr. Albert Alejo's talk and synthesis lingered in my mind. He asked: “What if you discover that your dad or mom is corrupt?” I posted this on my Facebook page and it immediately struck a chord. I had a lot of responses from people. Mae Paner (also known as Juana Change) said, “whew! ang hirap! patay na mga magulang ko! pero dahil sa kung ano ako ngayon, siguro, kung buhay pa sila at mangyari yan, pauutos ko sa iba na isuplong sila, at pag nakakulong na, magpapa picture ako kasama nila at sasabihin kong, "Sila ang mga minamahal kong magulang." At dadalaw ako ng madalas!"

In a Clergy Summit for Good Governance, Heidi Mendoza said, “We as a people value relationships very much. Unfortunately, when our friends are doing something wrong, we are afraid to hurt each other’s feelings.” We seem to value our relationship more than accountability. She was not the only one who said that. Maria Ressa, in her talk in the same Clergy Summit for Good Governance last March 15 said that our social networks also perpetuate corruption. In an email, she writes: “It's based on a tenet of social network theory - that emotions and behavior spread through 3 degrees.” She spent a year studying how terrorism spreads through social networks and wrote a book entitled FROM BIN LADEN TO FACEBOOK, which is due to come out soon. She said, “Corruption spreads through social networks. You are the friends you keep.”

Fr. Alejo’s question jolts me because this question applies not only with my parents but also my friends. My parents may not be corrupt but I have been guilty of allowing some of my friends to be so. Many times I do not even struggle much with the ethical dilemma. ‘Live and let live’ is usually the last thought I have before I perish my considerations.

Could it be that, as a people, our high value for our relationships is bad for our integrity? But the same people who said that our relationships make corruption endemic to our culture also said that relationships could be used to strengthen accountability.

Fr. Bert highlighted how a demand for integrity can be increased if like hearts band together to ask for it. He said, “It is not enough to be honest and to contribute to the supply of honesty. We need to create the demand. We need to work with the same desires and hearts to demand integrity in our schools and our community.”

Maria Ressa, in the same talk with the clergy, spoke about ways how to generate numbers thru social media in order to create a tipping point in demanding good governance from our leaders. She spoke about the ‘wisdom of crowds’ and how we make our decisions. ‘80% of the way we make decisions are determined by our emotions.’ “If you identify how you feel, you are most likely to be rational.” Maria said. She spoke about her work in Rappler.com and how they aim to capture the sentiments of people and generate stories to inspire community engagement and digitally-fueled actions for social change.

Heidi Mendoza's talked about having accountability partners. During the Clergy Summit for good governance, she said, “we need to pursue CONJUGAL ACCOUNTABILITY if we expect to remain accountable.” She rendered how she and her husband struggle and foster accountability in her family. She illustrated how integrity must be rooted in the family if we are to become accountable public servants.

Rose Fausto, the mother of my son’s classmate, wrote a book entitled “RAISING PINOY BOYS”. In the book, she highlights good practices of parents of successful individuals like Tony Tan Caktiong of Jollibee, Lance Gokongwei of Cebu Pacific, and Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga. The book also includes good practices that she and her husband Marvin foster with their children. Her effort starts at an early age to build the capacity of the children towards responsibility. During the book launch, when I was asked to share, I mentioned how the book is an ‘ABC’ to leadership development.

1998 Nobel Prize winner and author of the book Development as Freedom, Amartaya Sen said, "For a fuller understanding of the challenge of corruption, we have to drop the presumption that only personal profits move people, and values and norms simply do not count. They do count... Just as the presence of corrupt behavior encourages other corrupt behavior, the diminutions (reduction) of the hold of corruption can weaken it further. In trying to alter the climate of conduct, it is encouraging to bear in mind the fact that each VICIOUS CIRCLE entails a VIRTUOUS CIRCLE if the direction is reversed."

But how can we build this virtuous cycle? Maria talks about the ‘wisdom of crowds’. People like Fr. Alejo, Fr. Ted Gonzales SJ, the program director of CEFAM, Rose Fausto, and Heidi Mendoza speak about integrity in the family.

Kaya Natin Movement built a sanctuary of ethical leaders. How about you? What efforts do you make for yourself, your family, and your community to supply and demand Accountability?

I am writing another blog on Integrity Building. Hope you can share your thoughts. What do you think of the following: Shared Emotions, Shared Value, Shared Dreams, and Shared Accountability?

How do we Create Accountable Relationships?

* Jess Lorenzo is currently the program director of Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership's public health initiatives. www.kayanatin.org @kayanatin on Twitter

Comments are welcome at [email protected] or private message through Facebook. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jesslorenzo for stories of good governance.
Jess Lorenzo is currently the program director of Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership's public health initiatives. www.kayanatin.org @kayanatin on Twitter