Friday, April 20, 2007

Cleanse and strengthen our collective spirit

One of the thoughtful things I heard from a TV correspondent about the horrible campus shootings at Virginia Tech is that "The dead are not just students. They are friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, sisters, roommates, classmates, brothers, cousins, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, grandfathers." Indeed. Then in a deeper way, we could empathize and sympathize with the VT community members and the bereaved families. Let us offer our prayers for the dead and the grieving.

While we look back to the root of the problem, let's also focus on moving on and facing the future. Joan Baez once said, "You don't get to choose how you're going to die, or when. You can only decide how you're going to live."

These have happened before in different parts of the globe. It could happen again not only in the school, workplace, church, mall, airport, and many others. And these dastardly acts didn't just happen; they are products of broken self-esteem and lack of faith that nibbled at the soul slowly through a period of time, nurtured by an uncaring and permissive culture.

What to do to cleanse our environment and strengthen our collective spirit? In Self & Soul, Adele Wilcox wrote, "In her 1996 book, It Takes a Village, First Lady Hilary Rodham Clinton contends that raising children encompasses both parental and societal responsibility. Ms. Clinton defines the village as the network of values and relationships that support and affect our lives. These can be either positive or negative. Consequently, the village, or society, influences children immeasurably, and our cultural values permeate formative minds. Parents have only a limited amount of control over what their children absorb from outside. The village's influence will seep in. As the village goes, so goes the child."

Define personal our life purpose and move towards fulfilling it. A meaningful purpose gives us a different perspective and attitude towards our job and life.

Engage only in life-enhancing work. Work that destroys life consumes our soul also. Work that tears us apart from our family or deprives us time with them destroys the very thread of society that binds us all. Let us shun away from work that forces us to go against ethics and common decency and business that might destroy persons' and families' value system.

Stay upbeat and positive. There is so much to life. As I gallivant around Benguet Province, the Ilocos Region (and as you are reading this I am in Sagada and Banaue), I notice how people who live the simple life have much more positive worldview and satisfying relationships. Pagudpod seems to be a God-forsaken town to a true-blue ManileƱa like me, but the people there are a happy lot. I have not seen anybody with worry lines on their faces and their smiles are much wider; their laughter, much spontaneous. Maybe they don't watch Pinoy Big Brother and, ergo, don't get riled by Wendy schemes and pretenses.

Eliminate the negative habit of worry. Worry does not solve any problem; on the other hand, it aggravates them. Ms. Wilcox writes that worry is derived from an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning "to choke." So every time you worry, you are putting your hands around your neck choking yourself. If anyone in your life is physically, sexually or extremely emotionally abusive, leave immediately. Corporate leaders need to watch out for these abusive people and do something about them. They ignored Cho Seung-Hui.

Finally, let's live beyond ourselves. Doing for others with no expectation of personal gain is key to well-being and spiritual development. Ms. Wilcox says, "Our spirituality and self-esteem begins within ourselves but continue to grow when lived out in relationship." Let's influence others with our goodness.

As the village goes, so goes your business. It is imperative for business to take concrete steps towards cleansing and strengthening the collective spirit in their own organizations, where people spend most of their active time.


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