Progress: beyond critique

By Reni M. Valenzuela

Appreciate criticisms as road signs to make your travel safe, easier and on track.

Don’t assume that somebody is an enemy just because he criticizes you, for it could be that that somebody is just telling you the truth or cares enough to make you see where you are wrong, notwithstanding the hurt or inconvenience his forthrightness may cause you or him.

Much of what makes success or progress happen is not talent, skill, knowhow, ability or money (humanly speaking), but the humble taking of criticism from well-meaning people, each step of the way.

“Any man worth his salt will stick up for what he believes right, but it takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error.” ( Andrew Jackson, 1757-1845). Historian Prof. Daniel Feller depicted President Jackson as a leader “who left a permanent imprint upon American politics and the presidency”; one who “strengthened himself against Congress by forging direct links with the voters.”

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. deserves all the support he can muster from the Filipino people (having clearly won the election) as he recently appealed for it, vis-a-vis his programs of government, particularly the Maharlika Wealth Fund (revised or unrevised). But be that as it may, the people in general remains skeptical and adamant, though not “disinclined.”

Dearest BBM, your father (R.I.P) had dynamic qualities as a leader. He could have served the nation so well and could have been remembered as our greatest president who could have achieved in “making this nation great again” (his battlecry) had he not failed, and failed miserably, in facing criticisms which primarily caused his downfall and which downfall/debacle was preceded by his persecution of government critics, the media, political nemesis and suspected “trouble-makers.” He closed his ears to dissenting voices like he was infallible or a god. Tragic. It was in this aspect, principally, where your beloved father met his waterloo.

We heed your call for support, Mr. President.  However, if the support you are asking for is for everybody to agree all the time with what you want to do for the country, then that is not support, but servility/fawning or authoritarianism, a sure formula for national disaster. The best support we can give you is our love and concern for the country, if the same love and concern you harbor in your heart (chaste and pure) as our sitting president.  Criticism (and humility) is the first and last gauge of true and effective leadership.

Whether we voted for you or not is immaterial. You are our president now, and so every Filipino is divinely beholden to support you and pray for you, all the way till your final day in the Palace. But please don’t get me wrong, Mr. President, with what I am about to say, mincing no words, at the risk of possibly offending you and/or lampooned by your sycophants/blind followers:

There must be “something more” to the Maharlika Wealth/Investment Fund bill than “prosperity agenda” or its touted purposes you and your economic managers and “backers” in Congress vow to pursue when you certified it as urgent, when our “representatives” acted hastily, heedlessly and doggedly to approve it, in total disregard of a popular clamor from the people, not to mention several economic experts, former high ranking government officials, political and business leaders, educators, the academe, the media, the religious, the ordinary folk, labor and various other sectors of our society.

Not all critics have hidden or political agenda.

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”  – Winston Churchill.  There comes a time once in a while when a nation’s leader needs to count his critics as friends and his so-called friends as enemies. “The trouble with most of us is that we’d rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”  – Norman Vincent Peale

“Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.  The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.”  – Proverbs 27:5-7

“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” – Proverbs 21:2


While quickly writing this piece (after my morning Bible devotion and prayer) to submit it within an hour, as I am rushing to an appointment, I remembered the book, “Lost in The Jungle,” by Yossi Ghinsberg.

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