Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Uneven Trustworthiness of Key Sectors

The Church is perceived to be the most trustworthy institution in the Philippines, while Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) are perceived to be the least trustworthy.  These are some of the findings shared during the launch of the 2012 Philippine Trust Index (PTI) at the Ateneo Professional Schools Auditorium on 27 February 2013.
The 2012 PTI is the fruit of the partnership between the Ateneo Graduate School of Business and EON, the Stakeholder Relations Firm.  The 2012 PTI is the result of two nationwide surveys, a General (Gen) Public survey and an Informed (Inf) Public survey. 
The Gen Public survey involved 1,200 respondents, 18 years old and above from all socio-economic classes (A to E).  The Inf Public survey involved 600 respondents, 25 years old and above from classes A to C who have at least 2 years of college education and who are significant media consumers.  Both surveys were conducted through face-to-face interviews in November and December 2012.
The PTI used a 5-level scale:  Very Much Trust (Napakalaking Tiwala), Fairly Much Trust (Medyo Malaking Tiwala), Neither Trust nor Distrust (Hindi Tiyak), Fairly Little Trust (Medyo Maliit na Tiwala), and Very Little Trust (Napakaliit na Tiwala).

In the PTI Gen survey, if one looks at the results of the Very Much Trust level only, here is what appears in descending order:  Church (68 %), Academe (45), Media (32), Government (15), NGOs (12), Business (9).
If one uses Very Much Trust plus Fairly Much Trust in the PTI Gen survey, the last two places change:  Church (92 %), Academe (85), Media (77), Govt (58), Business (55), NGOs (52).

In the PTI Informed Public survey (very much + fairly much), Business (60 %) and Govt (58.5) are nearly equal in their trustworthiness ratings, with Business barely higher.  NGOs (54.5) unfortunately again constitute the sector perceived to be the least trustworthy.

Stronger linkages with the Academe (especially universities) may help raise the trustworthiness of NGOs, Business and Government.  For example, a university can help an NGO in evaluating objectively the impact of the NGO’s work, especially its poverty reduction impact.  Based on the evaluation, the Academe can help the NGO come up with a better strategy or more effective programs to help those in need.

In the case of Business, the Academe can help it evaluate the impact of its policies and practices on its internal stakeholders, its personnel.  The Academe can help Business in its Research and Development of new or innovative products and services.  The stronger partnership ought to be mutually beneficial, and thus the Academe, for example, can benefit from access to more resources from Business in order to support academic research and to upgrade educational standards and methods.

In the case of the Church, perceived to be the most trustworthy institution, a stronger linkage with NGOs, Business and Government can be helpful for the less trustworthy sectors yet it is more problematic and risky than linkage with the Academe.  

Based on one of the top answers respondents gave to the question on what qualities are important for the trustworthiness of the Church, a significant source of its trustworthiness is its perceived autonomy or independence from the less trustworthy sectors especially Government.

Based on the qualities that respondents identified as important for the trustworthiness of the Church, its very high rating suggests that respondents perceive priests as quite good in providing spiritual guidance, modeling holiness, and practicing restraint in political involvement.

More members of class AB identified restraint in political involvement (40 %), as a trustworthiness criterion for the Church, compared to providing spiritual guidance (24 %) and modeling holiness (25).  In contrast, only 9 % of farmers and fisherfolk among the respondents identified restraint in political involvement as a criterion.  Clergy restraint in political involvement is a trustworthiness criterion especially for the urban elite.
The Church’s very high trust rating can be considered an encouraging sign for Philippine Church leaders (but if it leads to complacency or arrogance, such high rating will likely be unsustainable).
We may compare the PTI with the Edelman Global Trust Index or Barometer.  Edelman, an international public relations firm that has been conducting an international survey on trust since 2001, uses a 9-point scale in which 9 means “trust a great deal,” 1 means no trust at all, and 5 means neither trust nor distrust.  Edelman prioritizes the Informed Public, and limits its survey to 4 institutions (Business, Govt, Media, NGOs).

Here are the overall ratings from its 2013 study, which covers 20 nations:  NGOs (63 %), Business (58), Media (57), Govt (48).  For Edelman, 50-60 % is still neutral rather than clear trust.

If we adapt the Edelman standards for the Informed Public, one can say that, in the Philippines, the perception of trustworthiness of key sectors is uneven:  very high for Church (89 %), high for Academe (83) and Media (76), and neutral for Business (60), Govt (58.5) and NGOs (54.5).

If we look at the ratings of Malaysia and Indonesia in the 2013 Edelman, the Philippines is like Malaysia as regards the ratings received by (Mal) Government (60 %) and Business (63), and as regards the similarity of the gap between Govt and Business.  

But we are like Indonesia as regards the ratings received by (Ind) NGOs (51 %) and Media (77).  Perhaps unsurprisingly, the overall trustworthiness ratings of Indonesia (62 %) and Malaysia (64) would make them our neighbors, if the PTI average (62 %) for Phl Media, Business, Govt and NGOs were included in the 2013 Edelman Global Trust Index.

As regards the “advanced democracies” in the Edelman Trust Index, why is Canada (62 %) the only one with an overall clear trustworthiness rating, while the U.S. (59), the Netherlands (59), Germany (55), France (54), Sweden (54), the U.K. (53), and Australia (50) received neutral ratings?  Why are the one-party states of China (80 %) and Singapore (76) the top two nations in the Edelman Index with Government in China (81 %) and in Singapore (82) perceived to be the most trustworthy by their citizens?

Why is Government in most of the advanced democracies perceived to be either neutral or untrustworthy, rather than trustworthy (exceptions are the moderate ratings received by Government in the Netherlands and Sweden)?

In the Edelman Study, the dominant reasons for less trust in Government are, first, corruption or fraud, and second, incompetence or poor performance.  Similarly with the PTI, corruption reduction is the primary trustworthiness criterion for Government, while other criteria are poverty reduction, job creation, and fulfillment of campaign promises.  The neutral rating of Government in the Philippines means it has to work harder and smarter in reducing corruption and poverty and in creating jobs.

Going back to the advanced democracies, why is Government generally perceived to be either neutral or untrustworthy?  One reason, which is connected to the issue of competence, is articulated by Russell Hardin, a professor of politics at New York University:  A contemporary government’s “tasks may be so diverse and so complex that it must typically often fail in them, so that citizens continue to find it incompetent and, therefore lack confidence in it” (Hardin, 2006).

The other reason, for Hardin, is the tradition of Liberal Distrust or Skepticism in Government.  According to classical liberal thinkers like John Locke (1632-1704), David Hume (1711-1776), and Adam Smith (1723-1790), Government is necessary for public order, yet it is prone to abuse of power owing to its monopoly powers over the armed forces and many sectors in life.

There is no evidence that the influence of the tradition of liberal skepticism toward Government contributed to its neutral rating in the Philippines.  Of course, there is the folk wisdom about avoidance of excessive trust, which the prolific Filipino historian, Gregorio Zaide (1907-1986), articulated as: “Ang labis na pagtitiwala ay nagbubunga ng kamatayan [excessive trust leads to death].”
Going back to NGOs in Indonesia and the Philippines, why are they perceived to be less trustworthy and their ratings lower than a 20-nation average, where NGOs got highest marks since 2008?  Are there doubts about their helpfulness (benevolence and/or competence) towards those in need?  I believe these questions are worth pursuing for further research.

Why is business in Indonesia perceived to be more trustworthy than in the Philippines?  Does Indonesian business treat better its internal stakeholders (e.g. thru fairer compensation) and offer better value-for-money goods and services?

To restate some points:  Stronger linkages/partnerships with the Academe may help raise the trustworthiness of NGOs, Business and Government in the Philippines.  Clergy restraint in political involvement is an issue more for the urban elite.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Unconscious in the Self

The exercise of leadership, whether in governance, business, or religious institutions, is complex and risky because of the complexity of the following: the context, the self of the leader, and the relationship of leaders and followers (Karel San Juan, 2009).
A major aspect of the complexity of the self is the influence of unconscious desires, which though integral to the personality of every human agent, will rarely bear direct influence on the person’s behavior in everyday routines.  Unconscious desires may directly influence behavior in critical situations, which are circumstances or “situations that threaten or destroy the certitudes of institutionalized routines” (Anthony Giddens, Constitution of Society).
Unconscious desires constitute much, but not all, of the unacknowledged conditions of interaction, including the everyday routine.  These desires are fundamentally infantile organic wants.  Through the socialization process initiated by the parents or guardians, most infants learn to relate these wants to the expectations of others and thereby learn to “manage” these wants.  Giddens writes:

“Given that the modes of management of organic wants represent the first, and in an important sense the most all-embracing accommodation which the child makes to the world, it seems legitimate to suppose that a “basic security system” – that is, a primitive level of management of tensions rooted in organic needs – remains central to later personality development; and given that these processes occur first before the child acquires the linguistic skills necessary to monitor its learning consciously…
“they lie ‘below’ the threshold of those aspects of conduct that, learned later and in conjunction with the reflexive monitoring of such learning, are easily verbalized – thus ‘made conscious’ – by the older child or adult.” (Giddens, New Rules)
In a critical situation, the unconscious of a leader or a major participant can contribute directly to the production of unintended consequences of action.  An example is the case of somebody who is depressed because of the loss of a beloved person either by death or estrangement.  If the depression becomes protracted, the agent or leader can become more withdrawn or more demanding in his/her dealings with others (Giddens, Studies in Social and Political Theory). 
Further withdrawal or increased hostility represents an indirect and disorientated appeal for attention, love or forgiveness; this ambivalent behavior, however, can produce an effect that the depressed agent or leader does not really want: followers, relatives, acquaintances, or the estranged beloved might avoid the depressed person increasingly.  A continuing deterioration of their interaction increases the possibility of suicidal behavior on the part of the depressed.

The ambivalent behavior of the depressed agent is sustained by ambivalent memory-flashes about the beloved.  Facts and fancies of instances of having been snubbed, neglected, or offended by the beloved are recalled, which bring hostile feelings, which then are repressed.  These repressed feelings evoke the deep foreboding that one has actually been abandoned by the absent beloved.
The depressed agent carries a self-absorbing sense of guilt which twists the hostile feelings about the beloved into a pervading hostility to the self.  This shadowy hostility is self-punitive, punitive toward others, or both.  Thus, the agent becomes withdrawn, and can become hostile even toward friends.

The foreboding that one has been abandoned is influenced directly by infantile memory-flashes of those instances when the infant sensed that the nurturing object was absent.  In those moments, the infant feared that the absence was permanent and that the nurturer or guardian had abandoned it.

Good socialization or child-rearing accustoms an infant not only to the temporary absences of a guardian but also to the deferments of some organic pleasures to later moments.  The well-socialized child has learned that, first, a period of absence does not necessarily mean abandonment, and second, a deferment of pleasure can anticipate or bring more satisfaction.
Every well-socialized person, however, still retains unconscious, and thus non-reflexive and non-discursive, infantile pleasures and fears in the deepest recesses of the personality.  In a critical situation, these unacknowledged pleasures and fears can condition directly the action of a person.

Another example of how unconscious conditions can contribute to the production of unintended consequences is the case of an infantry company whose esprit de corps revolves on their devotion to the captain or commander.  In a critical situation like a battle, a strong-willed and admired captain can keep a company united and co-operative no matter how bad the battle is becoming.

In the minds of many of these infantrymen, the figure of their captain is colored by childhood feelings about their fathers or guardians.  Encouraged by emotive flashes of the charmed and contented dependence of childhood, they can immediately submit to the difficult tactical decisions of their captain.  Yet the more fervent their devotion to the captain, the stronger is the possibility that his sudden death in battle will trigger infantile panic and even desertion among his infantrymen.

Reflexive agency has boundaries: the unconscious and the unacknowledged conditions and the unintended consequences of action and interaction.  Leaders and their followers do make history, but especially in critical situations, the influence of the unconscious becomes strong and less indirect.  In such situations, what may appear already to be the most logical option may not likely be the option most existentially attractive to the leader(s).  To accept the existence of the unconscious implies that, in critical situations, observers and analysts have to be wary of overconfidence in the human capacity for critical reason and rational action.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Shared Mission in Prophetic, Kingly & Priestly Service

In the field of Catholic education, there is great necessity and opportunity to deepen the sense of shared mission especially among the lay, religious, and clerical educators.  For their “shared mission” as “builders of communion,” all educators in Catholic schools ought to undergo “shared formation” (Congregation for Catholic Education [2007]).

In shared formation, “the lay faithful themselves can and should help priests and religious in the course of their spiritual and pastoral journey” (Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful 61).  “Communion and mutuality in the Church are never one-way streets” (CICLSAL [2002],“Starting Afresh from Christ,” 31). 

Wise pastors and religious seek and welcome relevant feedback from lay persons as regards the outcomes of pastoral programs, the quality of the preaching and worship activities, and the personal conduct of pastoral agents.

The formation of the laity is a requirement for the work of evangelization by both the younger and older churches:
“The Gospel cannot become deeply rooted in the mentality, life and work of a people without the active presence of lay people.  Thus, from the foundation of a church very special care must be taken to form a mature Christian laity.” (Church’s Missionary Activity 21)

The catechetical and theological formation of the laity strengthens the prophetic ministry of the whole Church and helps the laity to proclaim in word and deed the Gospel in day-to-day life and in particular contexts.  Lay persons as catechists, Catholic school teachers, married theologians, and faith-inspired politicians and public servants have many opportunities to exercise their prophetic ministry.

Church leaders can strengthen the prophetic ministry of the laity in the following ways:
1. Support the theological education of lay people.
2. Include lay (single and married) theologians in seminaries (especially to teach sexual ethics, the sacrament of matrimony, Church history, Scripture).
3. Discover and develop gifted lay preachers in parishes and communities.

In countries of the Two-Thirds World, where many families of the lay faithful experience hunger and deprivation of basic needs from time to time, the prophetic ministry of the poor has to be recognized and developed.  The poor have to be empowered to tell their stories and to retell them from a faith perspective.  As the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines put it in 1991:

“The ‘Church of the Poor’ will also mean that the Church will not only evangelize the poor, but that the poor in the Church will themselves become evangelizers.  Pastors will learn to be with, work with and learn from the poor.  A ‘Church of the Poor’ will not only render preferential service to the poor but will practice preferential reliance on the poor in the work of evangelization.”  (PCP II, 132)

The pervasiveness and persistence of dehumanizing poverty and unnecessary violence in our contemporary world makes it imperative for the whole Church, and for every believer, to exercise better the kingly ministry by paying attention to the wisdom and folly, the fairness and unfairness, of the formulation and implementation of policies of the State and the Church.  

A major branch of the kingly ministry is the ministry of social action whose guiding principles include justice, peace, and the integrity of creation.

Church leaders can strengthen the kingly ministry of the laity in the following ways:
1. Intensify education on the Catholic Social Teachings especially on the rights and responsibilities of lay people in the worlds of politics and economics.
2. Ensure that the Parish Pastoral Council is fully functional in terms of personnel, resources,and responsibilities.
3. Open the membership of policy-making councils and boards (of trustees) of Catholic schools, hospitals and institutions to competent laity.
4. Make the Ministry of Financial Management in parishes and ecclesial communities fully functional, transparent and accountable especially when it comes to budgeting and resource mobilization.

Despite the grief and anguish of many people, especially the poor and the sick, throughout history down to our times, the faithful and merciful presence of the Spirit of Christ animates the priestly ministry of the whole Church of which every member constitutes “a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9).  

God’s people offer a sacrifice of praise day and night in liturgies and prayers and in the upliftment of hearts and minds to the Lord in the midst of day-to-day activities and struggles.

In the royal priesthood, there is basic equality in dignity of all the members, whether they happen to be ordained or not.  “The ordination of one should not become the subordination of another” (Peter Neuner).  The ordained priesthood and the common priesthood are meant to enhance their communion and to preserve both their distinction and their equal dignity.

One way Church leaders can strengthen the priesthood of the majority faithful is by inviting and involving them, especially those with musical and artistic talents, in the making of creative worship activities like children’s liturgies.

“When the lay faithful discover and live more and more their vocation and mission in the Church and in the world, the ordained will likewise discover the meaning of their own vocation and mission.Such a discovery on the part of both the clergy and the laity who were called not to compete but to complement each other will result in a deeper realization of the ministry and spirituality of all the baptized.” (PCP II, 417)

The Church is a mystery of communion and shared mission to make the open communion of the Holy Trinity more visible and tangible throughout the earth.  It is timely, first, to deepen understanding of the shared mission of all the disciples, both the majority and the minority faithful; second, to improve their co-responsibility and co-operation; third, to empower the laity especially through theological and professional formation.

The laity are secular because they are called to contribute to the sanctification of the world often in implicit ways especially in multireligious, multicultural, or pluralistic contexts.