Why back to Basics?

When I was invited to give a talk to the illustrious gentlemen of RCMC, I was challenged to bring out what I thought the youth could do to build our nation. I was fresh out of college then. I could not give them a talk on economics, politics, business and what have you that may be needed to build our nation. For sure, they were more knowledgeable than I in those fields.


I went to the basics—what we all have in common and what we all should strive to be whether we are young or old. I was then speaking to a relatively much older crowd. But these are universal principles common to all men and women at all times. Hence, they are easily understood even when I talk to a child or a mature person, a white or a black person, a Christian or a Muslim, whatever be one’s creed, race or nationality. These universal principles, tackled as a whole in Chapter 2, are what constitute the paradigm for nation building that will now unfold.


What is the basic contribution of a young person in nation building? Himself or herself, because in practical terms, compared to his elders, he does not have anything much.


But we should not stop there. That self, if it has to contribute to the well-being of our nation, has to be formed in the right way. One of the articles in Chapter 4 on “the need for formation” precisely tackles this. But let me emphasize that unless we are properly formed, we could not expect to contribute to nation building. Just look at cases of juvenile delinquencies. Before we fight against the social ills that plague our country like the ones mentioned above, we have to start ‚fighting‛ with ourselves.Before we dream of changing the world, we have to start changing ourselves. We have to undergo serious formation. In the end, even those social ills may be traced from a lack of formation of the people who caused them.


There are two possibilities here. Either we undergo the necessary formation to help build our nation or we become a menace or at best a cute little problem in our society. Just like becoming wine or vinegar. Both have similar raw materials but depending on the process they undergo, one becomes wine and another, vinegar. Yes, the process is important, which includes the physical and moral environment where one grows.


One has to be clear with his goals, which have to be united to his Ultimate End. That End, which we should keep in mind as we pursue the minor ends that we have in this life, provides the means and the direction in our life. The problem is when we live life as if it is just one activity after another, without a sense of purpose, a sense of direction, a sense of the End.


Why is this important? A little diversion now from one’s End, when one is young, may not be noticeable but if you project that diversion for several years, it would mean going astray. It was a little diversion that turned into a habit, then into a lifestyle, up to such point that one does not notice that he has gone too far from his End. Just like something that is meant to be wine turning into vinegar. You will understand this more clearly as you go through each part of the paradigm for nation building below.


This personal formation that is needed by each one in order to contribute to nation building is likened to a foundation. It is common knowledge that the higher the building, the deeper and stronger its foundation should be. And what are the components of this foundation? Several. But they could be classified into three general categories, as my friends in the civil engineering studies confirmed: the support component which could be made of wood or most usually, steel; the small components of gravel, sand and pebbles; and the component that puts all these together, the cement.

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