Memory of things to come

. . . is the latest topic of my Trade Tripper column in this Friday-Saturday issue of BusinessWorld. Excerpts:

"Hence, the value of institutions. And why the weakness of such in our society also signals the weakness of our society. Every institution, whether it be the family, schools, church, marriage, government, professions, all make certain demands on its members. If the institution is weak, the demands and the discipline imposed are weakened as well. Institutions serve to keep a fair amount of standards imposed. Obviously, blogging, for example, serves an important social and public function. I blog. But without the discipline and rigor that journalism imposes, the reliability and security necessary for blogging to fully reach its public service potential will not be attained. Michael Jordan can do all those miraculous shots because he mastered the basics of dribbling and shooting. Picasso became great after learning to perfect every style of painting. Bill Gates, before becoming the gazillionaire he is today, started out as an extremely focused computer programmer. If you can’t do the small things well, how can you expect to do the big things properly?

Another value of institutions is it serves to protect us from our frailties. One problem I have with our society is that the inadequacy of one serves to put a stop to the progress of the rest. An example is our allowing clearly malfunctioning road vehicles on the streets when any other society would have banned them. Another is our unwillingness to punish society’s malefactors. What we’re doing is that we allow the welfare of the public and the country to suffer for a mere few that could not keep up their end of the bargain. This is false compassion. In fact, this is not compassion – period. It’s actually selfishness. We as a people are just so afraid and concerned about our own weaknesses that, instead of striving to be better as other people would, we resort to condoning other’s weaknesses in the hope that we would get the same undeserved absolution rather than being strong and face the consequences. Ironically, it’s this fear that’s limiting our ability to take care of those truly unfortunate. And it’s this fear that’s destroying our people, our country, and the future of our children."