As the great teacher Mahatma Gandhi, said many years ago, the first evil in this century is “politics without principle. ” Ethics is the discipline dealing with right and wrong. The true worth of a nation is, in the final analysis, the true worth of its leaders and the people that they lead. If the leaders are good and committed to the service of the country and the people, and if the people themselves take active part in governance and select good leaders, a nation achieves great social, economic, and political heights.
But if the leaders are bad, and if the people themselves are foolish and naive and are easily fooled by the political abracadabras of their incompetent leaders, a nation remains stagnant, and the people themselves suffer. This has been the case with the country. A few years after the United States granted us our independence the country was among the best, if not the best in Asia. This was so because we had good leaders who really served the country and the people.
Too, there was less politics because there were only two political parties, which vied for political power. Likewise, large-scale graft and corruption was unheard of. People and government officials lived simple lives. But as years passed, drastic political and social changes came about. Politicians who only wanted political power and influence to further their personal interests surfaced. Power corrupts, so graft and corruption spread like forest fire.
Political leaders started playing the game of dirty politics. Cheating during elections, either through the use of guns and goons or the very effective dagdag-bawas scheme, became rampant. Some politicians even masterminded the killing of their political foes. The people themselves played dirty politics, selling their votes or exchanging them with food items, or blindly following political leaders without thinking of the country. It’s all because of the gratitude.
Until now the Filipinos remain complaining and disruptive. So it was not surprising that the country earned the ignoble distinction of being one of the most corrupt in the world. Even today the country remains in the intensive care unit and there is no prognosis of its recovery. A famous quote states that power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Honesty, moral integrity, fairness, self-discipline, and hard work are hardly ever seen in a politician nowadays. We can only count them by our bare hands.