Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Return of the King

Philippine Election and the Search for the Filipino Soul
Fr. Edwin A. Gariguez

With the coming election in May 2010, the Filipino people are again hoping to elect leaders expected to deliver the country from seeming hopelessness and perennial suffering of the great majority. Politician-candidates are aware of this expectation and so they portray themselves as the expected Messiahs destined to realize the people’s dream for a promising future. Their campaign ads treat the people to a foretaste of wonderland where the hearts’ deepest desires are expected to be fulfilled. All the hullabaloos about platforms of governance are nothing but further formulations of empty promises well-crafted to allure the people into the trap.

The motif for deliverance is intentionally being played up to suit the campaign script. Admittedly, people are enthusiastically craving for the “Return of the King,” a messianic Aragorn in the movie series, The Lord of the Ring. The legendary king is someone who can lead the country to victory against all the evil forces threatening us. And all the politicians have no qualms posturing themselves as the predestined saviors whose reign will bring about the most awaited period of peace and prosperity.

Properly understood in Jungian psychology, the symbolism for the return of the archetypal King stands for the search for the noble soul in our collective consciousness as a people. The image of the King points out not only to a literal head or leader but it is a personification of the Filipino soul. Thus, the expected deliverance is associated with the dream for the regeneration of all that is good and noble, the inherently transcendent values in Filipino soul.

Ironically, the electoral contest is, more often than not, characterized by wheeling and dealing, pre-occupation with selfish interest, deception and maneuverings, unprincipled accommodations, and all the dirty tactics symptomatic of worsening moral malaise. Generally, power struggles among the politicians are reflective of the fight for conquest and dominance, with the victorious faction of the elite grabbing the privileges and rewards that come with the leadership position. Political leadership does not only spell social prestige but a great opportunity to get much richer as well. And we know some politicians who “invest” in electoral process, for they know that being in public office is more profitable than engaging in legitimate business.

Thus, when we dream of the “Return of the King” in the Philippine context, we dream for a moral transformation that will effectively reverse the prevailing direction of political exercise. Guided by the inner power of the soul, the present political structure can still be redeemed from its despicable status to a more dignified vocation provided that motivation for holding positions of leadership will be truly purified. We need to recover the sense of patriotism and self-sacrifice necessary to convince and move our leaders to genuinely serve the common good instead of pursuing their selfish agenda. We need moral regeneration in the present leadership who will re-enact the selfless heroism, in the tradition of Aragorn, Legolas and the Hobbits. Until we find this heroic character in our leaders, we will keep our endless watch for the “Return of the King.”

We await for the transformation of society. And that is only possible with the genuine transformation that should happen from within. The Return of the King is the triumph of the Filipino soul!

To dream for the Return of the King is to dream for the transformation of the whole socio-economic order by affirming the positive cultural energies and distinctive Filipino spirituality. The Return of the King means to regain our connectedness to our soul. We reconstruct society by harnessing the inner power of the “loob,” by finding the primordial bond of solidarity embedded in our “pakikipagkapwa-tao,” and by affirming the deepest compassion in our “pagmamalasakit.” This challenge for cultural transformation is to move towards a cultural orientation that promotes the common good rather than personal interests, that transforms organized greed into organized care!

And our people continue to crave for the Return of the King!