Going abroad can give you a whole new perspective, if you choose to let it so. Sometimes, these musings translate into disgust at your current perspective, resulting in things like continuous raging at how incompetent or ineffective something is (I admit I do so a lot) – I’m sure you’ll be able to relate. But the challenge is – and I write this as a reminder to myself too – how to translate reflection into, well, a challenge, a challenge to see opportunity where one would normally see provisions for criticism.
This is the exact feeling I have right now. I just came from Japan, and family and friends alike marvel at how clean, organized, and disciplined things are in that country. We are talking about the world’s third-largest economy, which was until very recently the second-largest one, and it happens to be perhaps much less than 10% the size of its predecessors. Meaning, if Japan were as large as the US and/or China, and the GDP per capita remained as is, it could very well eclipse the US an amount of times in the two-digits as the world’s biggest economy. But I digress.
I said it was clean, organized, and disciplined. Let’s take a look at the third word, disciplined. In my last post, I wrote about the need for the education system – not just in the Philippines, but across the world; the education system itself – to be revolutionized to include social responsibility from the onset. The reason I call this essay “Part Two” of that post is because the notion of discipline, for me, is so intertwined with CSR – especially CSR 3.0 – that they are dependent on each other.
How so? Well, to be a good citizen who is being socially responsible and is actually making said efforts sustainable, so much discipline is needed – more so if one is self-employed and dictates everything for themself. When you’re in charge of your life, it is so easy to lose track of your higher purpose thanks to many temptations around, such as the pursuit of money and power, or even just comfort, at the expense of others. The discipline to keep yourself grounded in your values and raison d’être is the most powerful force pushing you to strive for the best in your CSR. (I know this, because I sometimes lack it.) And when one is very disciplined, they know what must be and what must not be done, among others. Should they be well-disciplined in CSR 3.0, this will not be a problem though there be many bumps and cracks along the way.
So there emerges what amounts to a virtuous cycle between the two. And this is what I hope to achieve myself in living a CSR life.
Can we say Japan (and even countries like Singapore and South Korea) grew so rapidly in a relatively short time because of discipline? Very much so. During my first BCYF event, the 3rd Philippine Conference on Research in CSR, the keynote speaker, Dr. Rebecca Kim Chung Hee, said that CSR already existed in Asia – long before the concept became formalized in America – but not necessarily as a part of business. Rather, it was already deep-seated into its society. The Philippines has bayanihan, the Confucians have the commitment to others, and so on. Perhaps this is how the aforementioned powerful Asian economies grew fast for such small countries – they managed to keep to their commitment to their society, their country.
It even translates into everyday life. In my trip to Japan, and even Taiwan, things were so orderly. Littering was not to be found (or if it was, it was cleaned up very quickly), everyone stuck to the rules, and there were even distinct, homogenous lines in the escalators. The right side of the escalator was for the line of people who weren’t in a hurry, while the left side was devoted to those who were in a rush. Even with no rules that there should be an orderly manner of exiting the station, it was an unwritten rule already. And in Japan, everything that had a schedule began right on the dot – if it said the train left at 6:39 pm, it would leave at 6:39 pm irregardless, not one minute early, not one minute late.
Now, normally, visiting Filipinos would be amazed at these, and become angry and bitter that things weren’t so in their home country. But the irony is that they themselves hold the key to emulating the ways in those parts of the world. If everyone recognizes they have their own social responsibility – and no one doesn’t have a social responsibility to take – and act on it, then I am pretty sure we would have a much better place to live in. And again, as CSR 3.0 teaches, it doesn’t have to – shouldn’t, even – be in business or work only; it’s an all-encompassing characteristic down to the humblest action. Things like queuing up properly, being right on time, and the like already matter very much as these provide the backbone to building the nation for God’s greater glory.
My colleague, Ms. Noreen Bautista of BCYF’s ISED department, shared with us earlier a link on India’s becoming the only country with legislated CSR. This is in itself a huge step forward, but it is only 50% – or much less, even – of the solution. The greater part of the solution lies in implementing the law effectively and efficiently. And it’s not just in India where that challenge lies; it lies everywhere – and once again, it must begin with ourselves.
Not implementing properly would be akin to having a personal social responsibility commitment or personal governance agenda, but not living it out. Then, what would be the use of such? There must be a process of learning, and results based on said process, lest we cannot say for sure that we are socially responsible or at least trying to be such.