A lady-friend recently shared how her daughter resorted to buying and using onion powder due to the ridiculously rising prices of onions in our country. Quite the practical thing to do, especially since a bottle of 80 grams of onion powder only costs P53 and tastes like the real thing! Powder can also last longer than fresh onions. According to my friend, “lasang sibuyas naman, pumikit ka lang.” I am neither a fan nor an avid user of onions on any dish or sauces. But to my friend, nothing compares to the crisp and moist fresh onions especially when accentuated with watwat vinegar, fish sauce (patis), honey and Knorr seasoning. Truly, even this herb expediency dressed up in faux-unselfish casuistry can only step back when weighed against evidence of what’s raw and real. The issue is nothing of the feeble kind. A commodity as basic as onion runs straight to the lives and bellies of every household.
The rising cost of this product seems to rival the rapidity of the bullet train; everyone is shaken if not bewildered. But not perhaps to such a degree as our President, concurrently serving as the Secretary of Agriculture, who seems intent on convincing himself, more than anyone, that his regimen will work to address this “national” issue. While economists still run short of answers as to why onion prices in the Philippines are far more uncontrollable and costlier than in any other country (P685/kilo versus $4/kilo in the US, for example), we are on the threshold of being persuaded that a leader who does not have the reins of power over the pricing of a basic commodity as “sibuyas” is not expected to have control of the rest of the economy.
Isolated matter, some might say, but yet his recent “rigodon” (a quadrille dance) in replacing and placing back the AFP Chief serves as another example of not having full control or, worse, an eroding political will. And with nary a solution to the rising prices of rice and eggs—still in the family of basic commodities as onions by the way, a solid conclusion beyond a mere hypothesis protrudes what a PBBM administration can actually look like—one that has a weak grasp of the truth and employs ersatz-altruistic alternatives: A formula of onion powder surrogate to fresh onions.
The Filipino spectators of today have seen nothing much so far than a display of grandeur and flamboyance. In due deference to our President, he is likely constrained by the absence of his personal set of trusted advisers and competent technocrats when he took over. But as a leader, he is expected to have a clear understanding of his “flock” and respond with propriety to every critical situation such as rising prices of basic commodities. The disappointing decisions, or the lack of an iron will and hand, to the sugar and onion ignominy of late clearly bespeak of a Chief whose feet dangle above ground and whose mind is focused somewhere else. Simply put, the lack of political reins over challenges in the economy, the armed service, and whatever needs to be controlled is disturbing.
Between the lack of knowledge and the lack of good intentions, the former seems more daunting in running a country. Anyone can have the best of intentions for others but if he lacks a fair clench of what is true, basic, and logical, then all his good intentions become futile and meaningless. Alluding to a pastor’s interesting illustration to this proposition is an anecdote about a well-meaning motorist who by happenstance passes by a road riddled with debris of broken tree branches and live electricity cables. His intentions will make him think of a way for other motorists to be steered clear of the danger. He could remove and place the cables somewhere beyond the risk perceived. But if he has the sufficient knowledge, it would bid him well not to have anything to do with, much less touch the live wires! For in thinking best for others, he runs the peril of getting electrocuted in an instant. Again, the backdrop of lack of knowledge versus lack of good intentions instructs us to invest in resolving the former.
The illustration brings a herd of lessons for all of us to consider, including our President. For it is not so much a lack of faith/good intentions that brings us to peril, rather it is a lack of knowledge of the truths that have long been available to us. Surely, a resort to some far-fetched ideas as “band-aid” solutions to our woes may offer some form of relief, but we who should know better must not merely accept these artificial remedies. Not that we reject their complementary function, but our mental and spiritual constitution may do way better with the real thing. And a classic example that ought never to be replicated is the confluence of PBBM’s “alternative” regimen—“rigodon,” importation, excessive travels, among others, which bespeak of the lack of steady knowledge on what is logical, forthright, and truthful.
To settle for the alternative and not the real thing because of the absence of knowledge of the truth is akin to being disloyal.
In the spiritual realm, disloyalty to God’s Word and His ways equates with peril. Thus the prophet Hosea echoed God’s charge against Israel for the latter’s infidelity, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. X x x” (Hosea 4:6). What made lack of knowledge dangerous that time is explained in the rest of verse 6: “Because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” This should be taken in the context of the opening verse of the chapter, which states that Israel failed to acknowledge the LORD as their God (Hosea 4:1). The people did not simply lack knowledge, they actively rejected it! For a believer, therefore, God’s truth has always been there. It is merely a matter of reaching out to grasp it, and accepting His ways. Being consumed by His wisdom ends in greater knowledge. One does not gain wisdom just by knowing too much of so many other things. As Charles Spurgeon expressed, “Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool.”
There is no room for resorting to artificial, much less fake choices, which, in the long run, deprive us of the actual gains and unspeakable joys from seeking and heeding the truth. Along this direction comes the most apt scriptural directive for all of us to observe, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Resorting to the Word always offers the solution to all kinds of crisis, economic or personal. Hope springs eternal to those who are knowledge pursuers and truth seekers! Nothing fake or artificial such as onion powder, nothing surrogate or ad hoc as a rigodon; just straight and unadulterated knowledge and fear of our Heavenly Father.
A former infantry and intelligence officer in the Army, Siegfred Mison showcased his servant leadership philosophy in organizations such as the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Malcolm Law Offices, Infogix Inc., University of the East, Bureau of Immigration, and Philippine Airlines. He is a graduate of West Point in New York, Ateneo Law School, and University of Southern California. A corporate lawyer by profession, he is an inspirational teacher and a Spirit-filled writer with a mission.
For questions and comments, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.