Charisma and Personalism22.04.10
Aired on April 22, 2010
Narration by Baben Lumapas
CHARISMA AND PERSONALISM
Let’s face it: elected officials need to have charisma. A leader, however brilliant, may not be able to fire up the public imagination without the ability to inspire.
In our political culture, having charisma and charm does mean a lot. This is because Philippine culture is personalistic. We prefer not to deal with structures, but with those who represent them to us. We like to engage in building connections and relationships with people, and these relationships do help us to get things done most of the time. We as a people know at heart what many thinkers have said of humans in general: that we are born into a network of relationships.
In politics, this means that people do relate to institutions at some level, but what counts more is who runs those institutions. It is okay to be fair and competent, yes, but more is demanded in dealing with people. Think about it. Many voters have chosen actors who have the ability to connect with people—that is a skill they develop in their line of work. In contrast, those who may have the necessary qualities for public office and yet seem distant and aloof very rarely make it.
In Greek, “charisma” has to do with grace, a gift we do not merit. In New Testament usage, it also has to do with the gifts which the Spirit gives for the good of the Church. It is meant to build up and not to tear the community down. It is meant towards growth and not destruction.
Hence, a charismatic leader can inspire people towards building something great.
The gift of inspiration which God gives some of our leaders, and also some among us, could be used to rally us to build a nation.
If we are open to the grace of God already working in all of us, we can build networks for growth in our communities. We can think of ways to use our friendships as influence for good within and beyond our communities to help other people, especially those who are neglected and exploited.
The strength of our culture is that we know inspiration and connections when we see them. Can we use this strength to build a nation, and a world, where God’s kingdom becomes a clearer reality?