Saturday, August 06, 2005

A good man in politics

Today's Philippine Daily Inquirer has for its front page a rather large picture of Senator Raul Roco gesticulating behind a lectern, with the following words from the late senator prominently superimposed on the picture:

When I was 20, I wanted to change the world; at 30, I wanted to change my country; at 60, I realized I wanted only to change myself.

The news report didn't say specifically during which occasion Senator Roco uttered the words. But what could he have meant with that cryptic statement? Did Sen. Roco grow old to be a selfish man ? Because if you seek the literal meaning of the sentence, that's what it says. Was Sen. Roco's political life a case of narrowing altruism?

I think Sen. Roco must have wanted to to use the verb can rather than the verb want, but settled on the latter because using the former would sound defeatist for a presidentiable. The sentence, as I think Sen. Roco must have truly meant, is:

When I was 20, I thought I could change the world; at 30, I thought I could change my country; at 60, I realized I could only hope to change myself.

The Filipino people should have elected Sen. Roco as president back in 1998 when he was still healthy. Among our politicians in the national stage, it's only Roco--only he--who has managed to emerge as a decent and magnanimous man. It is the saddest commentary on our country's politics that a man who seemed infinitely superior could miserably lose to petty middlings. Think about it: A good man in politics is a failure.


R. O. said...

Of course, Roco was just appropriating a popular quote attributed to a bishop of Canterbury, which essentially says, If I hope to change the world, change has to begin with me.

Ronnel said...


The problem with that bishop of Canterbury quote is that one will get bogged down changing oneself, there'll be not much time left to change the world :-)

R. O. said...

You have a point. The quote is just all about priorities, the hierachy of change that needed to be done, which is only logical. It implies that once I have changed myself, then that's the time I can change the world. Then again, changing oneself can take a lifetime, so maybe it's better to want to change the world and hope to change oneself along with it, although anyone can always rebut, How the he_l can you change the world when you can't even change yourself. This is getting to be a chicken-and-egg thing. There must be a middle way here. :)

makoy said...

amen to that.. i voted for Roco..

however, the concept of change according to the quote was clouded by the ambiguity of the word itself.. someone said, internal change is the most decisive.. collective change springs from it.. what change did Roco want for himself.. is it about his political stance?