Bernardo M. Villegas
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Love Letter from Pope Francis (Part 2)

           Then the Pope elaborates on the expression “Love is not jealous.”  This means that love has no room for feeling bad about another person’s good fortune.  Envy is a form of sadness provoked by another’s successes, a feeling that clearly shows that we are not concerned about the happiness of others but only with our own well-being.  As the Pope clarifies: “Whereas love makes us rise above ourselves, envy closes us in on ourselves.  True love values the other person’s achievements.  It does not see him or her as a threat.  It frees us from the sour taste of envy.”  Peace within a family would be unsettled if the spouses—especially in these times of “professionalitis”—compete with one another for professional prestige.  The success of one could provoke the envy of the other, even if such feeling is hidden.  The same can occur in what is known as “sibling rivalry” in which brothers or sisters try to compete with one another in some areas of excellence (sports, studies, social standing, etc.) and become envious of the successes of one or the other of their siblings.  This unhealthy family climate is exacerbated if parents have the habit of making comparisons.  If parents truly love their children, they should respect the individuality and uniqueness of each and should avoid all comparisons that could humiliate those who are inferior.    

          Within the community of persons that constitute a business, the same principle of the uniqueness of each has to apply.  As Pope Francis wrote, “Love inspires a sincere esteem of every human being and the recognition of his or her own right to happiness.  I love this person, and I see him or her with the eyes of God, who gives us everything ‘for our enjoyment.’   As a result, I feel a deep sense of happiness and peace.  This same deeply rooted love also leads me to reject the injustice whereby some possess too much and others too little.  It moves me to find ways of helping society’s outcasts to find a modicum of joy.  That is not envy, but the desire for equality.”  These considerations obviously apply to the duty of management to give preferential option to the lowest ranks of their workers who are the least paid and are literally struggling to keep body and soul together.  True love for the rank and file would motivate management to strictly pay a “just family wage” or the “threshold family income” that takes into account the needs of the entire family and not only the individual worker.  In the booming, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector, authentic love for the workers would motivate the managers to exhaust all the means to protect their workers from psychological maladies or moral turpitude as a result of working during unholy hours.  Owners and managers of these firms should not just shrug off the high frequencies of drug addiction, mental disturbances or sexually transmitted diseases among their workers as “part of the game.”

          A “bright and cheerful home”, using a phrase of St. Josemaria Escriva, Founder of Opus Dei, can only be achieved if each member of the household is always thinking of what he can do for the others, instead of being obsessed with one’s own personal comfort, pleasure, or happiness.  A clear sign of selfishness within the family is arrogance, constantly speaking about oneself, always wanting to be the center of attention.  “Love is not boastful” wrote St. Paul.  Not to be boastful means that we do not become “puffed up” before others.  It means not showing off and having a real sense of reality (humility is truth).  Some think that they are important because they are more knowledgeable than others; they want to lord it over them.  Yet what really makes a person important is a love that understands, shows concern, and embraces the weak.  In the best-selling book The Way, St. Josemaria Escriva wrote “Love more than in giving is in understanding.”  Pope Francis has been constantly preaching that it is important for Christians to show their love by the way they treat family members who are less knowledgeable about the faith, weak or less sure in their convictions.  It is unfortunate that the opposite occurs frequently:  the supposedly mature believers within a family become unbearably arrogant.  In family life the logic of domination and competition about who is the most intelligent or powerful destroys love.

          The same atmosphere of mutual understanding should prevail within a business entity.  The more intelligent should help those who are slow to understand.  The stronger should come to the aid of the weaker.  This requirement of love within the organization should be balanced with the need to create a competitive spirit among the employees as they are challenged to make the fullest use of their talents.  But a healthy competitive spirit does not have to lead to a disrespect for the dignity of the others in the same way that in some sports like football, given the right values nurtured by the coach or manager among the players, competition is still very compatible with the fullest respect for the dignity of each player, whether in one’s own team or in the opposing team.  The admonition of St. Peter applies both to the family and to a business entity:  “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility towards one another for ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ “

          In contrast with the brutal sincerity that is encouraged within families of some societies, in which children are encouraged to show disrespect for their parents, true love is more in keeping with the Filipino or Asian sensitivity to the feelings of others.  This is captured in the statement “Love is not rude.”  Love is not impolite; neither is it harsh.  We have to shout this to the four winds to counteract the bad example of some leaders who think that foul language and offensive jokes are signs of strong leadership.  As Pope Francis writes: “Love abhors making others suffer.  Courtesy ‘is a school of sensitivity and disinterestedness’ which requires a person ‘to develop his or her mind and feelings, learning how to listen, to speak and at certain times, to keep quiet.”  Every human being is bound to live agreeably with those around him.  Genuine love is incompatible with a negative attitude that readily points to other people’s shortcomings while overlooking one’s own.  Those who love are capable of speaking words of comfort, strength, consolation, and encouragement.  Every good business enterprise should enshrine in its corporate culture this loving kindness among its employees.  It is the only way to build bonds, cultivate relationships, create new networks of integration and knit a strong social fabric—characteristics of a well-functioning human resource base.  It would be a pity if we should lose what foreign employers and other observers appreciate in Filipino workers:  the tender and loving care that they are able to render to other human beings, especially their clients or customers. (To be continued).