Weekly Reflections: Political dynasties
By REV. LUNA DINGAYAN
Second of two parts
Negative effects of political dynasties
There are negative effects of political dynasties as shown in Israel’s history and also in our own. First of all, it leads to corruption and injustice. According to the Scriptures, when Prophet Samuel made his sons judges in Israel, “they did not follow his example; they were interested only in making money, so they accepted bribes and did not decide cases honestly.” The saying, “Like father, like son” or “Like mother, like son,” is not always true. The father or mother may be honest, faithful, and genuine in his service to the people, but this is not necessarily the case with the son or daughter.
Samuel was not only a prophet; he was also priest and judge. He was a very powerful person. Making his sons judges when he was already old and about to die was playing with the nagging temptation of political dynasty. The problem is that his sons didn’t have the same faith and trust in God like their father. Apparently, they never thought that being a judge is a calling from God; a divine responsibility entrusted to them to be exercised with a sense of justice and love for the people. To be a leader is not supposed to be an inheritance from their father to be used for anything they wish, especially to satisfy their desire for money even to the point of perverting justice. To be a leader is to be a servant of the people.
The Ampatuan Massacre in Maguindanao is perhaps one of the worst, if not the worst expression in recent times of the negative effects of political dynasty. The Ampatuans have ruled Maguindanao, like their own fiefdom, for many years. And they have no qualms in physically eliminating anyone who would threaten their grip on political power.
Moreover, political dynasty is undemocratic. It is probably consistent with monarchial, dictatorial, and other authoritarian governments, but not with “the government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” It is against the basic tenets of genuine democracy. True, we are supposed to be a democratic country, but the democracy we have is an elitist kind of democracy in which political dynasty can thrive so well.
Prophet Samuel had a confrontation with the people who were clamoring for change from a relatively egalitarian and decentralized government that they had for almost two hundred years, into a monarchial form of government to be adapted from other nations.
Apparently, the people didn’t know what they were clamoring for. They wanted to get rid with political dynasty, but then they embraced monarchy, a system that promotes and practices political dynasty. The Lord instructed Prophet Samuel to listen to the people and to give them what they wanted, but nevertheless warn them of the negative effects of monarchy. True, the Israelites had to suffer the abuses and injustices of the monarchs that ruled Israel in the years that followed.
Likewise, we ousted the Dictator, because we wanted a democratic form of government. We wanted to get rid of political dynasty. Hence, we enshrined it in our constitution. But, unfortunately, what we got is not a genuine democracy, but an elitist democracy wherein opportunities for political leadership is given only to those rich and powerful families in our country. The anti-political dynasty provision of our Constitution is almost forgotten. No wonder, graft and corruption and the abuse of power and authority abound in our country.
Similarly, the Israelites wanted to have a monarchy under God’s reign so that the king was not supposed to be an absolute ruler but God’s servant. What they got, however, was an absolute monarchy wherein the kings followed their hearts’ desires rather than what were enshrined in God’s laws. Consequently, the Israelites suffered the abuses of the kings and their country was destroyed.
The problem of political dynasty in Israel was never resolved until Jesus came with a new teaching about leadership. In Mark 10:42-45, Jesus says, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the heathen have power over them; and the leaders have complete authority. This, however, is not the way it is among you. If one of you wants to be great, you must be the servant of the rest; and if one of you wants to be first, you must be the slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served; he came to serve and to give his life to redeem many people.”
However, this concept of servant-leadership has been distorted nowadays by politicians who project themselves as servants of the people during campaign period, but servants of themselves, their families and friends, when they are already in power.
And so, where does our future hope lie? Jesus Christ our Lord did not go to Pilate, to Herod, or even to Caiphas – the political and religious leaders of his day – to introduce a change in political leadership that is in keeping of God’s reign. Rather he went to the ordinary masses of people, who are “like sheep without a shepherd” and patiently and lovingly taught them by word and by deeds what it means to be a leader and a servant at the same time. For Jesus, only an enlightened and empowered citizenry can make a meaningful change in our political landscape. #nordis.net