I just recently finished rereading Nicolo Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’, and a constant theme in it is the idea of the ends justifying the means no matter what. In the reading, Machiavelli states that a prince should do all that he can for the good of his empire. It doesn’t matter what his methods are, as long as his intentions are pure and the results are worth it. This was shown by how Machiavelli showed the prince the wisdom of only appearing to have the values that the public want rather than possessing all of them in truth, especially if possessing these values and maintaining them will cause him to lose control of his kingdom. Machiavelli also believed that each action a prince does should either benefit him, his reputation or his kingdom. And that each good deed a prince does should be known so that he gains the reputation of being a kind and liberal leader.
I believe that this mindset would benefit Philippine politics greatly. However, its implementation would require first and foremost, an able and unwavering ruler. The ruler must truly have the country’s best interests in mind before he starts bending rules and breaching protocols. I believe that once you start being less than honest, it’s difficult to go back to the way you once you were. Innocence is a trait that when lost, becomes next to impossible to regain. And the election of a capable leader seems to be one of the hardest tasks to ask of the Filipino voters. Being that the election process has begun to resemble a nepotistic popularity contest, it doesn’t seem as if anyone will be able to step up and implement this approach anytime soon. What our leaders seem to be good at doing however, is looking out for their own self-interests at the expense of the country and its citizens. They seem to have no qualms about overstepping boundaries as long as it results in fatter pockets. The execution of Machiavelli’s advice to the prince regarding liberality is also a common sight in the Philippines, especially during campaign season. The smiling faces of politicians pasted all over the city, cheesy slogans superimposed, tarpaulins highlighting their accomplishments and the various projects they’ve funded, all of these serve merely to influence the public and make them believe that each politician is fully committed to their service.
Thinking that the ends justify the means is an outlook that’s sure to take you far in life, as long as you don’t care how many feet you step on or backs you climb upon in order to reach the top. It means being so completely committed to your goals that you stop considering the other people around you. I’d like to think that when push comes to shove, I’ll be able to adopt this way of thinking. I want to be the kind of person that goes after what she wants with the sort of whole-hearted determination normally associated with kings and conquerors. But I’m scared that I’m too soft, that when it comes down to it and I’m one step away from achieving my dreams, I’ll pull away rather than risk crushing someone else’s. I’ve always been empathetic perhaps even too much so. People’s feelings have always mattered to me and I don’t think I would be able to desensitize myself in order to get the job done. Machiavelli may not agree with my style but I refuse to stoop to his, no matter how effective it may be.
Flora Anne R. Palabrica, 2012-24581