by Francis J. Kong
There are times when I have to go to our domestic airports regularly.
There are so many out of town speaking engagements that bring me to the airport at early hours in the morning and as uncomfortable as this maybe it is now part of my life I have learned to live with. Many things happen in airports. Long lines, short lines, put your bags, remove your shoes, socks with holes socks without holes and some without socks… and for the life of me I cannot understand why people have to remove their slippers and sandals too and let it slide through the x-ray machine. They’re probably scanning for germs and bacteria. Part of the job I guess.
There are so many interesting people inside the airport. There are so many interesting people inside the lounge. And I say this without exaggeration, there has never been an airport experience of mine without running into someone I know or someone who happens to know me. A participant in my seminars, an audience in my talk or maybe somebody who would call my attention because they recognize me from this column. Overall, apart from the sleepiness and the predictable food inside the lounge my airport experiences have been pretty good. And then I am always on the lookout for drama. Drama that happens right before my eyes.
Big Shots, and Big People they come in different sizes and shapes and characters. Big Shots come with many body guards. One to carry his suitcase, another to pave the way so there won’t be traffic and delay, maybe one or two more whose only job is to look menacing. And may I say that they are quite good at what they are doing. I am sure security inside the airport is lacking and that is why they need to bring their personal guards with them.
Big Shots make a grand entrance. Here the drama is about to unfold. What a sight to behold. Accompanied by airport officials I presume because they wear those huge ID’s on their chest. These Big Shots need not fall in line. They are public servants you know and as such they expect to be served. And then I turn around and my smile meets the smiles of other passengers who begin to shake their heads. Maybe our thoughts are on the same wave length. What a reflection of our country. The values we hold dear. Perks and privileges of a democratic government is this it? I really don’t know.
Maybe the wise guy who said this was right:
• An autocratic government is run by an autocrat.
• An oligarchy is run by oligarchs.
• A communist government is run by communists.
• A monarchy is run by a monarch.
And a democratic government is run by demons….
Of course this is not true but when you see sights like these you tend to believe it is. The irony is that there is no respect and admiration from those who watch the drama unfolding. They shake their heads, they mumble words I cannot hear and then they move on. And then there are the Big People. I see them and I recognize them because they are known and they are famous. But they are inconspicuous and they try their best to stay that way. No fanfare no accompanying officials with huge ID on their chests and they do fall in line. Greet them and they greet you back. Move over and let them go first and they refuse with a smile, say a little “Thank you” and gain the admiration of people around them. These are not the Big Shots. These are the Big People.
There is a big difference between the Big Shots and the Big People. Humility is what differentiates them. Maybe I am just tired and maybe having to wake up so early just to go to the airport to catch my morning flight has made me critical and cynical and I apologize for this. But would you blame me if I wish I could see more public figures displaying humility and serving because this is what they are called to do?
We still have a lot of growing up to do don’t we? Borrowing a famous line from famous American comedienne Lily Tomlin and revising it a little for the local context: “”Ninety eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hardworking, honest Filipinos. It’s the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then, we elected them.”
Everything rises and falls on leadership and I pray to God that He gives us good leaders.
by Francis J. Kong