On discipline

I’ve been hearing and reading the word “discipline” these past few days, online and offline, due to a certain politician down south seemingly throwing his hat into the ring called presidential elections. The way the word is carelessly bandied nowadays reminds me of this Facebook post saying that we need a change of mindset. Allow me to say that discipline is a mindset, and as such discipline is personal.

The Philippine social media is full of rants about laws being violated and rules not being followed; that there is a general breakdown in discipline and we need a leader who’d whip us into shape. I’ve “theorized” that we Filipinos are like Jews waiting for a messiah, that we Filipinos have serious daddy issues; these are the only explanations that I can think of regarding this “clamor” for a tough leader.

Change in mindset. What is there to change?

As I’ve said, I believe discipline is a mindset, and it is personal. Self-discipline is the key, but as every retreat master, psychotherapist, educator, and correction officer will tell you, it is hard. Ask someone who, through hard work and self-discipline lost a significant amount of body weight. Ask someone who, through diligent studies passed the board exams. Ask someone who, through tremendous self-control has stopped smoking.

So, it is hard. It is tough. We know at one point in our life we tried changing something in ourselves, but failed. And failed. And failed. And because we failed, we stopped. We become lazy.

We become lazy. We cross the street even if there is a pedestrian overpass. We throw our cigarette butts everywhere just because. And heaven knows in what multitude of ways we manifest our laziness.

So we can’t discipline ourselves. We become lazy in the end. And some of us want a leader to whip us into discipline?

Yes, because we are too lazy, we are willing to abdicate from our own personal responsibility and let others discipline us. We are longing for a mystical and forceful leader that will force us magically to become disciplined citizens.

The problem with such a leadership is that it is only effective because of fear. You will only comply with the laws and follow the rules because you are afraid of jail time. Or worse, be made food for the fishes.

Has anyone thought of complying with the laws and following the rules because doing so will benefit ourselves, our fellow Filipinos, and our country?

Again, we go back to change of mindset. It is time we begin to follow rules because doing so is for our own benefit, and our country’s. We need to start instilling discipline unto ourselves, for our common good. We need to unshackle ourselves from the chains of laziness and start working on our self-discipline.

No one can save us from laziness and lack of discipline but ourselves. And that starts with a change of mindset.

(Photo from The Baltimore Sun).