OPINION | Leadership in crisis

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IN the midst of all the unprecedented and consequential deaths and economic destructions, the coronavirus is causing the CNMI and throughout the world, its most cruelties effect is the “force-denial” of families to care for their love ones in their dying moment. What a surreal hopeless case to witnessed this heartbreaking and an unbelievably hard-wrenching phenomenon taking the CNMI and the world by the unstoppable, invincible and an army of one force, the coronavirus.

Daniel Ogo Quitugua

This virus has caused so much unprecedented physical devastations that its toxicity is crapping into our human emotion with all its elements of fear and anxieties. Even though health officials have been concerned about a possible pandemic, no one in leadership was really prepared playing catch-up to fight the virus. Even the President of the United States is struggling to have a pacifying and consistent message to decrease fear and avoid panic in this pandemic atmosphere.

Covid-19 pandemic shows how disposable human life is in the context of communal survival to a number of hardcore frigid politicians. Take for example Republican Lt. Governor Dan Patrick of Texas who, during his appearance on Fox news, poignantly said that if the economy is to be rescued, he was willing to scarifies human life. What a paradoxical statement coming out from the mouth of a Republican conservative politician. This kind of thought is actually not surprising coming from Republicans. But as cruel and heartless it may sound, there is a bit of wisdom behind that thought. The analogy of “to save your arm I need to cut off your fingers” fits the narrative but morality and the American of “united-we-stand” spirit drives our nation to save as many as possible.

So, what is the take away from this conversation. Fundamentally, it is about leadership. The competence of leadership that is required in the middle of an acute crisis simply can’t be overstated enough because the survival of a nation or community rest principally on the quality of leadership in good and bad times. Effective governance is predicated on Experience, Wisdom, Morality and TRUST. The absence of these prerequisite characteristics in a relationship between the leader and followers can only breed discontent and contempt. TRUST is the essence of a true leader which imbue confidence and influence human behavior.

Right now, Governor Torres has imposed social distancing and other health advisories to stem the spread of this fatal virus. Controlling people’s behaviors are critically important to our daily survival. But if half of our citizens are indifference to his call to behave collectively and accordingly because of our distrust of him, our community is faced with a real man-made crisis as we are dealing with a very unpredictable enemy, the covid-19 pandemic. Mistrust of leadership certainly could exacerbate our survival in the middle of a pandemic crisis. Our political situation is extremely dreadful and our survivability and safety is at risk.

In critical moments like what we are facing now, our option is finite, either survival or death. This option becomes extremely worrisome and acute especially when our own government is concurrently suffering from a leadership crisis of its own making. So, who do we turn to for moral strength and solace? As Christians we resort to our believer for spiritual redemptions and intervention.

Never in the political history of the NMI since the end of Second World War in 1945, did we ever find ourselves in this predicament. The lives of citizens are placed at risk because the entrusted leaders, through their own misdeeds, lost the explicit TRUST of the very people they pledged to protect and defend. A travesty of governance!

As much as we don’t trust Governor Torres, and I know so many people in our community have factual, ethical and moral reason not to, unfortunately, he is the leader at the moment (at least for the next 120 days) and we must try to follow his executive orders and other policy directives on the virus.

The recent results of growing number of people in our community who tested positive for the covid-19, and one that passed away, should force our fidelity to ourselves and rely on one another and take full responsibility for our own safety and the safety of our fellow citizen. Let us follow all health advisories and be loyal and vigilant to our collective duty in practicing good personal hygiene, and by doing so, we will survive this hardship with or without a TRUSTED leader.

Prayer for our responders

In our private moment under home seclusion, let’s offer a prayer to our men and women (first responders) who are putting their own life and the lives of their family at risk to protect us from this deadly virus. In their faithful performance of their duty I offer this copied prayer.

The light of God - surround you

The love of God - enfold you

The power of God – protect you

The presence of God – watch over you

The mind of God – guide you

The law of God – direct you

Where ever you are – God be your strength and harbor

The writer is a resident of Kanat Tabla, Saipan.

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