The reality of a hidden agenda is so constant that only the most naïve can assume a life without it. One can more realistically assume there is rather than there is none. While the direction for transparency is getting more popular, it still has a long way to go. Secrecy has been a way of life for so long, especially in governance or conflict, that its efficient use is considered a talent, even a virtue. Read Sun Tzu’s classic Art of War and appreciate the value of secrecy in the most crucial dynamics of societal relationships.
The recorded history of mankind has been a bloody one, full of wars that have outnumbered actual years. Despite serious efforts for global peace since the inception of the United Nations, there are always several wars that happen in different parts of the world. Even today, or just this current year, open the TV or the Internet and we will see all the reports of ongoing wars. Just the same, the open struggle to make peace and sustain it in the world is a continuing commitment of most nations. Even in the field of official communications, much care is given to the politically correct to avoid provoking conflict. Unfortunately, the politically correct is more of an ideal than a reality; we wish for it to be the norm but it is not yet and will not be so in any foreseeable future.
The world of diplomacy and protocol has taken over official communication so much so that we often believe that what is said is what is true. The languaging has become more important than the reality, the goal that is yet to be more dominant that what is still happening. The world of politics is trying to go the way of religion where what one strives for overshadows the grim actuality of human frailty. There is now a tendency for the public, meaning you and me, to first believe that what we hear is true, but also to more often than not admit to ourselves after a short reflection that it cannot be so. We love to hear promises, but deep inside, accept that they may not come true.
It is difficult for us to openly say that we need, or want, a number of things. Doing so may seem embarrassing for some reason, either we do not have the capacity to get them or we might be seen as wanting too much. But the truth is that we all need or want something however self-sufficient we may seem. What we need or want may not be bad but our reluctance to openly say or admit them makes these our hidden agenda. In other words, hidden agenda is mostly not wrong, not bad, but we let on for different personal reasons as though we do not have these needs or wants.
If true for each of us, so more true it is for nations. All nations have an open agenda to protect and achieve its highest interests. But they also have hidden agenda, and these refer to the specifics of what and how they will behave in order to pursue their open agenda. The open agenda is understandable to all, and diplomatically acceptable, but the fact is that the open agenda of one may conflict with the open agenda of the other, or others. What cannot be admitted, then, is that one country will pursue its agenda even if disturbs or disrupts the open agenda of other nations. The dynamics then shift from global diplomacy to geopolitics.
It is unfortunate for the smaller nations, the weaker ones, that the more powerful and wealthy will have their way. They can openly pursue their open agenda, but they will also go to great lengths, in a hidden manner and backed by greater power or influence, to get what they want. This is easy to understand. There are clear examples of these even in our country, where the strongest and richest cities or regions get their way at the expense of their weaker counterparts. How else did Metro Manila get to be called Imperial Manila? In the greater scheme of things, the United States, China, and Russia and other nations of approximate strength, will force, one way or the other, its smaller and weaker global neighbors to accept less yet surrender more.
The Philippines is not a player in the major leagues. We have never been so. We have been invaded, conquered and ruled by other nations but have never done the same to others. And because we are blessed with natural resources far beyond the average per square inch of land and sea, others have coveted our possessions – and still do. The protocol or rules of diplomacy prevent those who want more from us than they are willing to give or pay for to openly admit their lust or greed, so instead let their hidden agenda work. We know it, they know we know it, but we and they know we are unable to stop it. And we have nowhere to go. To ally ourselves with one to protect us against another will simply mean we submit to a new hidden agenda.
There is but one way left. It is the most difficult but also the most doable and sustainable. We can only go to ourselves, build our capacity for self-sufficiency in all things that relate to our survival, because there is no independence in this world without the capacity and courage for great sacrifice. And while we take this journey for self-sufficiency, we must have the determination never to give up the course because we will be struggling both ways all the time – slowly developing our inner strength and liberating ourselves from the clutches of foreign domination at the same time. There is no other way.
Meanwhile, live bravely and intelligently with the hidden agenda of those who use superior strength and wealth to pursue their open agenda. Let the bitter aftertaste make us work harder and faster for our freedom.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.