by Dr. Epifania Dayo-Anfone
Member, Board of Trustees
* Delivered at the SU Baccalaureate Service, March 24, 2019
Texts: Matt. 5: 13-16; Isaiah 6:8
Isa. 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?
And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Matt. 5: 13-16 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (NIV Devotional Study Bible)
Fellow members of the BOT of this university headed by our chair Jun Balbido Jr., our beloved lady president Dr. Betty Cernol-McCann, administrators, Church ministerial team headed by Rev. Dr. Noriel Capulong, faculty and staff, parents, Graduating Class-Batch 2019, brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning.
I am humbled and honored standing before you to deliver God’s message especially to you, graduates. Thank you, Rev Dr. Noriel for successfully persuading me.
Let us pray: Let the words of my mouth be heard as Your words, O Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
One distinguishing characteristic among Sillimanians anywhere on this planet is the spirit of volunteerism in action. It’s not because we want to be popular, but I would like to believe it stems out of our experience here at Silliman. In almost all walks of life, Silliman alumni are there, sharing and helping in whatever capacity. Batch 2019, are you ready for this?
Moving out of the halls of Silliman could bring mixed feelings – excitement and apprehension. The world outside awaits you; [it’s] full of opportunities and challenges wherever change is taking place.
We are now in the new era, Globalization 4.0, the knowledge-driven economy. Disruptive changes have been taking place, brought about by advancement in technology, resulting in unprecedented changes in the workplace, economic activities, industries, and the world. Processes and systems will completely be transformed, requiring us to be open to shifting paradigms about the future. To quote some lines of the former Prime Minister of Pakistan Shaukat Aziz, “Reform is always underway. Reform is a continuous process, so the momentum of reform will continue, and change will be constant in life.” (Fortune Magazine, March 2019).
Yes, change has been always around us; however, the impact of these recent technological changes on humans and the environment will be more imminent in the coming years. Climate change for example, and vulnerable regions and populations will encounter their more tremendous impact this time. Almost 50% of people below 30 years old surveyed believed that climate change is the most pressing global issue; 90% of the same group agreed that “humans are responsible for climate change” (Global Economic Outlook, 2018).
But a more relevant question to ask is: Change for what and for whom, and where is it headed for? Has man done enough to make this world a better place? Despite the many inventions, advancements in technology that have made the world “smaller and flatter” (Friedman), how come we are always confronted with so many crises – in fuel; in energy; now water in Metro Manila, which has become a golden commodity; climate change; innocent people falling victims of abuse; criminality happening even at home; families becoming disintegrated or broken; political divide; terrorism; rising inequality among people and among nations; world peace remaining an elusive dream, and many more.
In short, despite all the technological advancement, our world is ailing, so far from the paradise God gave us … but don’t get me wrong. In every situation, whether good or bad, there is always something good. Crises could bring out opportunities that would challenge the potential of persons and nations. An optimistic mindset is needed especially among leaders to hold on to the hope that we can create a community (global and domestic) of shared interest and shared purpose, which is easier said than done.
Everyone has a stake to realize this hope. China has responded by asking the right question, “How to achieve inclusive growth in China.” The aim is to achieve a growth rate of around 6.5% this year, and if such a figure is sustained, China will contribute 30% [of it] to the world’s growth, and be the most important source of growth in the world.
The question again is, who will benefit from this growth? Discussions now focus on how to make every sector a part of this growth especially in the rural areas. “Everybody happy everyday,” I should say, should be the real indicator of inclusive growth. However, if greed and personal interests continue to prevail, income inequality and poverty can never be addressed. This is another issue. As Aziz puts it clearly, “We should work together for progress. We should consider not only ourselves, but also our community and the entire world. We can do it and I believe we will.”
Along with the transformative power of Globalization 4.0, transformation of the hearts of people, attitudes, and values should also take place continuously, to make a difference and for the world to be a better place for everyone. Brothers and sisters in Christ especially, the Graduating Class 2019, “Are you in for this?” Prophet Isaiah during his time came forward, accepted the challenge, when God asked “Whom will I send” and answered boldly “Here I am, send me.”
And as we come forward, let us examine our motives and intentions. Keep in mind that in all we do the outcome should be for the common good, aligned with God’s desire for his people. Sillimanians and God’s children, as emphasized in the gospel of Matthew 5: 13-16, we are reminded to make a difference – what matters most is, do what is right, according to God’s standard. Be mindful of the fact that temptations to depart from this notion lie along the way as we journey in this life – in all facets, be it personal, family, job-related, community/church, nation, or the world in general.
As you, Batch 2019, rise up from the ranks to become managers/presidents of corporations/institutions, or of your own businesses, the more power you will gain. And oftentimes this is where temptations become more intense. In my experience, temptations could stem from what you have and do not have. Again, Matthew puts it bluntly, we have to police our “saltiness” and keep our “light shining before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
One article I read about millennials and Globalization 4.0 has a banner statement that runs this way: “Globalization 4.0, the outlook will be positive, if young people can drive the change.” However, when millennials were asked in a survey, many believed they may not have the skills needed for the jobs in the future.
This is one challenge I will leave to you, Batch 2019. Dare to be counted, be part of the solution. This should also challenge educational institutions like Silliman, [to find out] how to aggressively respond to close the skills gap in the light of the values that Silliman holds dear. A forecast is up, that by 2022 (too soon), at least 54% of employees globally will require re-skilling and up-skilling. New Zealand started to address this by implementing a national technology curriculum by way of preparing students to adapt to types of jobs in the next five years.
There’s so much we can do for the future, both for ourselves and for others as well. I agree with the remaining lines of Mr. Aziz, we can do it – together. Families, firms, academe, church, institutions, and all nations alike are called to partake in coping with the impact of technological advancement. No one can do it alone; this requires openness and collaboration and the proactive action of everyone.
The transformation should start with ourselves – our own outlook and agenda in life. [Then let us] cascade this to others, so that together we can do it. Dare to dream for what is good for everyone, act proactively and vividly, with integrity and dedication. Activate the DAVID in us – [the part that is] always seeking God’s guidance and inspiration. Do not be wary and anxious… God will see us through. For this is God’s work in the 21st century. Amen.