December 12, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Post-Easter meditation

The onset of our scorching hot summer is Holy Week.

In contrast to the frivolity and fun of an annual vacation, the end of Lent is characterized by solemnity. An ideal period of introspection and contemplation when one practices restraint and austerity.

The discipline of self-denial diffuses one’s vanity and the desire for instant gratification.

In an increasingly materialistic and self-centered world, abstinence makes us give up things that we enjoy. It teaches us how to grow beyond our human imitations. For this significant reason, the Lenten season is relevant to our lives.

Among the important holidays, Easter has always been the personal favorite. Unlike the commercial madness that precedes Christmas, the deafening explosion of New Year’s Eve, Easter Sunday is a profoundly spiritual event.

At the vigil Mass, the Paschal candle is lit. Church bells peal to announce the Resurrection. Within the context of the human experience, Easter symbolizes renewal. A rebirth after a period of mental, emotional and physical cleansing.

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Like a pebble tossed into a pond, a small deed creates tiny ripples that reverberate and swell into bigger circles. The slightest pressure can topple a series of bricks in a domino pattern. Over time, a tiny fissure or flaw widens into a yawning chasm.

These metaphors illustrate the possible effects of our actions.

When viewed from the objective perspective of time and distance, a perplexing jigsaw puzzle could finally make sense. The obscure image would slowly emerge into the light.

As we arrive at the crossroads of a career or deliberate on the choice of a lifestyle, we are forced to select from diverse options. The dilemma of divergent directions.

In a quandary, the horizon appears hazy. Perhaps, the timing is off. To take a calculated risk, one weighs the available data and attempts to assess the odds.

Rational thinking is a major component of any decision. Whenever possible, we should balance objectivity with a dose of intuition or gut feeling. The subconscious is an alternative source a fountain of possibilities.

It may not be possible to predict the outcome or the future consequences of any decision. If we are cautious, we can make a calculated risk and hedge against probable obstacles that could cushion or dilute the final impact.

A developed sense of intuition may help resolve a problem. It could provide hidden insights or leads that could be valuable. In Jungian parlance, we should tap into our collective unconscious for the answer. Listening to that inner voice would make all the difference.

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In the normal course of one’s profession an individual has to make critical and painful decisions. It could be a downsizing of the department the retrenchment of employees. Or it means the transfer and retraining of personnel in the reengineering program. A boss would have to choose people to retain or recycle when an interpersonal conflict arises.

Where does one draw the line between what is good for the company or what will benefit only a chosen few?

The institution, without question, always takes precedence over everything and everyone else. Business above personal interests. What is good for the company prevails.

In a technologically progressive company, a tug-of-war happens. Human beings versus machines. On the basis of standards of efficiency, the use of automation effectively reduces the number of employees and manpower hours. Expenses are minimized. Profit margins increase.

What concerns us is the human factor. How does the individual fit into the entire scheme? In the spirit of modernization, technological advancement an-engineering? Will humans be replaced by robots for the sake of a bigger profit margin? Will they be sacrificed in the race?

In many companies around the world, this is happening.

When we call customer service, we get computers that answer the call. Banks have ATM terminals. Subways and parking lots use machines. In the past two decades, there has been less human interaction. Doctors make their rounds with robots. The robot checks on the patients in the hospitals. The human doctor control the robot. He sees, hears and speaks via remote control. A diagnosis could be made with a human resident doctor.

A drastic cut in manpower would result in job displacement -- underemployment and unemployment. Many lives, the employees and their extended families, would be adversely affected.

While the business people are primarily concerned with attaining a healthy bottom line and profit, there are other meaningful factors. One should consider the intangibles such as the human dimension and social responsibility,

In the ideal balance sheet, the bottom line should include: Net Profit plus Values.

Maria Victoria Rufino is an artist, writer and businesswoman. She is president and executive producer of Maverick Productions.