An Oxfam Study has concluded “that humanity has been buried in unbridled consumerism and materialism as there is so much veneration to the profit motive that has already captured the mindset of all governments, all institutions, all universities and all religions while there is so much denigration of spirituality.”
This is because the contemporaneous development paradigm called neo-liberal capitalism, also known as corporate globalization that has been anchored on the “money-must-grow principle,” and “growth-at-all-cost development strategy.” It has sacrificed the people and the environment to the altar of greed and profit under the regime of one percent, as the wealth of one percent is greater than the combined assets of the 99 percent of the world’s population. In fact, the combined wealth of the eight richest families in the world equal the combined assets of 3.6 billion people.
Such gross inequities have been justified by the rich and powerful as the offshoot of the principle of the “survival-of-the-fittest.” They are stronger, more powerful, more aggressive, thus, they have more, more, more wealth, more money, more power.
But the survival-of-the-fittest principle works only in a jungle-like existence where a stronger lion eats a cornered prey, but not in a civilized society. Let notice be served to one and all that each one of us will be judged not on wealth, fame or power, but on how we have served the “least of our brethren.”
Development that is based on individual pursuit for self-aggrandizement and wealth, where money is used not to enhance life and the well-being of the people but to make more money is not anymore economically viable and ecologically sustainable. That kind of development, which is really “mal-development,” makes a few elites have much too much and the many who are poor much too little.
In this country, you call that block capitalism where cartels and the oligarchs run the country, owned by only 50 families. To perpetuate their economic control, they must have a hold to political power, including that of the media and the continuing financial support to the Churches.
Look at Mindanao, so rich yet so poor, where 70 percent of the land (the choicest) is under the control of big agri-business corporations (based on a study by the Development Academy of the Philippines). Where are the farmers, the so-called backbone of the nation? They are tilling lands not their own, or if they do, they are tied-up to a mode of production and marketing that they have no control. They are in marginalized areas, in slopes where their carabaos will roll over downhill even with a little push.
Our country has also become a dumping ground of finished products and source of cheap raw materials, which are processed abroad then sold back to us at a high price. What a tragedy knowing that a country that is consuming what it is not producing will always be poor.
The highly iniquitous development paradigm can be likened to the workings of an auto-immune disease syndrome wherein the body’s defense mechanisms attack vital organs. In the absence of a major change, the global system will collapse in less than a hundred years.
The unimaginable is becoming imaginable: the end of life on earth. Why is this so? Glaring is unsustainability in ecology manifested by climate change, melting of the iceberg (1,000 hectares of the 386-meter high iceberg in the Arctic and Antarctic melting every day). It is scientifically established that for every one degree Celsius increase in global temperature, there will be a corresponding ten percent reduction in food production.
As climate change intensifies, insects’ bites will become fatal and can reach up to higher altitude. It is predicted that there will be at least one billion global refugees in the next 100 years. In the Philippines, 15 years from now, there will be about 35 million homeless Filipinos as it is scientifically established that in the next 15 years, the sea level will increase by 16 meters high (the height of a 3-storey building) and the 7,100 islands will just be reduced to 300 islands.
The second bitter reality is the unsustainability of the economy as only a few elites are in control of resources. Who decides? Who controls? Who benefits? These oligarchs are using the “trickle-down” approach to the masses as an alibi. No sir! No such thing. In so-called trickle-down approach, we just allow all those who have already passed the digestive system of cattle to be eaten by the poor.
No less than the national leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy who had been imprisoned as a freedom fighter, stressed the truism in her speech that “human development must now be the focus and not consumerism and materialism.”
Let us now be awakened to liberate humanity, especially the Filipino people, from the quagmire of so much unbridled materialism and consumerism and to bring back spirituality amid the morale collapse and religious apathy. Let the biblical line reverberate: “What would profit a man if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of his soul.”
Indeed, each one of us is consciousness (spirit) prior to becoming a form (body) and that consciousness should be connected to the Unseen Being, the Ocean of Consciousness to be well-rooted with the Being who is Eternal. Feel that Consciousness Presence. Can you not feel that?
Orlando Ravanera is former chairman of the Cooperative Development Authority. After his retirement, he spends more time on his environmental advocacies and in his work for the indigenous people in northern Mindanao. All views and opinions express here are his own and do not reflect the views and opinions of LiCAS News.