In the hands of the young
I attended an EOC (Economy of Communion) gathering hosted by the Focolare movement, an initiative that seeks to influence people and nations towards a most humanistic economic approach. It would seem like a crazy dream considering the state within which economic activities are conducted globally. The continuing poverty and exclusion of billions for decent economic lives are daily reminders about how things do not work for most but defy efforts to reform the great inequalities that plague the world.
Focolare and its Economy of Communion are, of course, not the only initiatives seeking to mitigate the harsh impact of economic dominance by the few on the majority. But it would seem to me that the dominance of the existing global economic order deepens rather than eases. Reversal is nowhere in sight. Despite its seeming impossibility as well, reform and transform remain the only pathway. The issue of greed and control or lust for power continue to be the business model of governments and corporations with few exceptions.
The wisdom and compassion of a few in the world translate to dedicated efforts to care for, and share with, the most affected victims of the past and present economic order. In most countries, NGOs have sprouted to take care of their respective poor. They are themselves supported by sympathetic people and corporations as if to prove that goodness, indeed, lies deep in the design of the human character. Sadly, that goodness has to overcome fears and insecurities in people before it is extended to the needy. Those who recognize that universal concern for others, who understand that the common good can truly accommodate, not deny, individual good, have never been enough to trigger substantial change. However, they keep the fire alive and many around the world like Focolare choose not to give up.
In the Philippines, there are many bright spots, many awesome opportunities. Good people who cross the line of personal comfort to personal mission are found in most communities, some organized, some not. One movement that has captured my imagination, my heart and my commitment have been Gawad Kalinga (GK). I cannot thank it enough for making me understand about the common good for the majority of common Filipinos. By immersing in GK, I have managed to tame the programmed partisanship that afflicts most Filipinos. I still take sides on issues I find important but am not quick to criticize and condemn. I had done that and more for so long yet achieved little. It is time to bring my objections to actions that promote what I believe and admire rather than the incessant cursing of the darkness. After all, there are millions who are quite noisy in that regard, quite dynamic on the exercise of partisanship, right or wrong.
I was part of a large audience in the Vatican when Pope Francis addressed a gathering of advocates for economic change, its values, and its operating protocol. The Pope shared his view that the global economic system needed to be changed because it was too late or futile for simply economic reform. In other words, what we have cannot be displaced anymore by tweaking it here or there. Despite the consistent evidence of severe inequalities that actually make life miserable for billions, there are no forces powerful enough to change the current global economic order.
But change it must. And change it will. Suffering cannot extend indefinitely. There is a breaking point, there is the last straw. Most probably, it will be violent. The wars in several countries show economic inequity is part and parcel of the root causes. The global refugee emergency has both politics and economics driving it, and even the US government considers caravans of refugees as a national emergency.
The change, however, may have to come in the traditional pace and manner rather than an instant consequence of a powerful collective movement. First, there is no heated collective movement for change. There may be angst that is felt by the disadvantaged but that has been quietly festering there. When collective action does come, it has almost always been in the form of violent revolutions. Until EDSA People Power, that is, and the other political yet peaceful transitions to power in Eastern Europe and South Africa. Even these, after the fact, after the removal of the hated regimes, began to feel the chaotic consequences of sudden change that was largely unplanned and unprepared.
The other manner of traditional change is simply one that happens from generation to generation, change brought about by younger generations who live life according to their understanding and not according to the rules of their parents and grandparents. This change is slow but sure, almost imperceptible by the day but adds up generation by generation. This is what has been happening to the Philippines in the last 30 years. But it is not as imperceptible today because technology is forcing the change to move faster than usual. Technology is proving to be more upsetting than the usual protests in the streets.
Inside that technology, though, is the inner sense of the younger generations. Some say there are four or five generations at play in the Philippines. The three younger ones include those who understand and induce the birthing of technology that is beginning to disrupt the established financial order. Its most dramatic face so far is the blockchain technology used by the crypto-currencies. Yet, it is only the beginning. Its growth in radicalism (as far as the older generations are concerned) will not be linear, it will be exponential (not my words but I agree). When the millennials gain dominance not only in numbers but in economics and influence, they cannot but drive where societal life will go.
How thankful I am, then, that I see in the younger generations that are already living today the ethics and morality that makes me not just hopeful but in eager anticipation. My mission? Not to add to the mess they will have to set right.
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