PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

 

Reflections of a ruminant


(Or, Ruminating on the world's ruination)


We all agree that communism failed. But capitalism isn't anywhere near better either. Huh, you don't believe that? You want proof of it? Just take a look at the long lines of squatter shanties along the railroad tracks. If capitalism were any good, then why did we create such a most horrible monster, complete with poisonous fangs?

I know, the truth is that our brand of capitalism in the Philippines, in particular, is at best pseudo-capitalism which is misspelled as cronyism, corruption, and unfair competition.

Much as I'd like to be an ardent fan of capitalism, I couldn't. The big C persists like bad cholesterol inside the nation's arteries. Just take a look at the whole mess it made of America where the monsters of mindless consumption, materialism, and instant gratification rear their horrible heads. Obviously capitalism without a heart is bad for the health.

The point, simply, is that, I'm afraid I have found the answer to all the world's ills. And I'm afraid you know all too well but choose to ignore it in an egregious manner. The answer is this: What we really need is a civilization of love, to borrow a phrase from the Pope. With a risk of sounding like Deepak Chopra or John Lennon, let me repeat that all we need is love, the brand that sets its sight outside the self. Socialism failed in spite of a revolutionary restructuring without regard for nonmaterial factors, while capitalism continues to be a failure in spite of the good things it offers because it focuses on what one’s self can do for oneself, disregarding others. Apparently, both failed because they don't have a heart and a soul.

A civilization of love is one that looks at every person as unique and valuable, entitled to an equal degree of dignity, of respect and to have innate value to the community. A civilization of love thrives on this uniqueness of every human being, offering a role for each actor in the grand stage that is the world, and welcoming every newborn as another potential to be tapped. In a civilization of love, we can not all be managers; someone has got to be the crew, to borrow another phrase from somewhere. Competition, therefore, is anathema to civilization.

As are social classes. An allegedly classless society crippled when some members are not functioning fully. What we want is a society where the pain of one is the pain of all, and the joy of one is as well the joy of all. Communism did not capture this paradox of unity in diversity and so it turned out to be a monster. Capitalism refuses to think along these lines, and so it ended up just like that - a limp stack of loose coins, each member hostile to another, viewing him as a threat. Capitalism gnawed at the soul of every nation and is soon to gnaw itself to death. All the signs are visible - environmental destruction, resource depletion, cultural homogenization, urban poor phenomenon (extreme poverty amid riches), unthinking competition.

We are all losers both ways because we turn a blind eye. Rich nations are morally bankrupt and they know it, while poor nations are not just spiritually parched, their thirst is economic as well. People always admonish me for thinking this way, with this constant subtext: "You are not God." I know I'm not that's why I am complaining. It's simply impossible for me to go on living in a world like this. What will I tell our future children? That everything is okay with the world? That nothing is wrong? That it's alright to deny?

A civilization of love revolves around just one simple doctrine: Love of God and love of neighbor as oneself. In such a society, no one is so poor that he can’t afford to contribute anything and no one is so rich that he doesn't need any help. It is a time and place where every human action is motivated by this great requirement of love. The usual legalities fade in the face of such a law. It is a time and place where anger is won over by patience, envy with empathy, greed and selfishness by compassion and passion for things of God.

It is a time and place of equal opportunity, the just distribution of this world's goods, zero crime-rate, politics as a means to serve, and education as a means to see God in all things, and justice as a vehicle to ensure dignity to every human being.

I know, I know… How come I get this funny feeling that all this is wishful thinking? That I am just having the thoughts a ruminating ruminant, chewing my cud and processing it through a four-chambered stomach? Innocent thoughts, yes, but all unreal and impractical in the here and now?

Indeed, I may be barking up the wrong tree all along, that I am just pining for that time and place where faith is needed no more, because all the things hoped for have come upon the world.

2.2001


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