• Kim’s Dream
  • Orlando R. Ravanera

Ecclesiastes 31:1 says it all: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”

The CoronaVirus Pandemic may have its season and perhaps, a purpose. No less than His Holiness Pope Francis said that the pandemic is nature’s vengeance against humanity.  If that be the case, what could be the “purpose” under heaven?

So much death in so short a time but suddenly nature is back to life: a clear sky, birds hovering above as if dancing to the tune of the wind while below are green scenery of blooming trees and amazing flowers, a wonderful manifestation of the Unseen Being that is seen through the oneness of all that move, that breath and that exist. Then, there is great peace and stillness.  The business as usual (BAU) paradigm has finally ceased.  And why not? Because the BAU and the consequences are more fatal than COVID-19 because such is anchored on a wrong development paradigm and a wrong life.

Indeed, the word development has been abused and mangled beyond recognition.  Everything is done in its name and everyone claims to be doing just that, yet, the day to day life of the people speaks that it is not so.

That kind of development can be likened to the workings of an auto-immune disease syndrome (AIDS), where no less than the body’s defense mechanisms are attacking vital organs.   We decimate our forest, we pollute our rivers and bays, we produce food yet contaminate our water table following costly agricultural technologies tied up to the heavy use of toxic chemicals, modern living means adopting lifestyle that what makes of a throw-away-society – all done in the name of development.

That kind of development can only be described as ruthless and futureless which has made the impossible now possible, which is the end of life on earth.  Biodiversity embracing the billions of life forms has tremendously decreased as these life forms which have evolved on earth for billions of years are now extinct.  As the earth warms and the oceans rise, we are now confronted on how to feed, clothe and house the exponentially growing earthlings that will reach the 9.3 billion mark in 2050.

That kind of development must now be debunked.  There is now the increasing call to replace it with one that is sustainable, holistic and community-based that puts the people at the center and at the mainstream of development processes.  This is what is called Sustainable Development which is defined as one that is responsive to the needs of the present generation without jeopardizing the capability of the future generations to meet their own needs.

We in the cooperative movement adhere to the United Nations’ definition as the full development of human potentials, the expansion of choices and opportunities.   For development to be so, it must pass a three-way test.  First, is it ecologically sustainable, meaning, it does not harm the environment but instead nurtures it.  Second, does it benefit the people in whose name and for whose cause it is there for? And third, does it have people’s participation?  We believe that unless people participate in development processes, all the outpourings of development programs will just be palliatives.  All told, unless all these three criteria are satisfied, no development can take place, only mal-development.

Mahatma Gandhi had put it more succinctly when he said, “If man has to be saved from doom, development must be in harmony with nature and not at its own expense.”

A Lumad leader was even more precise when he said, “when you have cut the last tree, when you have caught the last fish, when you have dried the last river, ONLY THEN will you realize that you cannot eat your money.”

In advancing sustainable development, let us reclaim back our lost indigenous culture that has given high reverence to nature and let us debunk a development paradigm which is based on growth-at-all-cost strategies that has consigned our country to be exporter of natural resources to satisfy the consumerist lifestyle in highly developed countries and dumping ground of imported goods and the non-essentials.

It has become imperative to democratize wealth and power in this highly skewed societal order.  Indeed, “there is enough for everyone’s needs but not for everyone’s greed.” Indeed, COVID-19 is a wake-up call. Unless we change the egoic mindset, unless we stop our accelerating drive towards ecological disasters, unless we feel the oneness with all of God’s creation, unless we unfetter humanity from the accelerating profit motive that has captured the mind of all governments, all universities, all institutions and even of religious groups, unless we stop being buried in so much materialism and consumerism, unless we stop the continuing denigration of our spirituality, there will be no cure against the pandemic.  Never shall we sacrifice the sanctity of God’s creation to the altar of greed and profit.

The cure is the enlightening processes for the much needed social transformation that must begin by being in touch with the inner core of our being to connect with the Unseen Being and feel the Power of Now!  That is the “purpose under heaven.” Be in that enlightened state and no COVID-19 can prevail over you!