• Kim’s Dream
  • Orlando R. Ravanera

Bahaullah, the founder of Bahai Faith, has underscored to the highest degree the essence of Oneness – of mankind, of religion, of all of God’s creation.

Indeed, the myth of “other-than-me” has been responsible for wars, the rape of the planet and all expressions of human injustice. “Who in their right mind would harm another if they experienced that person as part of themselves?” Stan Grof, in his research of non-ordinary states of consciousness, summarizes by saying “the psyche and consciousness of each of us is, in the last analysis, commensurate with “All-That-Is” because there are no absolute boundaries between the body/ego and the totality of existence.”

Amidst the continuing onslaught of a pandemic, let us focus on the spirit of oneness being exemplified by some twelve million  Filipinos who are advancing the time-honored and universally accepted cooperative principles and values of onenesss called cooperativism.

They come from all walks of life – farmers, fisherfolk, women, workers, lumads, small vendors, the handicapped, teachers, government employees, the military and even former commanders of the Moro National Liberation Front – all of them believe that cooperativism is the answer against the onslaught of hunger and poverty, that is why they have organized themselves into cooperatives.

They have to pool together whatever meager resources they have and harness their collective potentials and experiences, ardently believing that the “people united can never be defeated,” even by poverty.

There are now more than 18,481cooperatives nation-wide and increasing without let-up as the 15 million Indigenous Peoples, MILF and other combatants are now putting down their arms to fight poverty and social injustices through cooperativism.

The spirit of cooperativism shines through amidst the darkness of poverty and social inequities.  Where people are poor because they are powerless to craft their destiny, where hunger looms because of social injustice as the mode of production and basic utilities are controlled by a few, where people are in dire economic difficulties because of lack of opportunities, skills and capabilities, it is during these times when cooperatives thrive best.

What then is the relevance of cooperatives during these most challenging times?  What is their most appropriate role in the long and arduous journey that advances a pro-people development paradigm and in the process, countervails against formidable structures that consign the people to live in slum areas and topple down the country’s resource-base?

It is interesting to note that in this struggle to reduce aggravated poverty, the development experts are one in concluding that the root cause of poverty is the powerlessness and social exclusion of the people and that remedial measures must now be pursued to empower the poor by building their own coalition.

Empowering the people has become imperative because social change has become so elusive all these years.  Political and economic structures which are causing poverty, after fourteen years of Martial Law and two “People Power” revolutions, have withstood the wind of change and have remained formidable as ever.  True, there have been changes of guards but the instruments of greed continue to breed poverty and ecological exploitation as well.

At long last, change has come under the present dispensation as the President himself has said in his latest State of the Nation Address that enough is enough of oligarchical control. Electricity and water are means to life and must not be the subject of so much rakings by a few oligarchs. Give notice  to the so-called electric cooperatives which are cooperatives only in name. Respect must be given to the land and water rights of our Indigenous Peoples.

Now with the social and environmental crises threatening the lethal combination of apathy and greed, the cooperatives must stand up to become a countervailing force.  This time, nature joins the voices of the hungry and the helpless.

Cooperatives must now harness “people power” during these most difficult times to make life better for the people and to nurture our ecological wealth.  This means consolidating their ranks and establishing strong cooperative networks and alliances to resolve pressing issues confronting them.

History tells us that structural wrongs and social injustice can only be rectified by the people themselves when they take the responsibilities for their communities and take the future into their own hands.  The two people powered revolutions can attest to that. That is the reason why cooperativism is said to be the only way to lead the people to that realm visualized by an Indian poet named Rabindranath Tagore 85 years ago when he said, “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high, where knowledge is free, where the world is not broken down by narrow domestic walls, into that heaven of freedom my Father, Let my people awake!”