WE WERE all captivated by the holding of the recent 31st Asean Summit which saw the attendance of national leaders coming from all over the world including the President of the United States, President Donald Trump. All trumpeted the theme of the Summit which is Prosperity for All. Wow! In a world where only eight families have a consolidated wealth equal to the combined assets of 3.6 billion people (according to an Oxfam study), the imperative need for equitable distribution of resources has become glaring.
Such call is foremost in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, pronouncing in clear categorical term to stop poverty and hunger, stop social injustice, stop gross social inequities, among the 17 SDGs. Even His Holiness Pope Francis has underscored such call in his recent encyclical pronouncement in Lau Datu Si on care for our common home. His Holiness critiques consumerism and irresponsible development, laments environmental degradation and global warming and calls all people of the world to take swift and united global action.
Indeed, in the absence of a major change the global system will collapse in less than one hundred years. The unimaginable is becoming imaginable: the end of life on earth. Why is this so? Glaring is unsustainability in ecology manifested by global warming, melting of the iceberg (one thousand hectares per day), rising of the oceans, extinction of the species,etc. It is a scientifically established fact that for every one Celsius degree increase in global temperature, there will be a corresponding ten percent reduction in food production. As global heat intensifies, the 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, that people in Bhopal have to leave the country for reason of pestilence, migrating to Calcutta but during that time, Calcutta is predicted to be under water.
The second bitter reality is the unsustainability in the economy as only a few are in control of the resources. Who decides? Who profits? Who benefits? And these global oligarchs are giving high adherence to the growth-at-all-cost development strategy called Neo-Liberal Capitalism which is only successful in sacrificing mother earth and the people to the altar of greed and profit! These oligarchs are using “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 which have already passed the digestive system of cattle to be eaten by the poor
Today, there is need for a paradigm shift: from unsustainability to sustainability! Money should not be used to make more money but to improve the quality of life of the people. Enough is enough of economic development that benefits only a few. No less that a national leader from Myanmar by the name of Aung San Suu Kye, the State Councilor of Myanmar, leader of the national league for democracy, has stressed this truism in her speech, saying that human development must now be the focus and not consumerism and materialism. Yes, “higitsalahat, TAO”.
In this context, the essence of cooperativism has become the answer because its DNA is that ofbeing members-owned, value-based and sustainable. It is the only countervailing force to debunk the contemporaneous development paradigm. This is the reason why the United Nations has coined the term, Transformative Cooperatives for People, Planet, Prosperity and Purpose, to advance the UN’s SD Even His Holiness Pope Francis has given credence to cooperativism as the path to serve the least of our brethren, questioning why in a world with so much abundance and food, many are wallowing in hunger and poverty.
Indeed, one’s talent must not be used for self-aggrandizement but to collectively advance the welfare of everyone, for God’s greater Glory!