Can we still work together?

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

| Photo by Toa Heptiva on Unsplash

There is simply too much bad news. Worse than that, there are simply too many negative trends. Most may look or sound like partisan politics, but they are only carriers of deeper causes. In other words, since the problems are rooted deep down, they will not be resolved soon, not in one lifetime.

Yes, the news does come and go in great volume and speed. That surface seems like the news keeps changing. The surface does, but the causes stay; it keeps changing forms and personalities but carries the pain of the same deep wound.

The pain points do have their better and worse moments. We are inside the bad moments that threaten to be even worse. One, we keep doing it to ourselves. Two, global influences this time aggravate the volume and intensity of our pain points.

Yet, the situation is already upon us. Their fault or ours is less the question than what we or other factions do about it. Our perspectives and intentions differ, but we share one common environment – a dreary one. Hopefully, sooner than later, each of us must determine a course of action. If for good, we carry the hope that its impact will not be buried by the unproductive or even destructive behavior of others.

Dark and heavy times must find counterforces of light and hopeful efforts. There is little choice left for us because the inertia will steadily bring us down even lower on all fronts. For those who are not paralyzed by complete helplessness or pessimism, small but consistent efforts to lift ourselves from the doldrums become necessary. Small because we are not individuals of great power and resources but consistent. We, then, hope that our numbers are enough to arrest the gloom.

The government is not telling us the actual extent of the bad news. I do not expect it to. For as long as there are no clear steps to curb the prices from further rising or no credible signs of new businesses and job openings so Filipinos can earn more, the government has nothing inspiring to tell us.

“The Filipino people will not share in that golden bubble regardless of who they voted for. Latest reports point to even those who were financially better off than the 31 million are also feeling the pinch of rising prices and the softening of most businesses.”

It will try to exert stricter price control and put more goods on the list to be controlled. But, once that is done as a continuing policy instead of an emergency stop-gap measure, businesses will slow down even more and slide to bankruptcy.

Without a doubt, the government will move towards increasing subsidies. What other recourse does it have unless it can entice new investments to create new jobs faster than sinking investments and the layoffs of employees? The farmers and fisherfolks are not having a picnic in the countryside either. In fact, their production is contracting due to rising costs of inputs and everything else.

What a scenario. It is not what I would wish on any political faction because this is on us, all of us. Those who never believed what 31 million swallowed hook, line, and sinker, will have little satisfaction that there never was a golden future once their candidate wins. But a few will have a golden time in their new positions of power and great access to opportunities. Tides of fortune, so to speak.

The Filipino people, regardless of who they voted for, will not share in that golden bubble. Latest reports point to even those who were financially better off than the 31 million are also feeling the pinch of rising prices and the softening of most businesses.

Hugot. Our inner core is the only source of visions for a better tomorrow. And we must find it soon. Every day cannot be another day for the downward trend to build more momentum. Every day is a challenge for us to find the conviction to do more, produce more, earn more, and help more. Every day must be an invitation to reverse the negativity.

The first thing is to be busy. Our heavy atmosphere will draw despondency, and despondency will bring inaction. We have to resist that; we have to find the energy to be active, focus on small things that will help ourselves and others, and then do them repeatedly. We are sliding towards scarcity and must produce more, even if that is only food.

“We are in the most divisive of times. Trolls, disinformation, and partisan politics have built a contentious environment. Is bayanihan still possible? Can we still work together for the common good? Well, now is an excellent time to find out.

The important thing is to shake off discouragement and build our support systems. We must reach out to other people feeling the same economic threats and willing to collaborate in common efforts to help the community. While most are asking for what there is not enough of, some of us must begin to think about production.

Production refers to goods and services, and priority production refers to essential goods and services. Many of what we need can be produced within or near our communities, but cooperation is the first and most critical factor. Highly urbanized areas can be tapped by rural communities as directly as possible as their dependable consumers of agricultural produce – motivated by lower end-user prices, of course.

Without greater production, we can add nothing to supply but will experience greater demand. Then, think of barter, exchanging goods and services as directly as possible, closing the gap between producers and consumers. The customary laws of economics can be altered only by the laws of human determination, human cooperation, and human generosity.

I wish there were more options available for us. Yet, more options are needed most when the situation can offer only less. The poverty of many is a heavy burden that worsens when the poor begin to suffer more. While those who have more should have more compassion and generosity, they must also push the poor to exert more. Government and NGOs can help guide them toward their own productivity.

We are in the most divisive of times. Trolls, disinformation, and partisan politics have built a contentious environment. Is bayanihan still possible? Can we still work together for the common good? Well, now is an excellent time to find out.

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