I had been mentioning distractions and disruptions for several months. Indeed, that is what I see and know I will continue to see. I am not searching for disruptions. If they happen and are substantive, we will all know. We all experienced Covid-19, did we not? We all experience, even from afar, the far-reaching consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, do we not?
Disruptions are painful, but they are unavoidable. When they need to happen, they will. And they will serve their purpose – to disrupt – and provoke a new order of things after that. However, we can influence disruptions’ frequency and intensity through what we do collectively. That gives time for visionary leaders to prepare us for post-disruption scenarios.
Meanwhile, distractions are what I keep a more alert eye on. These distractions keep our attention from what matters most by making what matters less dominate our focus and efforts. Distractions build the ground on which disruptions become necessary for a greater order to endure. By drawing us to the useless, we deviate from the essential and natural pathways that cause us to build highways towards emergencies and catastrophes.
Let me point out the reality of partisan politics. Partisanship is the worst dimension of politics. By definition, politics is from the Greek word “polis,” which means city or a specific territory, and the natural dynamics of people who inhabit it in their struggle to live as best they can. In other words, politics is unavoidable when people find themselves in one city or territory.
Politics cannot be avoided, and they should not be avoided. It can be argued instead that politics should be engaged as each member of society has a relevant role. Because inside the great world of human interaction in a community, economics is part of it, health is part of it, and agriculture is part of it, and many more. Governance is essential but only one part of it.
For a fractured society, however, politics can only be partisan at the cost of excellence and efficiency of the rest. Partisanship means taking sides, which is sometimes unavoidable. Still, it can be contained in the world of ideas, concepts, and programs. We can take sides there, develop and promote our particular points of view, what we think from an array of choices, and what possibly would work best. From a world of many colors and forms, the best can arise.
Unfortunately, when I say we are a fractured society, it is not a matter of colliding ideas, concepts, and proposals. Instead, it is reduced to the baser choices of who we like better beyond what we think is right and wrong. It will seem that a highly partisan society will necessarily degenerate to emotions over reason. Sadly, that society will only divide and conquer its wholistic and most powerful potential – its collective power.
Intrinsically, we have an individual dimension as much as a collective nature. We are both. We cannot be anything else. We can try, but it will always end up badly. No man is an island; the one insisting on being so will die alone. At the same time, our nature includes unique parts of us, so much so that our individuality cannot be totally sacrificed for the collective. Circumstances change, and in different situations, we will find whether we need to be more together in thought and movement or express our uniqueness.
It is our intelligence, our flexibility, and our maturity that we need to develop; that, anyway, is a preordained journey in our nature. It is what we develop in ourselves that we carry all the lives that will allow us to function to survive – and much more. No matter how partisan we would like to be, our lives depend on our capacity to help ourselves and to exchange our productivity with our neighbors or community. When not held firmly in check, partisanship itself becomes an overriding poison.
The distractions in life are so many that they draw us into their dynamics instead of us drawing them to facilitate our goals and values. Money, for example, does not work for us as much as we work for it. And money is just an imagined value, unlike earth, water, air, and fire. Our very physical existence depends on the elements, without which we die and without their purity, will pollute and kill us before our time.
With a horizon and environment of distractions surrounding us, we are all like bamboo swaying in the direction of the wind. And if we do not realize it on time, we may be bamboo that can break and cease to be. Even as we sway, enough consciousness must remain to keep the bamboo in us still holding on to the earth on which it is anchored. We must struggle to find that reason, facts, and truth are the fundamentals of the order itself.
The reason, facts, and truth are not partisan. They are the go-to strengths that allow us to survive, grow, and prosper. They make us understand how we need to breathe and breathe clean air; how we need to eat and drink to activate our capacities; how to recognize what is real and what is imagined, that we do not float, that we are grounded by gravity; how to realize the power of all is greater than the power of one. The reason, facts, truth – let us lean on them again.
Back to basics, too. Plant, plant, plant. Let no Filipino and Filipino community no hungry. A simple goal. Study, study, study. Another simple goal for the young and everyone else is to study and learn as life introduces many changes. Build, build, build. A third simple goal. Build our productive capacities, build our houses and homes, build our communities, and build our infrastructure. By doing that, we build our nation.