Carvajal: Heroes as liberators

·2 min read

“Each and every one of us has been born into a given historical reality, ruled by particular norms and values, and managed by a unique economic and political system. We take this reality for granted, thinking it is natural, inevitable and immutable. We forget that our world was created by an accidental chain of events, and that history shaped not only our technology, politics and society, but also our thoughts, fears and dreams. The cold hand of the past emerges from the grave of our ancestors, grips us by the neck and directs our gaze towards a single future. We have felt that grip from the moment we were born, so we assume that it is a natural and inescapable part of who we are. Therefore, we seldom try to shake ourselves free, and envision alternative futures.”Juval Noah Harari, Homo Deus.

Pardon the lengthy quote, but professor Harari says best what I want us Filipinos to realize. As you should see in a moment and on deeper reflection, what he tells humans the world over is even more true for us.

We have allowed political, economic and cultural bosses to indoctrinate us into accepting our present situation as inevitable and, as the Catholic Church would have us believe, God-ordained. As a nation we have been gazing at a “single future,” one that lies along the socio-economic road we have been on since colonial times.

It is an ambiguous future, to say the least, as economic pundits see no solution to mass poverty anywhere in the world in the neoliberal capitalist economic system. This system which the accident of our colonization planted in the country is based on absolute ownership of private property, giving the country’s owning few a generally insurmountable lead in the race for financial stability and growth.

We celebrated National Heroes Day even as we debated who our real heroes are. I, however, put national heroes down as liberators. Hence, the question is more of who liberated us from a social order that makes gods of the few on top of an economic system that concentrates wealth in their hands to the exclusion of many.

Plebeian Andres Bonifacio might have liberated us, but we can’t know that anymore because he did not survive the revolution. What we know is that the Ilustrados (who did him in?) did not liberate us from the system’s bondage. They merely took over control of a system which up till now still marginalizes the Filipino masses.

We need modern day heroes (at home, school, church, government and business) who would “shake us free” of a mindset that gazes at a “single future” on the road of an economic system which, in both theory and practice, widens the gap between the rich and the poor.

We need heroes who would foster a common effort “to envision alternative futures” on another road, that of a cooperative and mutual-help system that distributes the country’s material wealth in a manner that benefits most every Filipino.