Carvajal: Huge disconnect

Technological advances have clearly made life easier not only for the rich but also, to a lesser degree, for the poor. What is not clear is if we are happier than our ancestors who did not have the conveniences we now enjoy. Like, are we, who take a shower or bath inside our homes, happier than our ancestors who had to do it beside a well or in a stream nearby?

The answer depends on how one defines happiness. For most people happiness is the pleasant sensation after an expectation is met. If so, our ancestors, who didn’t know and couldn’t possibly hope for anything better, could have been happier bathing in a stream than many of us who don’t have running water, much less a house of our own.

Lately, a Pulse Asia Survey put 92 percent of Filipinos down as hopeful for 2023. Considering our dire economic circumstance, the presumption is they are hopeful for higher-paying jobs, decent housing, well-stocked medical centers, and lower prices for prime commodities, etc., in 2023.

Sorry to disappoint but these expectations will again not be met for the usual reason that our rulers always prioritize their wants and not the people’s musts. President Bongbong Marcos (PBBM) recently promised the country a world-class army, navy, and air force. This is on top of on-going world-class projects that include an unwarranted sovereign fund. But he has yet to promise and resolve that he will raise wages, schools and health centers, housing, agricultural productivity, the justice system, etc., to world-class standards.

Filipinos will be disappointed and unhappy, as they have always been, because of the huge disconnect between their expectations and those of the monarchy and nobility of Philippine society. But PBBM, who, according to his New Year address to the nation, faces 2023 with hope and optimism, will not disappoint himself and the nobility. He and his nobles know what they want and they have the political clout to get what they want.

Maybe, therefore, we should stop expecting anything from elitist rulers whose priorities the average Filipino cannot relate to. (What does a world-class Armed Forces mean to a Filipino who can barely feed his family?) To be realistically hopeful, maybe we should have expectations that are not contingent on government support but can be met on our own steam.

Lest, however, we subconsciously misconstrue this as surrender and become passive, we must actively unite to peacefully and legally acquire an effective voice in government. Not until workers, farmers and the like are united under one Labor Party, for instance, will people’s basic musts have a chance to be more than temporarily alleviated by trickles from rulers’ wants.

The marginalized sector’s unity around their musts (not unity with PBBM’s wants) is a consummation devoutly to be wished. Nothing like a strong Labor Party to remove the huge disconnect.

Free, courageous, and peaceful New Year to all.