Carvajal: In search of soul

Orlando P. Carvajal
·3 min read

US President-elect Joe Biden, in his victory speech to the American people, highlighted the difficult and arduous task of unifying a “deeply divided America,” of restoring “America’s sense of purpose,” of “healing the soul of America” so every American gets “a fair shot” at the American dream.

This is not half as difficult and arduous as the Filipino people’s task of acquiring a sense of common purpose or national soul that would unify us into a Filipino nation. That we have never managed to acquire a soul, to have a sense of common purpose deprives (the majority of) Filipinos of a fair chance of attaining the quality life that has so far been within the grasp of only a privileged and powerful few.

It is even more difficult as our leaders have never cared for a soul. A broad coalition of us, a most difficult thing to do in a more deeply divided Philippines, has to be in the forefront of the search for soul, for a sense of purpose that will drive this nation to give every Filipino a fair chance of achieving a quality of life worthy of a human being.

Our political, business, and even religious leaders have their own parochial sense of purpose. Parochial, because it has so far not included the installation of a new social order that liberates Filipinos from a culture of dependence before on colonial masters and now on oligarchs and their political allies who exclusively enjoy the benefits of the country’s resources.

We don’t have a soul because neither do the rest of us want to change the social system into one of justice and equality for all. Aping our past and present masters, we are content to claw our way to the top of the economic and political totem pole in the same manner our leaders got there, without caring who get trampled on the way to the top.

Less than a nation for lack of a sense of purpose, we are really a bunch of regional tribes playing one-upmanship games with one another. Who needs a national soul or a sense of common purpose in a new social order when we can just hitch our life-wagons to the political, business, and religious stars of our choice without a soul to unite us into a nation with one common purpose of giving every Filipino a fair chance at our own Filipino dream?

Our leaders’ souls have so far been for sale to whoever can help them attain their ambitions of wealth and power. The rest of us have so far been happy to sell our souls to whoever can promise us relief, no matter how temporary and damning to others, from our impoverished lives.

In short, we are soulless. A soul that is for sale is not soul but absence of soul. We still have to acquire a soul, a sense of purpose for the good of all. The tragedy is we are not in search of such a soul.