Carvajal: Synthesis

Orlando Carvajal

LOOKING at the drug problem from the demand side, the drug users’ side, VP Leni Robredo really nails it when she diagnoses it as a health problem, a psychosocial health problem, if I might add. As such it can be solved by striking at its roots in our society’s cultural milieu.

The solution will depend on the answer or answers to the question--what in our value-system (in our ways of defining success) are making people unable to enjoy life or face up to its day-to-day challenges without using drugs.

Answering the question alone takes a long time and doing something on the basis of those answers takes even longer because there are as many answers as there are experts not to mention the high probability of the answers being politically colored and hence muddled.

Looking at it from the supply side, from the side of manufacturers, distributors, and pushers of illegal drugs, President Rodrigo Duterte is also spot on in diagnosing the drug problem as one of a hydra monster’s evil greed. As such it can be solved by cutting off the hydra’s many heads.

This, however, and as Duterte has found out, is easier said than done and also takes time. First of all, the hydra’s main heads are outside the country and cannot be cut that simply. And second of all, when you cut off one local and smaller head another grows in its place.

According to the Philosopher Hegel, ideas grow starting with a thesis (like a positive position vis-à-vis a problem) and followed by an antithesis (a denial of the thesis or an opposite position). Finally, the conflict between thesis and anti-thesis is resolved with a third idea, a synthesis.

If we started solving the drug problem (and failed) with Duterte’s supply side thesis, we can expect VP Robredo’s demand side antithesis to also fail because, if Hegel as I am convinced is right, the final solution is in a synthesis or the coming together of the two sides of the problem and the two equally correct yet equally partial definitions of and approaches to the problem.

I am not surprised that Duterte’s war failed. He was addressing only the supply side of the problem yet he could not really get to big-time foreign suppliers.

With Robredo’s appointment, this country will be attacking the drug problem from the demand side and mainly as a health problem. If she failed, as I expect her to because I believe in Hegel’s formula, we would at least be on our way towards settling the conflict between two diagnoses and two cures of the problem with the needed synthesis.

My hope of a synthesis is for Duterte and Robredo to toss politics and together work out a two-pronged assault on the supply and demand sides of the drug problem. After all, at stake is the nation’s, not anybody’s political, health.