The alternative development paradigm

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By Orlan R. Ravanera

Kim's Dream

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


FOR the first time in its history, the United Nations has declared a year (2012) as International Year of the Cooperatives (IYC) because, as pronounced by the UN’s theme, “Cooperatives build a better world.”The one billion members of cooperatives worldwide celebrated the year with “fire in their hearts and wings on their feet,” that created a spectacular explosion of the cooperative spirit that shines through like a beacon of light amidst the darkness of poverty.

And why not? Don’t you know that in the world of cooperativism, the sun does set? Yes, while it sets in one country whose people give high adherence to the time-honored and universally accepted cooperative principles, the sun rises in another country whose inhabitants follow the same values and principles. Proof of this is the more than 100 million jobs generated by the cooperatives globally, which is 20 percent than what corporations have generated. But cooperatives are more than financial and their leaders are not just transactional; they are in fact transformative for people, planet, prosperity and peace. They are called “builders of sustainability.”

That being, the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) has not only declared a year but a decade, declaring 2011 to 2020 as a Cooperative Decade. The ICA has crafted a blueprint for the global cooperative movement to address “the growing social unrest, increasing depletion of natural resources, economic stagnation, inequities and the insecurities faced by the future generations in terms of job, essential social services and even just meeting their basic need.”

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Time is running out. Cooperativism must now be pursued to effect the much needed global major shift in development paradigm. It is scientifically predicted that in the absence of a major change, the world system, be economic or ecological, will collapse in less than one hundred years.

Indeed, there are glaring realities in the unsustainability in the ecology because of global warming, rising of the seas, melting of the iceberg (which is one thousand hectares per day), destruction of the ecosystems and massive loss of species. This is not alien to us Filipinos having experienced the yearly occurrences of ecological disasters which are becoming the new normal that have already claimed tens of thousands of our people’s lives, the Philippines being the third in the world that is hardest hit by climate change.

Glaring also is unsustainability in the economy where unbridled consumerism and materialism is the order of the day; where there is over-eating and obesity in the North while billions are hungry in the South; and where one percent of the world’s population is in control of the 99 percent of the earth’s resources.

The call now is for inclusive growth. This can only be done when we debunk the wrong interpretation of Darwin’s Theory of natural selection that life is a struggle where the fittest survives. By fittest does not mean the strongest and the most aggressive. That interpretation has given way to the makings of a few Henry Sys, Gokongweis, Lucio Tans and what have you. By fittest, the correct interpretation, should really be most cooperative, most caring, most adaptive and most service-oriented.

This contemporaneous correct interpretation has given way to the development of cooperatives where service, not profit, is the language; where money is used NOT to make more money but to enhance the wellbeing of the members. In fact, the DNA of the cooperatives speaks well of inclusive growth. These are: (a) members-owned (b) value-based and (c) sustainability. In cooperativism, there is no such thing as “moderating one’s greed.” The cooperative members and leaders give high adherence to democratic control, participation, service, cooperation, industry, equity, social justice, community-concern, among others.

Yes, cooperatives banner the correct model and the much needed shift, from the individualized pursuit of wealth and self-aggrandizement to collective efforts (in solidarity). Even in the prayer that Christ taught us shows that collective spirit when He used the word “Our Father.”

Yes, not My but Our. When we stand as one, when we cease to live not for ourselves but for others as what the cooperatives’ raizon d’ etre is, then and only then shall we realize that King Solomon was correct after all when he said that wealth and titles are “meaningless, meaningless, utterly meaningless,” for what is important are the principles that we live by and a life well-lived for others.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 07, 2014.

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