By Jesus P. Estanislao
One of the biggest problems we have today is the fact that, as a people, we are deeply divided. Some would even claim that we are bitterly divided.
The division is caused in part by some of our people’s unhealthy political loyalties to certain political leaders whose families have been at bitter odds with each other for decades. We see this often in social media even during non-election times.
Another reason for our divisiveness is our people’s differences in religion – the Catholics, Muslims, Protestant and Evangelical Christians, the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), being among the big congregations. In some instances, religious differences have caused violence and deaths.
Greed is yet another factor that causes division among our people.
In his book “From Third World to First,” Lee Kuan Yew described the Philippines as a country with two societies – first, the few elite who live in affluence and luxury, and second, the many poor who live a hard life.
There is greed when business owners pay their employees as contractuals with minimum wages, even if their companies earn hundreds of millions or billions in profits every year. There is greed when big farm owners enjoy all the luxuries in life, while their farm workers’ wages could barely buy decent food, or support their children’s education.
In 2014, the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Watch, a global wealth monitoring entity, reported that the 1% richest Filipinos own and control around 40% of our country’s wealth and resources, while the 10% richest Filipinos own and control almost 80% of the same.
Greed is perhaps the most divisive and destructive of all the factors. It is greed that causes much gap and division in our country.
Political loyalties, religious differences, greed are just among the several factors that create deep divisions among our people.
How can we unite our people under these circumstances?
What common ground or denominator, existing or still to be developed, can we use to help in uniting our people?
Truly, our country needs some kind of a gel that can unite us and make us whole, as one people and one nation.
What would it be?
Maybe we can begin by planting seeds of unity and cooperation in the hearts and minds of our children today.
A national core value on Kapatiran – na iisang pamilya lang tayong mga Pilipino, na kapatid natin ang kapwa Pilipino – is a seed of unity that we can plant this early in the young hearts and minds of our students.
Kapatiran, as a word, means brotherhood or solidarity of people. Kapatiran was the aspiration of Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini, and Emilio Jacinto for the Filipino people.
Kapatiran is loving God in action, by loving others as our brethren, hopefully in the same manner and measure as we love ourselves.
If we start doing this seriously today and every day thereafter, perhaps we will be able to raise generation after generation of young Filipinos who will truly believe in the depths of their beings that every Filipino is a brethren, even if they belong to other religious groups or ethnic communities; who when they become employers will pay their employees well and equitably; who truly believe in their hearts that we are but one family as a people.