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Monday, February 26, 2024

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The catastrophes that we face

(Continuing from last month)

There are ten. Six have been previously discussed: rising Celsius, conflagrations, contagions, congestion, carbon-based culture, and creating alternative natures. This month, the last four:
Collapsing life support systems. Life support systems encompass the biotic and abiotic elements and processes in a place and time, that, together, in their diversity, interactions, and interdependence, create life and the sustenance of life. A tree produces oxygen for humans and other animals to breathe. So do plankters and phytoplankters that produce some 70% of earth’s oxygen. Endangering them and their communities, like cutting them down or polluting our oceans, could reduce their capacities to produce oxygen. Without oxygen, life would be lost. Trees inhales carbon. They reduce the carbon in the atmosphere that affect climate patterns and behaviors. Cutting down trees and killing sea life with pollution and plastics would not only cut down oxygen production but also the planet’s ability to sequester carbon and reduce its load in the atmosphere. The “web of life” is exactly that, a web; an interacting whole made of many different organisms and biophysical and geochemical processes in the planet. When the web collapses because of our abuse of nature, we go nowhere but to a pathway of catastrophe.
Cultural homogenization. As diverse as are life support systems in our biosphere (the world of life and life support systems in our planet), so are the cultural systems in our ethnosphere (the world of people as societies and communities). Diversity is the foundation of stability and of synergies that create growth and advancements. In our biological world, the interactions of predators and prey and of producers and consumers, create a balance of populations that together spin (or synergizes) into evolving new life and sustaining life (through reproduction and genetic enrichment) and protecting life (like controlling pests and diseases, stabilizing water and carbon cycles, and balancing “rhythms and harmony in nature”, which are phrases in our Constitution about the rights of Filipinos to a “balanced ecology”). It’s the same with cultures. Diversity enriches, sustains, and strengthens cultures because interaction of cultures highlights each other’s unique values, unique beauties, distinctiveness, and the richness of human traditions. Each is a one-of-a-kind expression of a community’s identity and, in their diversity, makes cultures a canvass of breathtaking colors of our humanity. Homogenizing cultures – making them all the same, or some dominant ones suppressing and absorbing others – would be a tragic diminishment of the colors of our humanness. More tragic would be when the knowledge systems and traditions of a culture, that otherwise contain unique strategies to surviving variations of conditions in our world, would be gone forever and we lose important cultural competencies to adapt to changing conditions in our planet.
Criminality. This refers to a catastrophe in our civic life when powers in society flaunt laws and defang the moral and ethical rules and standards of the nation, gnashing them with the grinding molars of the selective marshaling of law as a weapon against political opponents. This is using law to engage in moral, political, and legal lawlessness. La Viña discusses this in La Viña 2020, in https://www.facebook.com/609776966/posts/10158195378666967/?d=n). For sure, law must be used for ordering society. It’s been widely used for such end, in fact. What’s catastrophic is when society drifts toward using law for selective enforcement and selective enthusiasm to use it to its hilt against a few in the political space. This pulls down confidence on how the law is made to equitably and fairly achieve order in the Republic, which, when it had spiraled down to the bottom, may tear up the moral fabric of governance in our country.
An apathy. We don’t care. And this, friend, is our worst catastrophe.

By Ben S. Malayang III

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