COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/19 March) — We are living in interesting times, to say the least. We hear several calls and warnings to heed the writings on the wall else we all perish.
One prominent call is about climate change. We see the spectre of flood in the low plains and drought in the high lands that threaten the food security of the entire planet. We continue to watch with great dismay the seeming uncontrollable spiralling cost of fossil fuel due to the still unfolding crisis in the Middle East.
Then there are the rapid advances in technology and the rapid movements both of trade and peoples across known frontiers and borders. With this, a new horizon and a new consciousness are beginning to emerge, which point to knowledge “explosion” and an opening into the limitless cyberspace. I often wonder whether these new writings on the wall are actual invitations not only to look bigger but also become bigger.
Will the emerging new consciousness spawn a new macro and mega identity? Are we seeing a birthing of a new identity that is beyond our ethnicity and religions? Among social activists, we hear more and more people speak of being global citizens. They emphasize that everyone in the planet has a duty to speak and act for humanity and human rights.
There are two powerful symbols that describe the two perspectives above. The first one is the “transit paradigm”. “Transit” is the instrument used mainly by surveyors to delineate territory and geography. While “transit” has a long view, it always returns home to concrete and specific point or area and space. The other is the “telescope paradigm”. “Telescope” is the instrument used not only to see the “beyond” but also to bridge us to that reality beyond.
The “transit paradigm” marks and delineates our boundaries and limits. It tells us “what is mine and what is yours”. Translated in our present discourse, this means the delineation of what shall be inside or outside my abode or community or region.
Concretely, this paradigm debates over what barangays, towns, provinces and body of water need to be included or re-attached to ancestral domain? Often, the debates sound like the usual discourse of real estate realtors negotiating over this piece of land or that piece of body waters and the price involved in the transaction.
It is rather eerie to hear people debate heatedly and sometimes go to war on this subject when we are supposedly living in an era of “no borders and frontiers”. Transit paradigm is border/frontier-based hence it carries inevitably a culture that is also land-based identity. Naturally, ethnicity and nationality that are geography based become important in this discourse.
In a smaller yet fast emerging consciousness, we are seeing, today, the collapse of borders and the emergence of mega nationalities and identity. It introduces a new discourse that claims the need to evolve a sort of mega nationality – like ASEAN or continental identity – Asia!
Whether we like it or not, climate change will change all these borders and frontiers. We do not know, as yet, the full impact of this climate change to humanity, our planet and the whole planetary system. This reality is forcing us to speak no longer of this planet but of the planetary systems and galaxy!
I believe that while we continue the peace talks, we should begin locating the solutions to some of the intractable, identity-based conflicts beyond the limits of the present geopolitical landscape. What truly matters is not the question of this piece of land or that piece of body water – not the Muslim Mindanao nor the bigger Mindanao, not this archipelago or that group of islands – but the survival of this planet and humankind.
We need to be able to decipher the writings on the wall. I believe that we need to get our acts together behind the call for planetary survival and interreligious dialogue and intercultural cooperation in building a global community and global citizenship that is not only more peaceful equitable and just but also ecology friendly that would ensure our survival and the planet earth.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Balintataw is Fr. Eliseo “Jun” Mercado’s column for the weekly Mindanao Cross in Cotabato City)