IMPULSES: How are we complicit?

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By Herman M. Lagon

During a recent NAST-DOST hosted Sustainable Development Goals convention at the Grand Xing Imperial Hotel in Iloilo, UP Visayas Chancellor Dr. Clement Camposano challenged attendees, primarily scientists, technologists, educators, researchers, and policymakers, with a probing question: “How are we complicit to the inequalities of the world?”

An issue that resonates deeply in our nation is the contrast between prosperity and poverty. This contrast illustrates the complexity of our country’s socioeconomic environment. Because of this, we are obligated to study the myriad ways our actions, both conscious and unconscious, contribute to the continuation of inequality.

Throughout our daily lives, cultural conventions and personal biases influence our decisions and interactions, frequently inadvertently reinforcing social hierarchies. These biases can manifest in various aspects of life, such as favoring job candidates who have attended prominent institutions or behaving differently with individuals from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. One of the most critical steps we can take toward achieving equity is recognizing and eliminating these biases.

The decisions that we make as consumers also play a crucial effect. It is common practice to support industries that abuse underpaid workers by purchasing the least expensive products without considering where they come from. It is feasible to shift market demand toward fair labor practices by giving preference to things that are supplied ethically, which will contribute to economic justice. This will be accomplished from the perspective of the market.

The creation and transmission of policies are directly influenced by the participant’s level of involvement in political processes and the absence of such involvement. In our country, which features dynamic yet polarized political landscapes, voter indifference, and misinformation can lead to a government that either does not address inequality or makes it worse. Initiatives such as voting with informed consent and holding leaders accountable are two examples of the things necessary to construct social institutions that are equitable for all individuals.

Then, here comes the digital media. The platforms it offers routinely promote disputed and misleading narratives, widening the divides that already exist in society. Even though social media platforms are transforming how information is received, they consistently promote contentious and incorrect narratives. Engaging with varied points of view that are not contained within our traditional digital echo chambers can be beneficial to us as we work toward cultivating a more thorough grasp of the difficulties that the community is trying to overcome.

Meanwhile, both the existing inequalities and the gaps in education reflect and amplify the given inequalities. A strong association exists between an individual’s socioeconomic background and the degree of education available, perpetuating a cycle of poverty from one generation to the next. Addressing these imbalances, breaking this cycle, and enhancing social and economic results over time is necessary.

Workplace dynamics can also reflect and perpetuate societal hierarchies, leading to barriers to opportunity and growth based on characteristics such as degree of education, gender, or socioeconomic position. These barriers can be created due to the dynamics of employment. It is vital to build conditions inviting to all people and allow them to achieve success so that society can advance. This provides the opportunity for people to succeed.

One course of action that has the potential to impact the community significantly is assisting local businesses. Economic policies that favor giant foreign corporations with disproportionate power often hamper the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the local community. We can create a more equal economic landscape by purchasing goods and services from local establishments like those nearby.

The media significantly influences people’s perceptions of society and has a tremendous impact on both. Stories that shine light on the issues that marginalized people experience are typically ignored in favor of news that is published with higher sensationalism. This is because this type of news publishes more sensationalism. When this occurs, the news is reported with increased hype. It is possible to provide financial support to media sources that report thoroughly and diversely to achieve the goals of changing narratives about inequality and enhancing social understanding and empathy.

In addition, our actions have repercussions worldwide, particularly in a country such as ours that has a sizeable workforce in other countries. When it comes to the potential outcomes that our actions may bring about, we are particularly susceptible to the consequences. When we have a better grasp of our position in the global economy, we are better able to realize how our actions affect individuals and communities all over the world. This, in turn, helps to develop a sense of international solidarity.

Environmental issues typically disproportionately influence the places that are the most economically poor. This is because of the connection between the two. Those individuals who advocate for equitable environmental policies have the potential to guarantee that the benefits and liabilities associated with environmental sustainability are divided equitably. In turn, this contributes to developing more complete and effective solutions over a more extended period.

In addition to being unsettling, it is essential to consider the myriad ways we have contributed to these problems. Every decision we make, whether as customers, voters, or community members, either upholds the established order or threatens the current state of affairs. Acknowledging our participation in these processes is the first step in making well-informed decisions that promote equity.

Coordinating efforts to address inequality on a global basis is necessary. Through the utilization of education, activism, and a commitment to finding social justice, it is possible to bring about a change in both the policies and the mentalities that are in place. The process of bringing about this transformation can be accomplished using these methods. 

So, can we make decisions that will lead to a more egalitarian and welcoming society? Let us make an effort to recognize and accept responsibility for our role in maintaining inequities from the beginning. As we consider the challenge posed by Dr. Camposano, let us shift from being mere observers to becoming active players in forming a just society.

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