The theme for this year’s Co-op Month Celebration, when it got out, instantly gathered hundreds of comments and most of them are negative. Co-op netizens from all over the country posted on social media their opinions regarding the theme. The problem with social media is that there is no restraint in writing comments so that even those perceived to be unprofessional and uncalled for are publicly published for all the world to see. (Well, the good thing about it is that you get to know what people are thinking about you but afraid to tell face to face.) The theme was seen as out of this world, difficult to grasp and caused “nose bleeding”. On second glance however, the theme seems to have sense.
The theme reads: “COOPERATIVISM: A Countervailing Force Against Climate Change and Violent Extremism through People Empowerment to Trailblaze Shift in Paradigm Towards Sustainability and Social Inclusion!”
Some criticisms however, are valid and on point. But another problem with us is that we talk about issues among ourselves and making judgements without giving the concerned person responsible the chance to explain or elaborate. After looking at the discussions I would like to throw my two-cents worth opinion into the ring.
It is high time that we look at co-operatives as a countervailing force. A force that will be actively involved on the prevailing social issues of today such as those mentioned in the theme. It is high time that co-ops shift their paradigms from looking only at themselves and interests to looking at the outside world. I believe co-ops can do a lot to make the world we live in a better place. They are empowered by law to make an impact in the community they live in. There is a provision of law wherein they are required to allot a certain percentage from their net surplus for community development. And at the same time, co-ops can use this as an advantage for image building initiatives that will promote co-ops as a preferred business model.
We have environmental challenges that I believe co-ops can assist in their mitigation. Co-ops can help in caring for the environment. Co-ops can do tree planting, river clean-up, garbage recycling, etc. Co-operativism could be a better alternative to insurgency or violent extremism as used in the theme. Co-operativism could be an answer to correct social wrongs and injustices which are the causes that often push people to go to the mountains. In fact, more and more people are considering co-operativism as a tool under the ELCAC Program of the present administration. (ELCAC stands for End Local Communist Armed Conflict).
One of the objectives of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) as embodied in their 2020 Vision is that by year 2020, co-ops should already become an acknowledged leader in economic, social and environmental sustainability.
It is no longer about us only. We cannot afford to sit comfortably inside our cocoon and watch the outside world disintegrate. Co-operativism is helping make our world a better place. Co-operativism is about improving humanity. That’s what the theme is all about.