Declaration Directed to the Chilean People

Declaration Directed to the Chilean People

Alfredo Sfeir Younis, PH.D.

Today I speak as a simple Chilean citizen.

You have written one of the most important chapters in the contemporary history of Chile. You have taken a step of great human and social content, accompanied by peace and happiness, which we lacked a long time ago. In the past, when we volunteered to talk about these human dimensions, the debate and conversation took another turn and, in the end, our different vision disappeared. Today, this has changed, you have changed it, and we all appreciate it, including future generations that are yet to come. It has been shown that these citizen processes are not simply a declaration of “war” and “violence” as has been said.

How to understand my reflections? Not as a collection of measures, in parallel or in contradiction to the market of offerings that we see today: the construction of a poinsettia tree. My reflections try to contribute to a strategic call, with the idea of positioning ourselves today in the face of a new future.

  • First, and from now on, the debate, the critical path, the compass, and the forms of leadership must go in another direction..  
  • Second, I see this moment as a great opportunity to change, transform, and self-fulfill. Also, an opportunity to serve.  
  • Third, we are at a turning point. At a point where our life and our consciousness are ONE, and where there is not and should not be duality. It is a moment of union, where we must be very aware and focused
  • Fourth, we must not let our consciences and minds be trapped by a sick economism, when the economy is nothing more and nothing less than people: us. The economy must be at our service.  
  • Fifth, today’s collective emotions must have the collective ability to ignite our spiritual dawn, our individual and social identity, and our sense of belonging, and not allow these emotions to leave us paralyzed by deepening (entangled) in negative emotions.

Furthermore, this historic step has created a new consciousness and energy within our society. We cannot lose, deplete or eliminate this energy. This energy must be channeled towards the construction of a new society, a new institutionality, a new leadership, and a new way of doing politics. Today, the new path must be opened as a result of a correct vision, which allows us to conscientiously evaluate whether the actions offered have the merits that we are really waiting for. Let’s not allow them to push us to choose what “others” think are the perfect actions, when we all know that these proposals are the fruit of a wrong vision. This great awakening must entail a commitment and a responsibility to build that future together.

I understand this new dawn as a profound change in the political, economic, institutional and social aspects; something that I have wanted and shared for several decades. In the ocean of diverse human, social, environmental and spiritual realities that our society lives, the proposals that I see today are like the remedies that can be bought without a prescription, and that have a very limited impact; and, where the label generally says: “They are only for a temporary improvement of symptoms, and if symptoms persist, visit your doctor.” Therefore, the solutions of a purely economic nature that are now being offered are simply patchwork solutions, or temporary social containment measures.

Let’s not get confused. This transformation must go far beyond simple economic demands. There has to be another economic system that is not this individualistic and materialist neoliberalism, such as, for example, the circular economy or the care economy. We cannot accept economic measures that are born from the same institutionality that created the problems that we confront (neoliberalism). There is no doubt that several measures have merits in themselves (eg, such as an increase in pensions) but, at the same time, we must look towards the horizon that produces the change we really want (eg, the creation of a system of social security in all its thickness). You have to start right now. This, through a collective map of transformation that will delimit the spaces of action and behavior; a compass, which will define the intention and trajectory of the path to choose; and our wisdom, which will build a new social grammar in the field of individual and social action and behavior. Right now, the great challenge is to set the compass in the right direction.

From now on, we can no longer live indifferent or on automatic pilot. It has to be a conscious social construction of the highest level. I am convinced that we have an unlimited capacity to create a new future. Our own future. As a simple citizen, I have the desire to participate together with all of you in the construction of this new society, of this new future. Let us not accept that a path is imposed that finally becomes more of a setback than a real advance: that they make us make a U-turn. And for this we must prepare ourselves to govern, prepare for the unknown, to pay attention to our walk as collective. The exercise of power goes far beyond actions of an economic nature. We do not need more years of experience but a true and effective citizen empowerment, or that we continue to imitate other countries, practicing economic and political models that are not ours. We must have our own dreams. We are a society that has the right to live its present, which represents the only scaffold to build a new society. Today’s economic and political model is made to keep us distracted. Therefore, we must be very willing to include everyone for the benefit of all.

We are the architects and witnesses of a great awakening, and decide if we move towards a new path of development and human-social transformation, or if we put all the energy to return to the past (which has already passed). Let’s not go back to the past; we will become a pillar of salt. We need to build a sustainable society with an empowered citizenship through a collective commitment. This is the other way. Yes, we must all commit. A commitment, for example, with our children, with the elderly, with the most vulnerable … We also need the practice of empowered politics through another commitment: a new participatory and deliberative citizen democracy. But, make no mistake, because part of this commitment is also to heal our deep wounds that hurt and divide us. Healing must be a priority within our new society.

Having a vision accompanied by powerful and effective strategies is key, particularly in times of crisis. Many social movements (eg, the Arab Spring, the indignados, the occupiers, etc.) have disappeared, or have been integrated into the traditional political institutionality that, for the most part, has been the very source of the problems that they themselves as political movements they detested. An institutionality that appears as indomitable as taming a white elephant. This exacerbates the need to define leaderships that move and build based on the energies of the people (you). We must “conserve” and “manage” our energies carefully, because the road is very long. Let’s not waste time blaming or criticizing ourselves, but contributing to this great challenge. Today, we have the option of walking into the past or into the future. Let’s walk into the future. And, when I speak of the future, I do not necessarily speak of robotics but of a deep humanism. I am not talking about materiality but about the spirituality of a nation. I am not talking about simple speeches, but about a new social grammar.

Let’s not enter the space of collective political anxiety, because if our mind is trapped by political anxiety, it is most likely that this anxiety will translate into what creates the most collective fear in us. An anxious mind will not allow us to capture the most important of these moments. I ask that anxiety not make us go back to the past, but rather strengthen us on the path to a new form of solidarity, cooperation, and social peace. Our mind should not rest in the past but enrich itself from the present, and walk towards a new social horizon. They want us to waste our time, to run out, to make the wrong decisions, to accept quick consumption measures. In the last march we have conquered our fears and we have clearly expressed what we want. It will be our inner strength and consciousness that will allow us to fully join, understand the historical dimension that we live, settle in the place where we want to be, and determine how we are going to walk towards a new future. I start from the basis that what we are experiencing is something true, not a fad, and that it is here to stay. That demands listening to what is happening on a very subtle level. Let’s not be influenced by the media.

Todo lo anterior requerirá de una nueva constitución; de enfoques innovadores respecto de la institucionalidad nacional existente (privada y pública); de asignación derechos de propiedad y responsabilidades colectivas; de liderazgo colectivo local, regional y nacional; de asignación de nuestros recursos (especialmente nuestros recursos naturales y sus respectivos servicios); de entendimiento respecto de lo que entendemos por progreso, desarrollo, bienestar, competitividad; etc.   Muchos esperan que yo genere una lista de acciones concretas en contraposición a lo que se ha puesto sobre la mesa.  Mi preocupación es como juntos vamos a definir el contenido de esas medidas.  Este es un proceso y no necesariamente un documento como este.  Por eso pienso que es la sociedad civil la que debe jugar el papel de generar las acciones concretas, y los lideres o voceros que ellos encuentren representativos, como servidores mandatados de esas acciones.  Para aquellos que quieren saber mi opinión, vean lo que dije en la campaña presidencial del 2013, y la campaña senatorial de 2017, mas todas las publicaciones que he hecho a través de Facebook y otros medios sociales de comunicación: cambios institucionales (nueva constitución, no más de 10 ministerios, una sola cámara en el congreso, no más AFPs, una sociedad basada en los derechos y no en el mercado); cambios de gobernabilidad (todos los recursos naturales deben ser de propiedad de la ciudadanía con la garantía del estado, regionalización total, ordenamiento territorial); cambios en el sistema económico (una economía circular, una economía del cuidado, salario mínimo ético, pensión mínima equivalente al salario mínimo); cambios de valores y hábitos (valores colectivos, valores naturales); etc.

Before concluding, I would like to say that I do not want to see my country only materially rich, but spiritually poor. We want a happy, compassionate society, dedicated to the best that we have as citizens. I have always offered the country the best of myself, the best that I can give, not to gain more personal power, but as a personal form of collective service.

Thank you.

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