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FLEA MARKET OF IDEAS

Ignite activism, foster sharing

/ 12:08 AM January 23, 2017

Almost all Filipinos endowed with talent or resources that enable them to become agents of change in Philippine society enjoy First World living conditions within the four corners of their home, but endure Third World realities outside.

Within their residence, they enjoy the modern amenities found in wealthy countries. Their abode is squeaky clean, a pristine aquarium with colorful fish and corals adorns their living room, and their children are drilled in manners and morals.

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Outside their dwelling, however, they make do with dilapidated roads, dirty surroundings, polluted rivers and seas, and crooked public officials. In most instances, they are even responsible for the filth and mess outside their home.

Most of us Filipinos who have achieved respectable levels of professional or business success live in bubbles of prosperity. And our continuing ventures toward more success are aimed at adding more fortune to our private enclaves of prosperity.

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All of our efforts are devoted toward the accumulation of private wealth that will result in the betterment of our private lives. But we exert no equal effort to contribute to public wealth that should bring improvements in our collective life as a community.

Improved public wealth in our communities translates to better roads, clean and orderly public spaces, honest and efficient public servants, and economically uplifted neighbors who will then become our empowered comrades in the fight to make our government shape up.

What right do we have to expect, and even demand, the betterment of the conditions outside of our prosperous dwellings when we contribute no investment at all in enhancing the public wealth of our communities?

We vote for our chosen candidates during elections, and expect that upon their assumption of office, the ballots that we cast will metaphorically turn into winning lotto tickets that bring instant prosperity to our communities.

We disregard the stark reality that the candidates we elect will be surrounded by swindlers who steal the promise of prosperity from our communities, or that many of them will succumb to the strong temptation to become swindlers themselves.

Investing in the public wealth of our communities—and of our country, for that matter—requires more than merely casting our lot with the ballots that we cast. It requires us to be intrusive and meddlesome in the affairs of government. It requires us to be in the streets, noisily complaining against abuses of power and boisterously demanding reforms in government, to be engaged in all forms of media and making our voices of condemnation heard against inadequacies and failures in the rendition of public services, and to take part in the filing of cases against dishonest officials.

Apart from protest actions, there is an abundant need for civic-minded initiatives to help our underprivileged neighbors stand on their own in improving their lives. We all have skills, talents, or resources that can be shared with the members of our community who are in need. A chef can hold workshops to tweak the recipes and increase the sales of kakanin vendors. An artist can lead arts and craft seminars using organic materials abundant in the municipality. An employer can sponsor the minimal fees for his or her housemaid’s child to attend Tesda vocational courses on driving, carpentry, plumbing, bartending, commercial cooking, food and beverage servicing, aquaculture, and hairdressing, among others.

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Every Filipino who is endowed with talent or resources that enables him or her to become an agent of transformation in this country should have the dual objective of igniting a culture of activism in our people’s relationship with government, and of fostering a sense of sharing in our people’s relationship with one another.

The private wealth that we enjoy comes from our community. We must give back to the community that has been generous to us with life’s blessings.

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TAGS: activism, economy, opinion, Sharing, Third World, wealth
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