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Enough with the blame game

05:04 AM May 21, 2019

Bobotante, stupid, the harbingers of doom.”

Wherever I scrolled my timeline, whether it was on Facebook or Twitter or even on Instagram Stories, friends had the same sentiment the day after the elections. The masses have doomed us once again, they said; the masa’s lack of understanding ushered yet again a slate of traditional politicians who are out for self-enrichment. This is why we can’t have nice things, one said. They are destroying the very fibers of our democracy, another posted.

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I was amused and saddened at the same time. It seems that just like smart-shaming is now definitely a thing, we have also proudly accepted intellectual elitism. We’re quick to judge those who belong to a lower-income class, those who were not privileged enough to get a degree, those who have it harder than us. We’re quick to blame them for dragging us down. We say that they are prolonging our suffering with their decision to vote for people who won’t do any good for the country. We blame them for not being smart enough to pick between right and wrong.

We’re quick to assign blame, we’re rushing into conclusions. But have we tried taking some time to think about how the majority sees it?

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We tend to see the world from a single perspective—our own. We do and respond to things based on how we perceive them. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s human nature. It only gets problematic when we force every person around us to see things as we see them. This is further exacerbated by social media, with our echo chambers and social bubbles. We believe that more people think like us, that they are guided by the same principles. We think that more people have the same concerns as us. But we’re wrong.

To many in my social circle, this election stood for so many things; it was a repudiation of a nontraditional president, who bucked every moral code we ascribe to. They said it was a fight for the very spirit of our nation. They said this was a chance to strengthen the opposition so that we can tip the balance of power slightly in our favor.

But for many other people, including those who belong to the so-called masa, this election was simple: It was about issues of the gut. This election was between people who could help them now versus people who were promising to help them through abstract means. This election was binary: who could give them food on their tables, medicine for their sick loved ones, and primary education for their children.

Yes, some of them even sold their votes, because they had a family at home that needed to eat, or maybe they had family members who needed medicine. We will never understand how poverty impacts the way they think, because we’re privileged enough to be shielded from it.

They weren’t interested in discussions about intellectual issues. They just wanted to have a fighting chance at life, a chance to have it better. And I can’t blame them.

A majority of our countrymen do not have access to the information that we have access to. Many of them didn’t have the luxury of a college education. From the get-go, they were given a much more difficult hand to deal with. The odds were
never in their favor.

I can go into a long discussion on how politicians in our country would want to keep most Filipinos in the dark, begging for scraps, as elected leaders brazenly steal from our country’s coffers. But it will be pointless, because all of us know it is a
cycle with no end in sight.

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So what can we do, you ask?

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time that we do more for this democracy. For the longest time, we’ve chosen to believe that the only sacrifices we needed to commit to this country are paying taxes and taking time to vote. But we need to do so much more. We need to educate our countrymen about their right to suffrage. We need to increase public participation. We need to work together for the common good of all citizens.

The results of this election are a wake-up call—that the time for tribalism and elitism are not doing us any good, and we should leave them behind us. It shouldn’t be us versus them. We’re all in this together, whether one likes it or not. Making this country work for all Filipinos is a great undertaking, and the task of nation-building demands so much more from us. So, please, enough with the blame game; let’s do something about our situation.

Immanuel Pastolero is a senior manager at an integrated marketing communications agency in Ortigas.

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TAGS: 2019 elections, Immanuel Pastolero, Inquirer Commentary, intellectual elitism, smart-shaming
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