The next battle
Let me say up front that this is an admission of remorse. Understand that although I regret it, I do recognize that I am a walking, talking, breathing disappointment, for I, along with presumably thousands of others, willingly relinquished what was possibly the most powerful weapon I had in my arsenal to help save my country.
Seven months ago, despite persistent calls by the Commission on Elections urging the voting public to register, I opted to stay home and watch “Friends” reruns while sprawled on my bed in my pajamas. I chose democratic abstinence over duty, letting what little sense of civic responsibility I had fizzle out.
I see now what a mistake that was.
The recent elections were the first that were highly hinged on social media— and boy, did it show. For an online networking service like Facebook, the primary function of which was to connect people, there seemed to have been much disconnect among its Filipino users in the past two months. In fact, it was more than mere disconnect; arrows were fired, mortars fell, and shrapnel flew, but all in the form of the written word, and the irresponsible dissemination of inaccurate, sometimes downright false, information against certain presidential candidates.
It was clear from where I sat that I was in the eye of, not innocuous online bickering, but a digital war employing the weapons of black propaganda, character assassination, and mudslinging. Ironic, given that the digital world is supposedly geared toward peace and progress. Had I known about the looming war, I never would have given up the license to participate in the elections. I wasn’t a registered voter—which, if a famous teen star would have his way, meant I had no right to take part in the political discourse in social media lest I be told to “shut up na lang.” So there I was: a sitting duck as shots were fired.
I watched as friends and family members had a go at one another, deciding that they would not tolerate an opposing political stance, and ultimately severing ties.
I knew then that no one would come out of this fight the same way they went in, just as no one ever emerges from war unscathed and unchanged. But I also knew that battling it out was necessary.
I am old enough to understand that this beautiful flare of public clamor for change is what will eventually spawn progress. What I regret now is not being able to participate because I deliberately cut off my hands at the onset of the war, when I decided to abstain from voting.
Thankfully, it’s not the only battle to be won, for like I said, this is war and a war consists of many battles. Passionately fighting for your political candidate, shading your ballot and bleeding purple at the finger are just the beginning of a series of battles in the nation’s seemingly unending quest for change. The next battle, they say, is a fight far more grueling and far more challenging than the last. It is a fight in which I am glad to be given the opportunity to take part, and a fight for which I am armed to the teeth. It is a battle that goes beyond the making of a king, for it is a battle that one will have with oneself. This internal battle is made up of the little fights we face every day: the ones tempting us to beat that red light just this once; the ones coaxing us to cross streets in areas that should not be crossed; the ones telling us that no harm could come out of leaving our trash anywhere, anytime; the ones saying it’s OK to cut lines.
True, there are fights that are far graver, such as vetting and wisely choosing our leaders, but I believe it is how we win these small, internal, daily battles that will ultimately decide our nation’s fate.
Come June 30, a new banner will be raised and a new king shall rise. Darkness is slowly ebbing and light is about to break. And today, more than any other day, is a good day to win. So drive responsibly, respect authority, pick up that trash—and watch with your very eyes how quickly things change.
Kristian Somera, 26, is a freelance writer and holds a degree in mass communication from Ateneo de Davao University.
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