Posted on December 4, 2016
The EDSA Revolution, on the other hand, was an alliance of incongruent elements. Led by the Roman Catholic Church, the elite, the military and the Left, it used the masses to achieve its goals of gaining power. This alliance would break down as soon as those goals have been achieved as we have seen in history. Coup d’etats followed as soon as President Cory Aquino was catapulted to power. The NPA was stronger than ever, the masses were conveniently left out of the picture while the elite, the ruling families, the political dynasties, and the oligarchs were back in the seat of power.
When I was your age, there were no cell phones and computers were still very much at the developmental stages with a whopping memory of about
100 kilobytes. Thus we did not text, and there was no Internet yet and certainly no Facebook and other forms of social media. This probably made us more responsible. The social media is transforming the values of our youth. Why have many people become rude, ruthless, arrogant, angry, domineering, coldblooded, cruel and even inhuman in the social media? It is because they can hide behind the cloak of anonymity and escape accountability for their actions and words. They have become irresponsible. Plato many centuries ago called this the syndrome of the Ring of Gyges.
Suppose now that there were two such magic rings, and the just put on one of them and the unjust the other; no man can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice. No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of the market, or go into houses and lie with any one at his pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a god among men. Then the actions of the just would be as the actions of the unjust; they would both come at last to the same point. And this we may truly affirm to be a great proof that a man is just, not willingly or because he thinks that justice is any good to him individually, but of necessity, for wherever any one thinks that he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust.
For all men believe in their hearts that injustice is far more profitable to the individual than justice, and he who argues as I have been supposing, will say that they are right. If you could imagine any one obtaining this power of becoming invisible, and never doing any wrong or touching what was another’s, he would be thought by the lookerson to be a most wretched idiot, although they would praise him to one another’s faces, and keep up appearances with one another from a fear that they too might suffer injustice.
Through the social media we gain power without accountability, thus we are liable to use such power unjustly. The natural tendency of humans to see the negative in things becomes heightened by social media. People and organizations become mired in a culture of negativism. Their delight is the misfortune, shortcomings, or mistakes of others. As Joel Villaseca sums it up in his article Culture of Negativism (Inquirer, July 31, 2015)
I’VE HEARD a number of people, mostly fellow Filipinos, assert that we have a culture of negativism. They say we Filipinos seem to have a special talent for homing in on the bad news, on other people’s foibles, especially those in the government and those seeking to run it. With one unfortunate comment, we pounce, and pounce hard, judging that person as if his or her entire being were contained in that one unfortunate comment (or two), disregarding the totality of his or her life, the things done, the choices made, however honorable, however worthy of praise.
Do not be sucked into a culture of negativism. Avoid negative people, those who see nothing good in the world, those who do not appreciate a fine day, the warm breeze, the goodness of heart of a companion, or even the good things that your schools are doing for you. Spend two hours with negative people and you become converted. You become negative people yourselves. Spend time with positive people and the same thing happens. You become positive yourselves. Believe me, there are a lot of things to be thankful for in this life, even during the most trying of times, even during the period of our greatest challenges. I am not saying that you should be positive at all times. Being negative is part of our instinct of survival, an alarm that goes off whenever something is going wrong, but as Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) says in his song Morning Has Broken,
Morning has broken like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird. Praise for the singing,
Praise for the morning,
Praise for them springing fresh from the world.
In 1976 and 1977 we were old enough back then to understand the major issues affecting our society and mankind in general (with no offense meant for the LGBT community). We sang John Lennon’s Imagine, a song that sought a socialistic utopian form of society. “Imagine there’s no countries…Imagine there’s no heaven, Imagine no religion…Imagine no possessions”…these are all to be found in Leninist and Maoist ideologies not to mention the song’s atheistic intentions. We sang them anyway.
We were old enough to sing some of the songs in the Woodstock concert and had some hints on the connection between drugs and sex and revolutions, but it was Martial Law in the Philippines and our very own drug addicts had to content themselves with Mercodol and Corex cough syrups. Marijuana was expensive and hard to find, but we had our own brand of nationalistic songs which brought to the airwaves the longing of the youth for relevance and meaning to their lives.
Thus, we sang the songs of the Juan Dela Cruz band. I had some favorite myself such as Inday, Beep beep, Pinoy Blues (“Pinoy na walang wala at tumatanda…bakit ayaw mong tulungan ang batang nahihirapan…”)Titser’s Enemy Number 1, Langit.
We found meaning in our lives with the songs of Sampaguita, Heber Bartolome, Florante, and of course, Freddie Aguilar. We knew that we were part of society with all its ills. We were old enough to sing some of the selections in Jesus Christ Superstar, and my own favorite is from the mouth of Jesus Christ himself in retort to Judas’ advocacy that Mary of Magdala should not waste the expensive perfume and ointment on Jesus’ feet and hair and instead sell them and give them to the poor. Jesus shot back at him: “Surely you’re not saying we have the resources to save the poor from their lot? There will be poor always, pathetically struggling look at the good things you’ve got!”
Of course we do not have the resources to save the poor from their lot. Not even the government can save the poor from their lot. But in our own ways perhaps we can help to change the world. Maybe not in the radical transformation of the social order Marcos envisioned, but maybe we can begin our efforts for change in our own schools.
When I was a student leader like you I was lucky to have fought a good fight, and not as a varsity player in basketball either. Our school, the Rizal Technological Colleges, was about to be phased out, and as student leader I took the lead in its preservation. We won this one fight, and the RizalTech is now one of the leading State Universities in the country. I have known academic battles in and out of my University for 40 years. My advice is choose your battles well.
Choose your battles well. It is not wise to go against your school administration just because you think that it is your traditional role to do so and especially if there is no compelling reason to do so. Certainly, it is not wise to change the school rules which have been in effect in your schools even before you were born! Rules on hairstyles or dress codes are put in place to help you secure a bright future for yourselves. You knew those rules even before you enrolled but still you enrolled.
You may want to dwell on that issue pertaining to student rights, an issue that pervaded the academic atmosphere in the 1980s. My own doctoral dissertation, a 600page paper was written and defended in 1986 just a few days after the EDSA Revolution. This work has given me a deep understanding of the subject but more than anything else it is the right of all students to quality education that matters. It is a right that must be pursued relentlessly by school administrators, by all teachers and professors, and most importantly, by the students themselves. It is a
student right above all other student rights. You can start as soon as you go back to your respective schools by studying hard. All the things you will do today and in the following days will add up to how your future will look like. A day wasted will be a day deducted from your bright future.
Choose your battles well. It is not being a puppet of the school administration if you cooperate in the cleanliness campaigns of your school, or in recycling, or in its extension projects that would give the people in the community better lives. Reduction of plastics, reduction of garbage, teaching your fellow students to be more responsible, Clean As You Go projects, are good projects because you do battle for the environment, and I tell you these are not easy things to do. Helping your school in literacy campaigns, livelihood campaigns, give meaning to your lives. You may work on that urban agriculture project and share what you have discovered to the community.
A nice project would be to actively solicit scholarships or sponsorships from business leaders in your community. If all student organizations in your school would be able to get one or two scholarships that could be substantial and you are going to positively affect the lives of many people.
You may engage in sports activities among the members of your organizations, or maybe a triple tournament. Perhaps this time it would be a basketball tournament, and the next would be badminton. Keep on playing.
A nice project would be a system of mentoring the lower years by the higher years to help them with their difficulties.
Choose your battles well. Now you may sometimes dislike your teachers, or the system of discipline in your schools, but if the school administration is doing heartfelt improvements in your school despite limitations in funds or despite governmental regulations you should appreciate it. Studying in a university is like finding a new home you will call your own for the next four or five years. Better be in good terms with the people there. And instead of hate, be motivated by love instead.
Love gives meaning to your life. You can share your dreams if you love.
You have a good reason to live if you love. Charles Dickens summed this up perfectly in his novel A Christmas Carol, one of my favorite reads. He said “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.”