ON my way down south last weekend, my seatmate inside the van from Shaw Boulevard appeared impatient. “Haist, buhay Pinas talaga! Dapat may gawin sila sa impyernong trapik na ito!” she exclaimed.
Who she was referring to exactly, I don’t know. The government? Our legislators? The MMDA? The LGUs? Or commuters themselves?
At a state university where I attended classes, I heard the same lament of my classmates concerning the school’s facilities, particularly the women’s toilets. Many are angry at the university’s inaction to upgrade the facilities but only a few did something to change the situation.
Someone who knows my advocacy about rate reforms in electricity often asks: “May increase na naman sa singil sa kuryente. Sobrang burdened sa overcharges ang konsyumers! Kelan kayo mangangalampag sa ERC at Meralco?” She supports my group’s lobbying but it is more of a provocation rather than actual cooperation. When the going gets rough, she hides in her comfortable cocoon. She doesn’t want to be in hot water, she said.
Familiar, right? People complain about irregularities yet are evasive in taking action to change the course of things. They can be likened to bystanders who cheer at street fighters but are quick to scamper for safety when the police come.
This kind of attitude leaves impassioned souls to labor against the abusive system, while the apathetic ones go on with their mundane lives as if every little victory earned by dissidents does not affect them. Passively, they wait for heroes and heroines, for the knight in shining armor to rescue them. They look timidly, without lifting a finger, for fear of retribution. They say they cannot accept abuses but they will never talk about it. “‘Hangga’t sila ang nandiyan, all we can do is be silent. Ayaw natin na mi kumatok sa ating pintuan sa kadiliman ng gabi.”
To them, the apathetic side is always the safe side. So they delegate the job of dissenting to courageous souls. They join the millions who remain silent in the face of impunity.
It seems a pervasive thing to delegate. Even in the way we believe, there is a tendency to delegate our problems to God. We think that when we heap all our problems on Him, these will all vanish like magic. He will sort everything out for us but when our expectations are not met, we back out. We forget that maybe God, with all His might, has other concerns, too, and cannot attend to the pleas of every supplicant. We forget that before the alms, we need to help ourselves first.
So why delegate when we can actually act on it? We have the power to expunge anything we see as detrimental to us — be it the environment, the government, our leaders, our malfunctioned transport system, and the flawed bureaucracy. We can dissent when government policies go astray. We can intelligently criticize.
When our leaders belittle our capacity as skilled workers, we can show them what we can do. When our legislators do not act on their promises, we can reject them in the next polls. If we are disgusted with how they run the government, we can join their ranks and see if we can carry out reforms. When we see red tape, let us not nurture it by paying a bribe. Rather, let us report the anomaly.
Let us say what we think — by ourselves and not as mouthpiece of the politicians we patronize. If we find faults in our leaders, inform them. Write your concerns. Whether they act on it or not, the important thing is to send the message across. Let them know people are watching.
Like it or not, for injustice or irregularity to be effectively defeated, we need more than just moan our discontent but remain bystanders. We must not be oblivious to events that are actually unfolding before our very eyes. When exigencies call for it, we need to act. It is a small contribution to making this country work. (Laguna Now)