The thing with “activist” slogans proliferating in the lead up to that big 21st September rally being hyped all over social media is they all express a call to “stop” or “end” something. They are so the same and so unoriginal that you can list them all here and kind of forget which timeframe or era they belong to: “Stop the killings”, “Oust [insert name or president here]”, “End impunity”, “Tama na, Sobra Na”, “Patalsikin na, now na!”.
One forgets sometimes. Is this 2017, 2006, 2001, or 1983? Indeed, template activism makes Philippine politics seem like Groundhog Day. Because Filipinos are so incapable of original thought and are severely deficited of imagination, they are unable to lay out a roadmap beyond the end of the latest outrage fad. It is high time Filipinos junk this style of dimwitted activism and modernise their approach to calling for “change”. Filipino political chatter needs to evolve from being a retrospective backward-oriented school of thought to one that is prospective; i.e., forward-facing and focused on possibilities.
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For every new “activist” slogan, one should routinely ask:
And then what?
Stop the killings. And then what?
Pray for peace. And then what?
End tyranny. And then what?
Oust Duterte. And then what?
Filipino “thought leaders” remain imprisoned within the same thinking that made the 1986 “people power revolution” such a disappointment — that Filipinos fail to propsper because of some sort of social ill. Kesyo their government is “authoritarian” and their president a “tyrant”. Kesyo there is not enough “freedom”. Kesyo there is not enough “democracy”. Kesyo there is not enough “equality”. Kesyo there is no gay marriage. Kesyo there is rampant corruption.
Kesyo this. Kesyo that.
A lot of these “activist” movements are based on these excuses and ignore the fact that people who are built to succeed succeed under any circumstances. Take the Chinese-Filipino community. They were subject to the same governments and “social ills” that native Filipinos were subject to throughout their histroy. Yet they are now captains of Philippine industry and exert disproportionate control over the national economy.
Suffice to say, Filipino “activists” don’t focus on character and fail to ask the more important question:
Is there something about the Filipino character that predisposes their society to chronic failure?
An important feature of “democracy” that these activists seem to deliberately leave out of their rhetoric is that, in a democracy, the quality of leaders reflect the quality of the collective character of their constituents. In short, Filipino leaders were chosen. They do not rule because of a birthright or a mandate from heaven. They are products of the “people’s will” that these very “activists” wax poetry about ad infinitum.
But, see, it is one thing to lament problems of one’s own making. Democracy, after all, guarantees that every failure — and success — in leadership are ones directly influenced by the vote, ergo the “popular will”. It is, however, the height of national immaturity to fail to consistently attribute both good and bad outcomes to character. Rather than explore what character traits led to a certain outcome, Filipinos are taught that external forces are at work to thwart success — like “tyrants”, angry gods, “injustices” caused by “Satan”, and, yes, those “greedy capitalists”.
If we look today at what underpins the latest fad activism surrounding the 21st September Martial Law anniversary, it is all about Filipinos being “fed up” with a certain prevailing order of things that leads to their being “victimised”. Look deeper into the rhetoric about it and you will be hard-pressed to find anything to do with what one could do at a personal level to improves one’s individual chances of overcoming the social ills that these activists have sloganised.
The success of a rally may be measured by volume of turnout, of course. The question is, does volume necessarily translate to quality or substance?
After that next big rally, and then the next one, and then the one after that, Filipinos should ask: And then what? More importantly, they should ask the same question next time they see the next “activist” slogan shoved into their social media timelines.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.