Placards and Speeches

It’s a common scene these days: demonstrators with placards and speeches and a color scheme, marching along the highway. It’s a noble display of political will, until a friend told me an ironic reality within the people who make it.

My friend told me of watching a news scene of a reporter covering a group marching to Mendiola. The inquisitive reporter didn’t go to the rally organizers; instead, he went to the people, the common tao, who composed the rally, to ask why they were there and what they were fighting for. The interview of the reporter to the first person went like this:

Reporter: Excuse me, sir, why are you marching to Mendiola today?

Man: Because the President’s corrupt and everyone in the government is too!

Reporter: Can I ask why do you say so?

Man: (silent)

… because they’re corrupt!

The second interview went like this:

Reporter: (Approaching a man holding a placard) Excuse me sir, can I ask why you’re here today?

Man: Oh, someone asked me to go and hold this thing (the placard) for them and instructed me to follow them on the march. If I do that, they’ll give me some food when this is over.

My friend and I had a good laugh over this. I laughed, not because I found it funny, but because of the fact that I found it unbelievably perplexing, considering  seeing firsthand the passion at which people attended to these things. Was that display of unity just a mask to cover a face of ignorance?

It is a dangerous mistake for an army to forget the reason for why they fight. It has been proven by history that an army without a cause tends to be an army without a destiny. Take the case of the Battle of Guagamela, between the forces of Alexander of Macedon and Darius the Third of Persia in 331 BC. Alexander’s forces were men trained with a common direction: defeat the enemy. Darius’ forces were slaves who could have cared less about fighting for their master. Predictably, Alexander’s outnumbered army managed to break through the Persian lines and route Darius’ forces, bringing about the Achaemenid Empire’s fall.

On the flip side, is it better to be apathetic instead? Many times I am guilty of shutting everything out of my system. The Maguindanao massacre does not concern me in any way. I lost not my father or my mother or my brothers. I lost not money nor property. I lost not my life. I was wrong. I have lost brothers, sisters, fellow human beings. I realized that these things concern me too, as I, too, am a part of humanity.

Then there’s the story of us observers who enjoy seeing rallies but are either busy or just lazy to join them. I’m not a very big fan of joining rallies, but I can tell you that they are not in vain. Whenever I see a rally and hear how JPEPA’s a threat of brain drain, or how the ZTE caused mayhem in the electoral system, or how farmers tell the government to fix the implementation of the Agrarian Reform Program, I get this feeling of hope that someday, things will be better. I remember my teacher in high school telling us that we were little stones dropped into a big ocean, creating ripples that touch the shores of change. As I said before, the new breed of heroes comes not in a tie and a business suit, but in a simple shirt and denim jeans.

Apathy about the current state of the nation is one thing, blind action is another. The former is knowledge without action, the latter is action without knowledge. There is no lesser evil. While it’s good to just live and let our bodies create entropy, ignorance is never totally bliss. I have rose to the heights of ignorance heaven, and I have sunk to the depths of apathetic hell. It was never really satisfying. It’s here, on the Earth which we stand, that knowledge with action, and action with knowledge, really matters.

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  1. Sometimes apathy is a much easier solution. Everyday, as I pass by the DOJ & the SC, I feel like I’m only so small a human being that I can only do so little to change the status quo of our society.

    However, after Pahinungod, I realized that such change is actually possible. It may be it a small way such as volunteering but good deeds trickle down like water on limestone in a cave. Before you know it, you have breathtaking cave systems from just drop after drop after drop of water.

    Perhaps our society has grown indifferent to rallies. That may be true, as apathy is a dangerous thing. But even more hazardous is blind action.

    Maybe there is another solution that people don’t look into, as it may be caused more by blind action rather than principle. However, I think actually acting on something to change the status quo [instead of just taking out the issue to the streets] is a far better option. After all, actions do speak louder and more effectively than words, do they not?

    ‘La lang. Just thinking. Hi, Jian! ^_^

    • jian5

       /  December 19, 2009

      Hey Paula!

      Thanks for the very comprehensive reply! I’ve been thinking of a reply for your post for about a week now, but I don’t know what to say. So for now, thanks for being an instrument of change! We need more people like you here in the world.


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