Wednesday, April 07, 2004

A Lot On My Mind

There's really a lot of things I want to write. But of course, sometimes, shame and guilt overwhelm me. For example, there's the entire thing about the upcoming elections. But what stops me from writing is "who am I to talk about voting when I didn't even register myself". Sure, no one won't really know that I didn't register or that I won't vote this year, but that defeats the point of me ranting, doesn't it? I mean if I make an argument and I lie about a particular thing just to prove my argument, what's the point? The objective of debate is to prove one's point, and untruth just throws the entire argument out of the window.

But I'm Arrogant, So Here It Is Anyway

I'm guilty of this so I might as well stress it. Register! Not registering renders you impotent. Sure, while the impotent (like me) can talk about potent things (i.e. elections), it gives you more credence if you're actually potent. I mean if there are two people, a poor person and a rich person, and you ask them what they would do with, say, P1,000,000.00, you'd listen more to the rich person, because he actually has the one million to spend and it's a serious question for him. Poor guy could probably philosophize about it, but he could also mention any whim of his, because it isn't a serious possibility for him, so why bother dwelling on something you don't have anyway?

My second point is that we really can't criticize people for who they choose. I mean I could ask people what their favorite food is. Someone might mention chocolate. Another ice cream. A girl might say sushi. Or pasta. Or (blech!) ampalaya. It's really a subjective question and you can't expect everyone to arrive at the same conclusion. Just because they didn't choose the person you're voting for doesn't mean they didn't think about it, or that it took less effort. They arrived at it using their best judgement, and in the end, that's all we have (unless, of course, we either have psychic powers or a time machine).

Of course while I'm saying we can't criticize people for their choices, that doesn't mean we can't criticize their criteria. Criteria is something we can all comprehend and the right or wrong criteria is something we can objectify. For example, if we're judging a pie contest, the flavor of a pie is obviously a qualified criteria. The beauty of the contestant, while it is tempting to some judges, is not really a criteria, because what we're judging is the pie and not the contestant (but if this were a beauty contest, it would obviously be an important criteria). The same goes for choosing our public officials. And this is probably where the country gets messed up.

Some people vote this or that public official because they expect they can get something in return or a favor if this official gets elected. While in the short run this might be beneficial to you, in the long run it damages the country. Because favors like those stop making the country a meritocracy. Sure, people might defend that "it's 'utang ng loob' (returning a favor) or that he/she is part of family so we must support him/her", that's not really a good factor for electing our officials. We might benefit from it but what happens to the rest of the country? And 'utang ng loob', in a sense, should be balanced with an equitable action. For example, if I loan you a certain amount of money, returning the favor could possibly mean loaning me money when I need it at a future date, not necessarily voting me as president. Voting concerns the whole country and not just individuals alone. When making these kind of decisions, we must look beyond our petty selves and decide what's best for others as well as ours.

And while I don't really support many of the actor-turned-officials, we really shouldn't base our decisions on one factor alone. Saying "I won't vote for FPJ because he's an actor" is wrong. Just because your profession is an actor does not automatically entail that'll make you a bad public official (or a good one at that if this and that is your profession). A lot of other factors should be looked into. And in a way, not being transparent on the part of candidates is detrimental to arriving at that kind of decision. It becomes the public's right to know what kind of person you are and what your stance is on issues, because you're going to be our leaders for the next few years. Your actions don't affect just yourselves, it affects us and a lot of Filipinos as well.

One of my pet peeves is also people siding with other people just because they share the same profession/alma matter/organization. While that isn't necessarily a bad thing, it sometimes becomes either self-centered (if someone in my profession can become president, then I too can become president someday or he'll help me because he can relate with me) or choosing a lesser of two evils (whoever our president may be, he's going to be corrupt anyway so I might as well be his friend and benefit from his plundering since everyone's going to get plundered anyway). Actually the ones with the latter view scare me more, because they've lost hope and think that nothing will change in society. When it actually can. And the Philippines can still stoop lower than it already is. Things won't get better just by giving up.

I also don't like the "vote-to-win" mentality. It's when people say "I want to vote for candidate A but he/she won't win anyway, so I'll just vote candidate B". As my political science teacher said, voting on candidate A anyway lets the candidate know how he/she's faring in popularity and how much he/she needs to improve for the next election. And besides, who knows, the underdog might win.

Lastly, while voting and electing our leaders is important, our government can't be our messiah. We can't always blame and depend on them for our salvation. It starts with us. We determine our fate. We might not always be able to help ourselves, but that doesn't mean we should stop trying. Or hoping that someone else will do it for us.


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