These last few months have been difficult for many Filipinos. (Perhaps fun, for some.) “Difficult,” however, is an understatement to anyone who has gone through the stress of keeping up with the national elections – filtering tirades against one’s intellect, convincing others to rethink their picks, and rolling one’s eyes at “mema” rants on social media, some burning bridges along the way.
We have been pinned down by the limited choices at our disposal, and swept up by our inclination to defend them, thinking to ourselves yet again that the only way to get through another term is to vote for the “lesser evil.” The 3rd Presidential Debates last 24 April 2016 is perhaps the culmination of a long process of elimination, resulting in a choice that reflects not only what we want in a society but the lens by which we view the world.
The stress caused by the elections is warranted; it indicates the differences in our values, beliefs, and desires, despite sharing a country and a dominant culture. Indeed, the acts of discerning and voting are not limited to our own selves; they are also acts of the social. We make private choices thinking that these would be best for the public, often without realizing that we might be experiencing the world differently from other Filipinos, and that our choices might be reflecting our own realities, not theirs. Yet, once we make that choice, our personal decisions would impact an entire country, perhaps towards the greater good; perhaps towards the greater good only for some.
Many of us have engaged with people online or offline, on the same side of the fence or otherwise, to express our political views. Our participation in proclamation rallies and debates on social media or in real life gives us a sense of solidarity with like-minded people. Even talking casually to strangers about the candidates we are voting for or campaigning against reinforces that sense of collectivity. And perhaps these conversations can inform us that our individual lives are inextricably linked to others, whether we agree with them or not. If we set aside our belief in the rightness of our way of thinking, we might also learn from listening to those whose views are different.
As election day approaches, it might be good to exercise a bit of reflexivity: How do our choices reflect our biases and experiences? How would our decisions make sense to those who do not share in our realities and cultural contexts? How can our participation in the election process lead to a broader understanding of the needs and struggles of people who are not like us?
Featured image taken from this site.