IT’S THE SMALL THINGS
Last Monday was President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA). Though very different from the norm given the current situation, it forced me to ponder not only about the current situation in the Philippines, but also about the state the world is in today. In light of the current global pandemic, a lot of us have found ourselves contemplating more than usual. It is what uncertainty brings about, but more over, with a lot more time on our hands than usual during the months of lockdown, we were thrown into a “new normal” that none of us were prepared for. It was almost as if we went to sleep in the world we knew one night, and woke up in a whole new one the next morning.
A few weeks ago, I chanced upon a video on Instagram that placed so much into perspective for me. It had a narrative that painted the generations before us – that of my grandparents in my case – as resilient, having lived through both the first and second world wars, among many other global events and crises. It was then that it hit me. My generation, and those younger than me have definitely had it so good. So much so that milennials tend to be stereotyped with the reputation of being entitled. Perhaps, we youngsters are in need of an experience so great and humbling to shine light on what truly matters. And I am certain, this COVID-19 pandemic is it.
So many times, it has been said that this may just be the third world war of our time. It is a war in many respects, but with an invisible enemy. One without physical violence, but with structures that perpetuate misinformation and a landscape where fake news thrives. This has created a toxic environment that continuously divides the population – not only physically because of social distancing and the norms imposed to stop the spread of the disease, but also in mindset, political views, and action. While to some extent we have all felt our helplessness at one point or another in the midst of this pandemic, we are also at some point guilty of being a purveyor of negativity. Just by trying our best to keep a positive mindset, and reinforce the light, albeit dim, that is capable of shining through, we are already creating betterment for our community. It is a time when we must all focus on being united and building bridges to fight a common enemy. This is the time to breakdown invisible walls in trying to spread hope in a time of crisis.
In reality, I do believe that as a whole, we as a world have the resources and the leadership structure to respond efficiently and adequately. It is some of the poor choices and distractions that have caused the paralysis of humanity’s faith in more ways than one, to say the least. It can also perhaps be attributed to a lack of collective willpower to work towards what we know and think is right and to impose more structure and self-discipline in our daily lives. People can have the tendency to grow complacent quickly when results are not achieved overnight. To an extent, our views have become so myopic that we tend to lack the magnanimity and accountability as a whole to do what is just. At a time of crisis, as good citizens of this world, we must concert our efforts so that compassion controls and not selfishness. No matter where in the world we are today, we are threading through somewhat of a similar path.
I will close this by saying that in retrospect, it is not just this pandemic – so great an equalizer, that it too has divided us – that is the problem. This has been an ongoing crisis of leadership, poor human outlook and behavior that has been compounded through the years. There has been a severe lack of empathy for the most vulnerable among us that has sadly increasingly grown through the years. Take climate change, for example. It is definitely ongoing and we are aware of it, yet our everyday actions may not always contribute to the betterment of addressing the issue as a whole. In fact, our daily lives in the recent past probably increased carbon footprint to a level that has depleted so much of our natural resources.
May this be the great awakening we as a human race need to check in on how we live life, and how best to live it. So that years from now, when our grand children and great grand children look back on the lives we lived, they too can thank us, for leaving them with a beautiful planet and a wonderful world. Only then, can we wear the badge of resilience and honor.