I have made a resolution even way before that circus of a national elections last May.
I will not talk about politics. I refuse to discuss political issues (not that I have no opinion nor am I unaware of what is happening). I am not going to take all these friends and strangers who have become diehard zealots of partisan causes seriously. Otherwise I might as well talk to God and confess that I have trimmed down my Christmas list by a substantial 70% even before December. And, more important, I cannot stomach the thought that I people I know (or assumed) to be reasonable and intelligent have become online banshees or textbook nincompoops.
So I shall assume the stand often said and repeated but really hard to practice: "Less talk, less mistakes." Realizing the near impossibility of keeping my mouth shut (attested by a weeklong bout with pharyngitis that made me sound like Kim Carnes singing Bette Davis Eyes), I have learned to bite my lower lips or clenched fist, look away and count one to one hundred whenever I am compelled to express my opinion.
I have also come to the following conclusions and resolutions which I shall lovingly share with anyone out there who is also so sick and tired of blindsided political discussions all branded under the title Neo-Nationalists.
These conclusions, resolutions, observations and ruminations were never meant to be Bible truth, mind you. They serve as reasons why I have decided to shut up every time I have a compulsion to throw in my ten cents worth ... or better yet, execute a very graceful flying kick aimed right at the mouth of somebody who is fanatically yelping like a mad Pomeranian to show the world how much wiser he or she is about determining the fate of this nation.
(1) It is useless to argue with someone who has decided to hate any individual or party in a political landscape. If someone out there has decided that Yellow is not the color of liver ailment but the shade of his soul ... or that the vigilant mayor from Davao City can do no wrong, then leave him be. You do not engage someone like that into a verbal battle --- even on the level of argumentative volleyball. You cannot win? Why? Because he will never admit defeat. He can either slap your face silly with volumes of statistics about how his choice of loyalty is the only sane choice ... or he can wear you down with pedantic discussions ranging from the sacrifices of Ninoy ... all the way to the success of the Queen of All Media. Or he can talk about how great Davao City has become ... cleansed of criminal elements because of the iron fists of the Clint Eastwood Mayor or how he is the only hope for this country that has developed a new national sport called Riding in Tandem.
O siya, siya. Whenever you come across an AFP (not Armed Forces of the Philippines but Alagad ng Fanatikong Pilipino), you have three options. A) You simply shut up and sing your favorite song quietly in your mind thereby allowing peace to rule the planet. B) You challenge said Verbal Warrior into a Joust to the Finish that shall certainly have no end except in civility and possibly friendship or C) You walk away armed with an excuse like having something better to do --- which, on accounts, is really better to do.
Moral Lesson of the Story: If you cannot talk reason with someone, then chances are it is easier to have a conversation with a mouth frothing rabid dog than to use the laws of logic on a fanatic. Absolutely useless. Aksaya lang ng panahon.
When somebody decides to hate some body, then rest assured nothing that the object of hatred has done, is doing or capable of doing will earn credit in the eyes of a fanatic. There will always be something wrong and it is bound to be fatal, even apocalyptic.
There is no such thing as being fair or just for a diehard--- except the total annihilation of the political antagonist who now comes close to the description if not the very identity of the Anti-Christ.
Why? It is no longer the matter of principle that he is fighting for that will make him stand firm to the very end, refusing to budge or listen to arguments. It is simply his or her ego --- the whole pride bit that refuses to bend --- so much so that he mistakes his arrogance (and even megalomania) to being nationalistic.
For how can somebody truly believe in the beauty of democracy when his reply to an argument or analysis to an issue is an insulting tweet or a creatively malicious shoutout on Facebook? Grow up. Such a waste of your alleged college education.
(2) Everyone has an opinion: it is not a matter of being right or wrong but it is his right to have that opinion. So leave it be. An opinion is an opinion. It is a stand. Having no opinion is also a stand. It could be ignorant bliss or simply a refusal to indulge. There are those who will insist that having no opinion is really, really bad because that is being negligent if not flippant, uncaring, apathetic to the condition of the nation.
Ah talaga? Oh, really now?
For those diehard Neo-Nationalist who must sputter every rant and rave in the internet or any opportunity to stand on a soapbox and announce to the world what they think or feel ... let it be so. That is your right.
Hindi ba it is often said that democracy is the beautifully blended chorus of opinions and observations that produce the melody of freedom. Ang gandaaaa! But there is also that great risk that the sound of dissenting opinions, the thunder of argumentation and discussion can produce cacophony especially when everybody has forgotten the whole point of achieving harmony.
Recently Meryl Streep portrayed the world-renowned (for all the wrong reasons) soprano Florence Jenkins Foster. Her singing reminds me of the tsunami of discussions, the mudslinging and the name-calling that debases intelligent argumentation ... but still accepted as a norm for exchange of ideas.
So I told myself: spare me. I am not going to torture myself listening to all these opinions since two people talking at each other is so completely different from the same two persons talking with one another.
Nothing intelligent can come out of two people suffering from verbal diarrhea without listening to each other --- but even that is their right in a democratic space.
Kaya bahala na kayo sa buhay nyo, Dudes. It is your right to talk your heads off until your teeth fall out. And when you are truly ready for the showdown, paki-text na lang. We will provide you with two Pokemons of equal strength and power so that you can truly test how great you are in the next virtual gym.
(3) You do not take things personally when it comes to politics. After all, it is politics ... and just that: politics. How many relationships have been ruined by diverse or opposing political views? Oh, quite a number, I can assure you --- a very big number.
I will be the first to admit that I have lost ton loads of respect (even fondness) for certain people not because of their political positioning (which, as I said, is their right, their choice, their democratic privilege) but by the way they flaunt their opinions, shove their choices down your throat and make you feel like you are a notch beneath cretin if you do not agree with their preferences.
Please take note: no group --- partisan, political, religious or whatever has complete exclusive rights to correctness and righteousness. Everybody is entitled to his idea of what is good but there is such a thing as common good --- and that is what we all aspire for. So if you cannot see any other point of view aside from yours and insist that you are the only one on that sparkling path of correctness, I greatly suggest that you go see a doctor immediately. Yours is not nobility of spirit but merely the manifestations of a very bad childhood.
Uh, OK. I admire people's varied convictions but the fact that you do not give space for others to think in a manner diametrically opposite to the way that you do does not mean you are better, right? Definitely not smarter. Just more bigoted.
To bring the discussion to the level of the personal and to question the intelligence and sanity of anybody who is not in agreement with your choices do not really speak very well of you ... as well as your ilk. Somehow this sort of mob rule thinking discredits not only the fan turned fanatic --- but whoever or whatever it is that they want to promote or idolize.
The moment discussions reach the level of the personal, then something is wrong.
I have always felt that we can agree to disagree and still keep our friendship ... more so our civility. We can argue until the sun rises on our behinds but still stay focused on the subject matter or the issue and never diminish the level of discussion to our relationship as two intelligent human beings who have decided to disagree. In other words, any intelligent discussion requires humility or even that oh-so-difficult discernment in admitting when one is wrong and the other party is right. I also heard it is called maturity.
That is why since around March this year (when the election issues reached their greatest heights) that I have decided to unfollow more than a handful of my Facebook friends.
I have unfriended more than a dozen and blocked a very chosen few. Why? Because their mindless, fanatic chattering (whether congruent to what I believe in .. or in direct contradiction to my choices) is not the sort of thing I would like to find posted on my wall.
I did not join social media --- nor took active part in it --- to test the limits of my patience. Or see friends make fools of themselves with Mother Statements or lure endless bashing from available schools of thought.
Friendship or a cordial relationship is far more important than a discussion involving politics ... well, not unless the other party is a paid troll. This leads me to the next point.
(4) It is not about who speaks the loudest but who makes sense.
There is a theory that when something is repeated over and over again --- it becomes real. It may not be the truth but in the minds of many, it is real.
Keep saying the same thing relentlessly and people will believe ... then accept, regardless of how far-fetched and out of sync this may be from reality.
That is why in the crowded space of social media people literally shove and step on each other to get the mileage and space and patronage necessary to have clout. Nowadays it is not enough that you are there but your presence in all available platforms --- mainstream, alternative, new media --- these have all become necessities in order to assert not only presence but more so significance.
Some people have made a career promoting and/or destroying people, products and issues in the internet because that is a natural part of the evolution of information technology.
That is why there are professional trolls.
An article from a leading Philippine daily points out to this recent phenomenon (http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/236403/confessions-of-a-troll) and this very well explains the movements of opinions and shapers in creating the greatest sphere of influence. It is no longer a matter of what you want to say ... but how you say it and who speaks the loudest. Through this pandemonium of sound bytes and wannabe personalities that you can decipher some semblance of sense --- some glimpse of truth --- muddled by all the drumbeating and the desire to be noticed in order to be first heard.
All these lead me to the final conclusion.
(5) You don't have to join the dance club just to be able to dance.
That is why I choose to avoid political discussions. Again when asked why I have five good reasons: (a) Nakakasawa (b) Nakakapagod (c) Nakakairita (d) Nakakabobo and lastly (e) Nakakagulo.
Yes, we all have our opinions. We all have our prejudices as well. That's inevitable. Not good but inevitable. Because we are human ... and we have our imperfections which make us human.
But social media has changed all this together with mainstream media: biases, pre-conceived notions and the perpetuation of misguided opinions have made the search for truth all the more difficult with its various interpretations and misrepresentations.
What is important is to think --- and it is possible to think quietly. What is even more important is to have a stand --- and do something about it --- not merely talk, make shoutouts ... even blogs --- but to work on what you believe in.
Yes, it is #nopolitics for me as I intend to lead a peaceful, meaningful and constructive life --- not one warranting public attention (or opinion) for all the wrong reasons. After all, I can be a good, responsible, thinking and working citizen without messing my feet in cesspool of politics. I must simply choose to be aware of the issue --- think --- and work on what I do best to make even a dent in bringing a better tomorrow.
I do not need to run for public office or bang my drums too loudly just to be noticed. Or heard. I just have to do what I am supposed to do ... and that is to work. Work hard at what I do best and make sure that there is a better future for our kids and their kids. It is all right to discuss politics but that is not the be all and end all of calling yourself as a flag-waving, country-loving Pinoy. It is by fulfilling your role in society that you gain value of whatever magnitude or significance.
That is being a useful citizen of the Republic.