Friday, February 22, 2008

“If not us then who? If not now then when?”

If not I, then who?
CTALK By Cito Beltran
Monday, January 28, 2008

UP or the University of the Philippines is often criticized for producing nothing but politicians and Godless activists. One group steals the peoples’ money or the peoples’ democracy while the other waste tax payers money by creating more chaos or fighting the police and the military in the hinterlands.
But from where I stand, UP has raised many but little appreciated individuals who have contributed not only in terms of professional expertise but even more in speaking out for an ideal or against a social or political injustice.
Every school, university or educational institution has raised their own share of “good citizens” but historically speaking, UP has trained more outspoken citizens or bold individuals who willingly risk personal comfort or professional persecution because their training makes it unacceptable to turn a blind eye or simply join the silent majority.
The average UP student cannot avoid being confronted by the questions: “Kung hindi tayo; sino? Kung hindi ngayon; kailan?”
“If not us then who? If not now then when?” I am told that those were the words of a courageous activist known as Voltaire Garcia. I have come to know many more men and women such as him during the many years I spent at UP.
Some of them were brave idealists who did not wait to graduate from the University. They took the message and spoke out. Others went to the streets and protested, while a few unnamed warriors took up arms and paid with their lives. The rest of us were just waiting for our time.
We were not all brave. We were not all idealistic. But in time and presented with the need and the opportunity just about everyone speak out or did something. It may be at PTAs, Barangay meetings, court rooms or board rooms or in front of the cameras. Because of our “outspoken nature, we are called Rebels and rebellious.
Hardly! I dare say. Plain and simple rebellion does not solicit respect from people who gained entry into an institution that accepts you because of your intellect, reasoning and not your parents’ wealth. Rebellion draws no crowds among an interdependent culture known for logic, excellence and organization.
We do not speak merely of our opinion as everyone seems to be obsessed in doing in today’s culture of “My” or “Bloggers anonymous@Gaggle. com”. No it is not about opinion but about conviction.
We speak out against social and political injustices we learned and understood from our probinsyano batch mates who lived lives in hardship and poverty. We learned the realities of life and politics from our teachers and professors who cared to mentor us while they gave up opportunities to teach in exclusive schools and earn enough money for a house, a car and a better social status.
The opinions we formed were created by living in a real community. Not just an academic community but one where government employees lived in temporary conditions until they were no longer part of the system and therefore no longer qualified to live in the university grounds. That is as real as it gets.
As real as living in an academic community invaded and assimilated with squatter colonies, infiltrated by rebel scholars as well as deep penetration agents and military Intelligence officers in training and subject to the egos, politics and sexual disposition of government officials and politicians.
We live it, we breathe it. It is the way we pay back all the real tax payers who partly paid for our education. It is the commitment we made when we became “Iskolars ng Bayan” that we would give back to UP and to the Philippines . Some of us manage to speak out and even fight the injustices. Some of us manage to give or achieve solutions that hurt or damage our society and some unfortunately excelled at damaging our society and continue to do so.
This is why we have become the worst critics of government and of politicians. We are not rebels we are merely the enemies of those who betrayed the nation and the people.
We are not Godless because if we were, why would we fight and risk life itself for such godly things as truth, justice, equality and freedom. Why would we despise the corrupt and the brutal who embrace evil with pride and arrogance? We are called Godless by those who have replaced the true God with compromise and commerce. We are condemned by those who speak from ignorance rather than intellect.
As a people we have either suffered in silence or lashed out in rage. Too many Filipinos willingly express opinion but not their conviction. They find satisfaction of their civic duty by expressing opinion rather than acting and speaking with conviction. Opinion is but an organized collection of thoughts and emotions. Opinion is relative to time or something for the moment.
Conviction involves wisdom, passion, commitment, and action not just for ourselves but for the greater or collective good. Speaking out is merely a consequence or as a result of our efforts and commitment to a cause, a standard or a way of life.
Often “Speaking out” is already “Action” in itself. By speaking out we oppose unacceptable doctrine or behavior. By speaking out we educate or warn others. By speaking out we teach others of a better way or thinking. Commitment requires action not just sound. Speaking out is not just for the moment. We do so when needed not when we feel like it.
So next time you decide to express yourself, ask yourself if its just another opinion, if it’s someone else’s opinion or your true conviction. Then you’ll understand the significance of the “Oblation” a man who can stand before men and God naked but unashamed.

source:http://www.philstar .com/archives. php?aid=20080127 111&type=2

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