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Dealing in action

I’m a hypocrite. Which is just a totally awesome thing for the Editor in Chief of Heraldo Filipino to be. I always pride myself on leading by example, yet here I am writing my column weeks after the deadline I gave to everyone else. Now to be honest, I’ve got a pretty valid reason for my case of chronic procrastination (FYI, this is what sarcasm in print looks like): a quasi-existential crisis that arose from wondering about the meaning of life, worrying about the world, and cursing at my uselessness in it all.

But a little wisdom from a fortune cookie snapped me out of my pity party and back to reality. As the saying of an ancient wise man goes, “Yesterday, I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today, I am wise, so I am changing myself.” Yet, it wasn’t really the quote I was hung up on, but the grammar (in typical EIC fashion) that the genius wise man used: “I wanted to change” versus “I am changing.” A wish versus a deed, an idea versus an action. Such a clever clue imprinted by the universe saying that if you want something to be done, there will come a time when you’ve got to stop thinking and start actually doing.

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To point out the obvious, we’ve got a pretty passive student body that borders on downright apathetic at times. That’s not to say that our campus is inane—simply, indifferent. And this indifference traps us in a cycle that rejects massive change—even for the better—with its annual plague of trapo-style student politics, by-the-book standardized teaching, and a general culture that leaves diversity at the door. We go about complaining about the system for breaking our spirit but we do little more beyond just complaining. So we scheme to change things behind closed doors, talking about how we’d make things better but not actually doing as we’re saying. Words and ideas are gold, but without the action and drive to back them up, they stay as they are—intangible concepts that won’t go anywhere or do anything if we don’t do something about it.

The thing is, our school is home to hundreds with innovative ideas and tons of potential, yet very few venture to bring those ideas to reality, hesitant to try when there are already those with flowery words and glowing charisma but poor ideas and little action stealing all the air in the room. While some might be good with words, only a few have great ideas, and even fewer carry it through with tangible, legitimate action. And although they say that the best leaders back up their words with action, they should have good ideas and endless drive for action in the first place.

Maybe we’re hesitant to go beyond merely ideas with the fear of feeling crushing disappointment when the result doesn’t reach our expectations. Sometimes, we don’t carry out our ideas with actions, with the anxiousness of breaking the rules and shaking up the system. But usually, if the idea threatens to rock the boat, then it might just be worth it—especially if the system now is no longer working.

As crucial as ideas are, they end up useless if they’re not carried out until the end. As legendary capitalist Georges Doriot once said, “Without action, the world would still be an idea.”

Student elections are just around the corner and this year might be the most eventful one yet. For me, I’ll be looking for student leaders who—quite bluntly—can get shit done. Perhaps I’m getting old and the adage of practicality is getting to me—but it makes sense that if we start with hopes, words, and dreams, we must end with actions, triumphs, or even mistakes.

This entire column might be laughable coming from a writer who deals mostly in ideas and rarely in action, but that’s a part (and a curse) of the profession—to be tasked with starting the idea, and hoping that those reading this are willing to take on the responsibility to complete the action, with the anticipation that someone else might be inspired by such actions until the cycle of change and action begins once again.

So backtracking to that saying from the old wise man, while worries of the world might ignite genius ideas, ideas won’t become reality if we don’t take the action to change the first thing within our reach that could leave an impact—ourselves.

Everything starts with a good idea, but the best ends in action done here and now.

Focus on the verb, the action word—not the adjectives around it.

Be. Do.

Start.