Back

Half the fight

Things are only getting worse. Kian Loyd Delos Reyes, Carl Angelo Arnaiz, Reynaldo de Guzman—when you put names and faces to bodies and statistics, it becomes harder and harder to turn away from the extrajudicial killings that are wreaking havoc in society. Taken, shot, stabbed, killed—these victims were boys whose lives were cut too short.

Now, take a look at yourself and see if you’re doing something about it—and if you are, see if it’s enough.

Perhaps it’s my idealistic young mindset that’s got me riled up and urgent to do something more—more than writing, sharing, or liking stories criticizing EJK on Facebook. Because the truth of the matter is, writing is no longer enough. That might sound ironic coming from a member of an organization that deals primarily in writing, but it’s exactly because of that fact that I realize that writing is only half of the fight in this battle against blatant injustice.

I suppose that’s the curse of a journalist: always the narrator, never the protagonist—always the observer on the sidelines rather than the one fighting amidst the battle. However, I’ve begun to understand that we’re simply different forms of soldiers fighting for the same thing nonetheless. I’ll always stand by the idea that the pen is mightier than the sword, but that doesn’t mean the pen is the only weapon in our arsenal—especially in these times where every action of independent press is dubbed fake news. We all have our own ways of challenging President Duterte’s culture of killing, and we all have our own roles to play—but only if we have the courage to step into them.

You can’t will this war away with words

You can’t doubt that people are restless—that they too want to stop the death count of the war on drugs from getting any higher. The flood of social justice warriors and self-proclaimed “woke” folks is a testament of that. At face value, woke might seem like a badge of honor for those riding the socio-politically aware bandwagon, and social justice warriors might just be stuck tweeting their advocacies with witty verbose wordplay, but these instances only signify the tip of the iceberg of just how much the youth want to fight. They’re watching this war play out, including the “collateral damage” in the conflict—and they’re mad. But for the youth stuck sharing news links and tweeting their commentary, this is only a fraction of the fight. Hopes and wishes can only go so far, and our words are only as good as our actions.

For the most part, the fight has already begun. But more could be done if we realize that leaders should be fighters too. As Lasallians, we’re educated—but eventually, we have to put that education to the test. Speaking up and standing for what’s right is something our students need do more of, but that’s only half of what they should be doing. No, I’m not saying you need to join a protest at EDSA or sign up to a radical organization—I’m saying that we need to do better than pursuing concerts, awards, medals, and certificates. After all, the best leaders teach us that it’s better to fight for something than live for nothing—and right now, the fate of Filipinos everywhere is everything.

***

A couple of years ago, I would have said that one of our nation’s problems was youth apathy. But now, the tides have changed. It’s not so much a fight against inaction but not enough action. Our words, viral tweets, and this column are only the first step in acknowledging the crisis of extrajudicial killings and challenging those responsible for it in the first place. The next is to acknowledge that it’s still not enough and translate that concern into action. We all have a role to play—the media, the government, and the youth. It’s just a matter of deciding if we’re willing to do more than talk about what we need to do.

Words are the embers, the spark that sets off the change. But the rest is up to the people, public office, and policy. While the pen is mightier than the sword, you can’t will this war away with words. Eventually—and not in the corrupt sense—we have to get our hands dirty to get things done. Now, the question is, who’ll lead the way?