I hated news—at least before—especially politics. Politics is a hassle; it’s complicated, corrupt, messy, and requires too much research to even understand what people are talking about. Politics and news were so appalling to me, and this was even coming from a Broadcast Journalism student. However, the tables have turned and I’m now swallowing my words as I learned to embrace journalism. But as I recall, I can’t blame my old self from shying away from political news, because not only does it get complicated and not “interesting” enough for millennials, for a relevant matter that demands accord, it causes division more than unification.
Take it from the HERALDO FILIPINO or any other media outfit—there is always a pattern of rage and partition in the Facebook comments section when politics hits the headlines (except the topic of casting Liza Soberano as a Filipino native—you get what I mean). With this reality, even as I air my own political opinion on social media, I need to carefully construct my words beforehand so as to not trigger an argument in the comments section—and sometimes, I suppress my opinion altogether. Truthfully, I was more scared of being disliked and going into a circus-like argument than having to say anything on an issue at all—and I believe this reality throws cold water not only on me but on everyone who currently thinks the same way.
To shy away from heated arguments and political division is to shy away from democracy.
These stumbling blocks are some of the reasons why people end up uninterested toward politics. In the context of a democratic country such as the United States, where the people there also deal with their fair share of heated online debate, Abby Douglass of The Odyssey Online shared that citizens have a responsibility to be involved in the government ruling over its citizens. She further shared that people across the world would do anything to have the freedom to tell their opinion of their government and have the power to influence change, yet this blessing continues to be taken for granted, even in the Philippines.
Democracy is a political system where people are deemed sovereign and citizens are given the responsibility of to be informed, to become watchdogs, and to become a mouthpiece of opinion on matters of public interest.
Veteran Journalist Melinda Quintos-De Jesus precisely connects the dots between political divide and democracy when she associated what she called “political factionalism” as the cause of animosity and hostility among people, which prevents any kind of exchange. “Without that exchange, democracy does not work, walang demokrasya kung hindi kayo makakapag usap-usap because democracy is conversation,” she said.
Having a voice on politics may earn us a few comment section rivals, but disputes are a part of freedom of expression, or to say more precisely, freedom in general.
Thus, to shy away from heated arguments and political division is to shy away from democracy. There is power in words and this power is often taken for granted. This is the reason why silence only benefits the oppressors. Silence doesn’t only make us safe—it makes us careless. This column is not an invitation to argue with trolls, but an invitation to challenge ourselves to have the drive for a deeper understanding on the government, and eventually form our own intellectual and conscious opinion on diverse issues.
I may not be any political virtuoso, but it takes no expert to know that deception happens amid negligence. Particularly, political apathy and the disinterest to research and dig deep on the details of all-things-politics is a tool that politicians use against people which manipulates us in the long run through corruption and the distortion of truth.
Before we know it, justice flashes before our very eyes—and we have let it happen.
The more we understand what’s at stake in the involvement and awareness in political affairs, the more we realize how involvement is more about the future than our present, and ultimately, it’s more about our children than ourselves.
Having an opinion on politics is not simply having something to say, but also saying something that can spark ideas from healthy arguments amid political divide. From Albert Einstein’s words, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”
Action is born out of having an opinion. Words ignite change, even those coming from students. So go ahead, take a stand. Political indifference may be the easy choice, but nothing great ever comes from something easy.