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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Difficulties of Democracy

Democracy is the chaos of many voices and the order of our collective vision. In a democracy, its always a number game--- a politician needs a majority (or the most number of votes) to be elected. A politician needs more than himself to transform a bill into law--- he needs support from his constituents, his staff, from people affected by the changes he is proposing and the alliance of his fellow politicians who will vote for that bill to be law. It is poignant, to think that sometimes, our idealism must take a backseat to the practicalities of the number's game. Yet at the end of the day, people living in a democracy triumph because of their shared vision of the future.

The Philippines is a democracy and some say, its divisiveness so extreme, we are two nations agreeing to disagree all the time. Every Filipino has his own view of what should happen to this country. Such is the gift of democracy.


Some say that we should have socialized housing, socialized health care, socialized education because these are a government's responsibilities. Those are their views, an ideology if you will. In their mind's eye, government should take an active role into the lives and dreams of every Filipino. Perhaps they are driven by compassion because so many of our people are without hope of opportunity. Perhaps it is instinctive, driven by our culture.


There are those who prefer a less active role of government. They envision power to the local government that this be a nation not divided by our differences but forged together in spite of it. They envision a self-sustaining system of government, one driven by the practicalities of today. We envision a nation and culture that rewards work.


These views and many others are gifts of democracy. At the end of the day, the Filipino's shared vision of future is prosperity for all.


And now the nation faces a crossroad. It is time for it, like many before have done to take the game to a whole new level. It is time to take this freedom, this hunger for a better life to the next chapter. As the Filipino does this, let this not mean to unshackle himself from the pain and success of EDSA, instead to take it, to accept it as our history for only then can we move forward towards the future.


President Macapagal-Arroyo's state of the nation yesterday (25th July 2005) is setting the country towards a path of change. It is not perfect. But this is exactly what should be done. We need to talk about it.


Some may say, it is always a dream, the state of the nation is. Perhaps it is. Perhaps we have transformed into a nation of cynics by the failures of the promises of the past and the jadedness of our own world view. If we do not dream, how else do we strive for something better? How else can we reach deep within ourselves and overcome our limitations?


Surveys have long asked the people their views on charter change. They are always cautious because of who have proposed it--- the politicians. Yet when we look at it, there many who need to be convinced one way or another if indeed this is the right way.


There is no easy way to do it. But this should not stop the debate from happening because if it is not discussed, how can we say no at once? Perhaps this is the way we need to go as a people, to effect monumental change in the way we do business, in the way our society is structured. After all don't we agree that there must be some form of change? Perhaps this is it.


When we see people starving in the streets, when the government's own measure of the state of the economy tell us (when we read in between the lines) its vitality or not we know there is much work to be done. These are undeniable facts and they only mean, we need to work harder.


People have long been troubled by our state of the nation. We say the country is already in the dog's house. It is not a far fetched view, when one admits it. Nor is this just mere talk whenever groups of middle age people gather and remember better days. We have indeed seen better days and the country has long been left in the dust.


When a person falls, it is not a failure. It is only such when we chose to wallow in despair and refuse to pick ourselves up, only then it becomes tragedy. When a nation falls, no matter how many times, it must like a person, pick itself up because it is a tragedy when it doesn't do so. The Philippines is picking itself up.


The Philippines' divisiveness is a signal of its democracy's vitality. Yes, there are many structural flaws, and many ways to overcome them. But thats the beauty of a democracy, we get to air our own views, debate on them and come to a consensus. Its the civilized way of progressing as a people, even if the steps we take are baby steps, we'll get there slowly but surely. Nothing important or worthwhile is ever easy.

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