by Lea Sicat Reyes

In the past few weeks, we have witnessed our own version of the Clash of Titans. A palpable shift in moral ideology has caused a polarizing rift: you are either pro or against. Social media conversation is dominated by shocking ad hominems. Have a differing opinion? You automatically get labelled with a particular “tard” depending on whose side you have picked. Had we have any restraint to set aside our differences, we will realize that this is a lose-lose situation. Maybe it is time to go back to one of the most often used nuggets of wisdom, that is, “United we stand. Divided we fall.”

But this too gets lost in translation. Too often, otherwise decent people end up flaunting their prejudices. Those who cling to basic values such as respect and restraint are dismissed as too soft. Many of us believe the demagoguery that surrounds us, falling for perverted truths hook, line, and sinker. It is as if critical thinking is non-existent or is carelessly dismissed as elitist and out-of-touch.

What is more appalling is that the divide is fuelled by our nation’s powers that be. While most leaders have called for our President to be careful with his words, his spokesperson just came out this week and released a statement so utterly illogical. Allow me to paraphrase. “Understand his language with a creative mind.” It reminds me of Obama’s farcical anger translator, a punchline of sorts since the US President is known to have an unbreakable calm temperament. Only this time, it is the other way around. Only this time, it is not funny.

I have given up on news as well. Tune in and you get the 4 Ds: Duterte, Delima, Drugs, Death. Day in, day out, it’s all that you hear, it’s all that you see. I would rather watch funny cat videos on YouTube than be at the receiving end of such debilitating exchange of insults and accusations. The bigger tragedy, however, lies in the creeping desensitization to death. Ducttaped bodies litter streets. Emboldened assassins take lives in broad daylight. Innocent children are caught in the crossfire. How did it ever come to this?

Maybe it is time to ask ourselves: Are we willing to pay this price for progress? Can we honestly move forward by abandoning a traditional ally and replacing it with sketchy bedfellows? Do we adopt the biases of the people we have placed in power and blindly embrace their ideology as if it were our own? Are we willing to set aside due process to attain expedited action sans checks and balances?

In the midst of such unrest, we are left with these nagging questions. My hope is that we get to come together and, as one people, forge a path toward lasting progress bound my common values such as respect and tolerance. I know. Such a statement reeks with naiveté but I refuse to give up on the strength and resilience of the Filipino spirit. Let us set aside our differences and work on a more common ground. Because truly, for us to move forward, it will take all of us.

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