From my column Brownian Motion in The LaSallian’s December 2008 issue.
It has been quite a year for the world: from scandal after scandal exposing officials for their corruption, a global economic crisis, to the recent terrorist attack at Mumbai—we can only hope for the best in 2009.
In the midst of the extravaganzas, scandals and successes, it was America’s choice of Barack Obama as their 44th President that really made me feel like there was still hope for a new beginning. Political bias aside, it was what came with his victory that really got my attention. One of these was the increase of votes from the youth and the willingness of people to wait long hours to cast their vote. More people participated in voting for the first time, making this election not only a victory for the first African-American president but also a victory for the election process.
With 2009 only a few weeks away, it makes me wonder if it will be the year that more of the youth will find themselves with the greater responsibility to prepare and ensure a more honest, efficient, and well-participated election in 2010. One could say that it may be too early but one should also consider that in the midst of the scandals and problems that our country faces, it is important that we stand out and voice out our desire for this kind of election.
Looking back at the recent US election, the participation of the youth is something we should definitely learn from. Instead of copying the superficial aspects of American culture (i.e. their accents, musical genres, fashion styles, and white skin), let’s try learning from a more relatable event in their history: their active participation in the last election. Of course, having our next president proudly proclaim that his/her win is “our victory” will not happen overnight. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s focus on the attitudes we can acquire in order to slowly get there.
As president-elect Barack Obama said in his victory speech, his victory was one that “drew strength from the young people who reject the myth of their generation’s apathy.” Unfortunately, we find ourselves in apathy that is very much a reality. We do not need to look far for the Lasallian community has shown instances of this reality.
In a conversation with friends about the USG ratification, I expressed my disappointment with the SC for not doing enough to encourage more to vote. However, a friend pointed out that the lack of a significant number of votes (barely half of the student population) showed most Lasallians don’t really care enough to make the extra effort to vote. We can even see worse combination of lack of care and common sense with how people throw paper, plastic, etc. in the newly installed PET bottle trash cans. It wouldn’t hurt for one to take a few seconds to figure out the proper place for your trash.
Once we lack care, we start ignoring the necessary attitudes which can lead to individual and social progression. Many students feel that the country is not worth caring about anymore because our culture is damaged by the negative practices and beliefs that have survived throughout history. Yet apathy doesn’t even suggest an alternative solution. Apathy in itself is negative, and will only make matters worse. By not caring, we make ourselves more vulnerable to the injustices that continue to be practiced by the more influential.
Not wanting to care also stems from our notion of being tired of the endless politics which plague our nation. Such a sentiment has been expressed by certain members of political parties in La Salle. However, what right do we have to say we are tired? Most of us are only focused on passing subjects, making it to the Dean’s list, and managing a decent social life. However, have we considered doing more? Being tired of the negative things that happen only happens because we are overwhelmed from feeling bad about these things. It never really stems from placing a part of ourselves into changing these things.
Next year should be seen as our preparation for our next new beginning. Once we are able to get over our apathy and start caring about university issues, we will be ready to take on the bigger problems which face the nation. As people part of the next working generation, we should realize that our future is in the hands of the next elections. Whether or not you plan on leaving this country, whatever happens in the next two years will affect your future. Considering that the Charter Change is another issue directly related to the next election, it is the responsibility of student leaders to make the Lasallian community well-informed of the issues at hand. Hopefully in the next month, a stand will be made to guide the students or a formal discussion will be organized—most especially with the recent news of a resolution proposing to extend the terms of elected officials until 2011.
However, such a responsibility does not just lie upon our leaders. Their work cannot be done if they are the only ones who exert effort in caring about the issues at hand. We can keep on blaming our government for corruption and our student leaders for never doing enough. Yet when did we ever stop to think how much we’ve ever done and how much it’s worth?