A FRIEND of mine based in Cebu observed on Facebook yesterday how her city currently resembles a “giant swimming pool,” causing residents to rant against the government and demand improvements in the drainage system. While granting that, she added, “But also maybe DON’T LITTER?” She has a point.
As a child I was taught that littering was not only criminal but also harmful to the environment, so I have always thrown trash in bins where they belong. Unfortunately, there are too many folks who think “outside” is one great dumspter, and they feel free to throw their garbage anywhere as long as it is away from them.
My husband and I have seen many instances of such carelessness on the road, with the guilty ranging from pedestrians to tricycle drivers and passengers to the unseen payload of heavily tinted SUVs. Down rolls the window, out flies the trash onto the street and (eventually) into the drain, off goes the vehicle. We have yet to see MMDA constables stop anyone for littering. My husband has taken to berating those he catches, to my supreme nervousness. He often stops in traffic to tell off whoever the litterbug may be, whether truck driver or teenaged boy with earbuds. So far, they have all been too surprised to react violently, thank goodness. It scares me, but my husband has a point too, and I won’t stop him.
People don’t feel responsible for the trash they ditch. Why is that? They blithely throw away what they think are tiny bits of plastic and when the floods come, they rant and raise their fists at the government, demanding change. The current dispensation is lousy, they say self-righteously, but they hardly remember the small hill of trash they planted in the drainage system wrapper by little wrapper. That’s the kind of double standard infesting society, I’ve observed.
I am still trying to figure out what happened in the last few months, what social maelstrom catapulted a maverick mayor into the presidency, and why it happened. The buzzword was “change” and it was fiercely defended. The debate was reduced to very stark categories: if you are for Digong, you are pro-change, and if not then you are not. I contested that, but not very many were listening. I was misunderstood and heavily bashed for my views. But come now, if change means life gets better, then who wouldn’t want it? I certainly do, though I did not vote for The Punisher. I can’t stop asking, however, how many of the 16 million who voted for President Duterte are really willing to work for change? I imagine a large swathe of them is expecting him and his cabinet to do the dirty work for them and if they don’t succeed, well, I suspect fists and voices shall be raised in due time.
I criticize when warranted and give credit when it is due. Duterte’s actions since assuming office have been a relief, and it cheers me to see him acting rather presidential; I hope it continues. I’ve been listening to his speeches since the inauguration, and I notice that (besides lessening the talk of death and killing) he is constantly asking for people to help him. That’s vital. I believe he’s serious, and I understand his plea.
He can’t effect change on his own, regardless of how hell-bent he is on doing it. Even if Congress grants him emergency powers for two years, even if they extend that, he cannot solve the traffic problem without the people’s help. He cannot “suppress” (his new term; it used to be “stop”) criminality and win the war on drugs in the three to six months he b(rashly) promised, unless the drug users, their families, and their communities cooperate.
I will be blunt: if we really want change, let’s stop being hypocrites. If you say you hate graft, then don’t pay fixers to process your documents, don’t bribe that official to approve your contract, don’t agree to “oil the wheels” when you’re asked. If you hate traffic, then walk or commute more and use your vehicle only for greater distances. If you hate pollution, then care where you put that cigarette butt, that plastic bag, that candy wrapper. If you hate corruption, then report the incidents you witness instead of staying mum in fear. If we want change, let’s ditch our double standards and be the catalysts society needs.
I’m counting on the 16 million who put Duterte in Malacañang to be the sector that mobilizes this transformation. The rest of us who also want and need change, we will join you. Please don’t rest easy now that your man is the president. Let’s together set a new standard and see if we can’t make a difference in this beautiful, beleaguered country we all love.
But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.
– Matthew 5:37