Friday, February 04, 2011

Twiddling Thumbs: On Egypt

.:Twiddling Thumbs:.

There is no question that the situation happening in Egypt right now is of great interest, certainly more than the matter of the infamous plea bargain by General Garcia.

Nonetheless, beyond the platitudes of my supporting the cause of Egypt and hoping that they will meet success in their attempt to have their voices, heard, I can’t help but feel guilty that I couldn’t do more...

I think one of the things that made me so proud and then embarrassed to be a Filipino came in 2009, during the onset and the aftermath of Ondoy. Ondoy galvanized people to come together and stand strong in the face of calamity, and it certainly felt like this was a reminder to the world at large that the Filipino people is a nation of heroes. It felt like a defining moment of sorts, until we realized what many people suspected: the only reason we were galvanized into action was because it happened to us.

The minute similar typhoons affected people outside of the purview of the average Manilenyo, it was as good as a non-event. We didn’t care anymore about the typhoons that beset Northern Luzon, Baguio in particular, nor did we care about any other tragedies that happen on a regular basis in far-flung Mindanao, except for the most glaring one: the Maguindanao Massacre. Anything else was a case of out of sight, out of mind, and we just really couldn’t be bothered with it.

I am not writing here in an attempt to make a clean breast out of this glaring apathy we, myself included, apparently have for any grave situation that is simply out of our line of sight. I’m not going to come around and say that the people who sign online petitions are little more than “slactivists” and only really do that just so they could fool themselves into believing they are making a difference. I can’t speak for anyone but myself on this count, and quite honestly, while I do feel some measure of concern for what is going on in Egypt, I feel that I would be a liar if I said it was on top of my priorities. It clearly isn’t, as petty as that sounds. And saying “neither is it anyone else’s top priority” doesn’t make it any better, either.

In the end, what I’m trying to get across is that after everything has been said and done, I could only offer empathy and perhaps prayers for Egypt, but a big part of chides myself because I realize that falls prey to being merely a slacktivist. This is one time where I can’t honestly say that I have made a clear, tangible effort to alleviate a situation I supposedly support, and it shames me. But stopping there, reminding myself how lacking I am in concrete action, is inherently dangerous, as it shifts the focus from what is going on in Egypt to myself, which certainly isn’t my intention in writing this.

I’m writing this because in my limited capacity, in my inability to do much more than twiddle my thumbs for Egypt, I want them to know that I hear them. And though I may be powerless to do anything grandiose for them at this point, I believe that in echoing their sentiments, their voices would be heard by the people who are in a prime position to truly make a difference.

I don’t like the condescending tone thrown towards slacktivism because most people who do it are self-aware enough to know that they shouldn’t stop there. Throwing around that label only promotes division and resentment and even more apathy in the end, so I won’t throw my hat into that at all. Nonetheless, I believe Mother Teresa when she says that every effort, no matter how small, is a single drop in the ocean, but the ocean, no matter how vast, could never be complete if it is missing that single drop.

So this is my drop in the ocean. This is my show of support for Egypt, and if I would ever find myself an opportunity to do more than just offer them words of encouragement, I would gladly take that opportunity.

No comments: