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Change is a sacred word

By: Raymund Fernandez April 16,2016 - 09:53 PM

Kinutil

Perfect is not what things are. But they are not even half as bad as how things were in 1986 when we gathered in the streets to put a final end to Marcos’ martial law.

It is not common knowledge how Cebu played an important role in that event. It was here at the local Carmelite monastery where we kept Cory Aquino safe even as people started gathering in EDSA. However way we could, we kept in close touch with what was going on there. A group of Cebuanos even rode the boat to Manila to join in the peaceful people-power revolt.

In Cebu, we gathered at Fuente Osmeña daring Marcos’ Armed Forces to break up the gathering. And even as this transpired, we called other family members and friends to join in even though we knew we were taking a big risk doing this. Marcos had by then a long reputation of ruthlessness. Many who opposed his rule were sent to jail, some raped, tortured, killed, or otherwise caused to disappear. The economy was going down the dumps, and we knew it was because Marcos and his cronies were robbing the country blind. But after Ninoy Aquino was assassinated, we felt we had had it with Marcos. The time had come for us to make a final stand against him.

From the beginning, we knew we were doing this on the fundamental principle of peaceful change. We knew we were risking getting hurt or getting shot. We were rebels. But peaceful ones! We were scared, of course; but for many of us, the decision was to risk martyrdom in one heroic peaceful act. We knew this was the only way for change.

This is why “change” is a sacred word for us.

It comes as a pair with another sacred word — peaceful. We come from an old tradition. The tradition of Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and so many others, for whom the most meaningful change came as a result of peaceful engagement with the enemies of the people. The enemies of the people would from time to time react with violence. But in the face of this violence we resolved to keep our peace. It might take a while but eventually we would win. Love trumps hate. Peace always trumps violence.

But even so, when the Marcoses left the country thus preventing a bloodbath, we all breathed a sigh of relief, said prayers of thanks, and went off believing our God had saved us from possible death.

Thus, when we hear the line, “Change is coming,” we are not inclined to relate this line with death squads, the murder of poor children, no matter that they are criminals. We are not inclined to relate the line with the murderous musings of the stupid. The thought that the word “change” could ever be related to these things produces a dissonance inside us. We know it would leave a bad taste in our mouths if we ever intonated it that way.

When we hear, “Change is coming,” inside the context of death squads, fear, violence, and our alleged lack of discipline, we think immediately: Marcos and martial law. That was exactly how he justified it. And then we know it is not good change we are hearing about. It is change for the worse. It is a step backward in history.

And we know we will have nothing to do with that sort of change. We know we are not a people lacking discipline. Such thinking derives only from a fundamental lack of self-esteem, a faulty collective self-imagination. We are not perfect. But we are a good people with a long history of peaceful change. We know the power of those words which are sacred to us. We know this is the only way we can become better.

And we have no space inside us for fear which leads to murder. And this is why we are not afraid. We got rid of Marcos and Estrada. We can get rid of any bad president that will ever come our way: But always through peaceful change. And yes, perhaps if we move now, it may never have to come to that.

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TAGS: Cory Aquino, EDSA

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