I’ve Given Up on Understanding Democracy

I really didn’t want to think about politics today. I have a pile of chocolates right next to me, I’m taking notes on what I need to do to find out what I want to do for the next half-decade or so, and I have plans to continue watching The Crown (I love that show).

But basically everyone I know has politics in the brain today. Part of it has to do with the decision of my country’s Supreme Court to allow a dictator to be buried in the Heroes’ Cemetery. The other part has to do with the US elections. Both have me questioning whether or not I misunderstood what Democracy is actually supposed to be.

The handful of people who AREN’T talking about these things are focused on bettering themselves. I want to pay attention to them instead, but my brain is a douchebag.

So now I’m writing this, around lunchtime, so I can forget about it and get back to my career development exercises.

From the Philippines, my bend of the globe

The subject of burying a known dictator as a hero is, at the very least, controversial.

Whether or not he was a benevolent dictator is always up for debate—it most certainly is at our family’s dinner table, where the positions range from neutral to moderately rabid. But I don’t think that’s what’s causing the problems here at all.

My issue with this whole thing is that they claim the proposal to bury this man as a hero is an attempt to unify our country.

Let that sink in. They think that a dictator, whose executive, legislative, and judiciary decisions led to the deaths and disappearances of a countless number of my countrymen, should be buried as a hero in order for everyone to bury the hatchet.

I have no words to describe how misguided and fucked up I think this thing is.

I don’t care what his intentions were. I don’t care if the dead and missing “deserved” what happened to them. That’s not the point.

The point is that his government allowed for atrocities upon his people. And no, a ceremony will NOT make things right, not for the people who had to suffer under him who, by the way, are still alive.

Christ, why think this would unite us? You just reminded people of how much they’ve been hurt and now we’re more divided than ever.

And I heard the guy didn’t even want to be buried there anyway; he wanted to be next to his mom. You assholes.

Meanwhile, America – fuck yeah

Whether or not my country is getting along with the US of A (and I could never tell; our President likes insulting them while most Filipinos freaking love America), we gotta concede that we have to care about it.

Despite the claims that its hold on international power has weakened over the last decade or so, it’s pretty dang obvious that it still holds significant international influence. Whoever leads it will definitely set the tone for how the country will interact with the rest of the world.

As I write this post, with only a Reese’s peanut butter cup in my mouth as comfort, the 20-year-old Cheeto that you found in the deep recesses of your living room couch that we all know as Donald Trump has a very real chance of winning.

I’d be drinking right now, but it’s office hours where I’m from.

Look, America. I get it. We elected people because their rhetoric was pretty damn compelling and we wanted to send a “fuck you” message to the administration.

But that came at the cost of compromising the integrity of bridges we had built in the past.

Hopefully, by the time this goes live, Hillary will have won or something. Because mark my words: if you let an opportunistic, xenophobic tax evader take over, then any respect the rest of the world has for you will be significantly diminished.

Do not let low EQ get the better of you right now. Do not let fear and anger win.

Remember hope. And then act on it.

For the People, of the People, by the People

When I was in High School, one of our class activities was a formal debate on whether or not my country should be a Democracy.

I was on the “no” side and, if I remember correctly, we won because we successfully argued that Filipinos do not have the right mindset for it. Too many politicians forget that they’re supposed to serve the people. Too many citizens forget that our responsibilities do not stop with the ballots. We all forget that nation-building is not in the hands of the few, but in the hands of everyone, together.

This is how I thought Democracy is supposed to go: we choose someone to speak for us, to be our voice, so we may better contribute to the improvement of society. If the elected officials fail to represent us, then they will lose all their power. If we allow concerns that do not contribute to society dominate, then Democracy will have failed.

If we treat elections as a “set it and forget it” kind of thing, then we don’t actually have a Democracy at all.

But of course, the Democracies I’ve been seeing thus far don’t seem to work the way I thought they ought. Maybe I didn’t understand it after all. Maybe it really is about choosing representatives on the basis of whatever and then letting them fuck us over.

It really doesn’t matter. I’ve given up on understanding democracy.

What about you?

 

A Sea of Public/Relationship/Political Issues

A little over a month ago (sometime in July, actually) a co-worker who is as much into geek stuff as I am and who appreciates my interest in all things geek sent me a link to John Scalzi’s post on who gets to be a geek (answer:  ANYONE can be a geek).  I found the post and its comments thread so fascinating and empowering – as a geek who’s had to deal with being part of a geeky minority, I appreciated the sentiment – that I started to follow the blog.

Issue 1:  Unabashed Sexism

Not long after that “manifesto” of sorts was posted, Scalzi addressed the ReaderCon incident in which a woman was harassed at a convention and the resulting measures (for a while, at least) were unsatisfying.

I found myself horrified.  And for a month after that, I found myself immersed in a tidal wave of blog posts and articles discussing the pervasive sexism of our times.  I read about creepers, gaslighting, rape culture, and having a rapey friend that people refuse to call out.  It didn’t help that some dipshit American politician inspired talk of “legitimate rape” over the course of that period.  And that stories like this one about a woman’s ordeal on a train comes to my attention on a fairly regular basis.

Sexism is alive and well
Because women apparently aren’t people and cannot vote so no one has to pander to them.

Mind you, this didn’t make me hate men.  I have a wonderful boyfriend, a brother whose respect for women makes me proud, and great male friends.  There are men like Scalzi who are thoroughly disturbed by the persistent belief that people are OWED interest (it goes both ways, of course, but the lack of respect is often directed at the women).  There are men like Ernest Adams who are disgusted by the dearth of decent men.  There are men who recognize the need for their contribution to reform female-unfriendly attitudes.  And I am grateful to them.

But that doesn’t make me any less angry.  So I try to focus on something else, but it backfired because…

Issue 2:  Friendship Woes

Allow me to make something clear – I have great friends.  They are awesome.  I love them and I will kill for them like the spork-wielding ninja that I am.  But the problem is that I will kill for them like the spork-wielding ninja that I am.  I’m depressingly inclined to be hyper-involved when it comes to the crises of other people.  And given some of the issues that some of my friends had to deal with lately, I’m finding it hard to avoid being angry (on top of being angry about the sexist background radiation we all have to deal with – most of my friends are female) enough to gouge some people’s eyes out.

How I see my friends
Can you blame me when this is how I feel about me and my friends?

I do try to not be so involved unless specifically asked, of course.  Especially since one of the “issues” involve a person at whom I threw an African Violet of Broken Friendship.  Rationally, I know I shouldn’t be engaging in talk about her, but it’s so deliciously cathartic.  Even the great Captain Awkward and the Awkwardeers, whose advice on everything I find helpful, couldn’t stop me from using bad words and feeling righteous indignation over the actions of an ex-friend (I don’t have many of those, by the way) who inflicts her issues on nice people as she had once inflicted them on me.

I’m far from perfect, I know.  But I also know when shit is effed up, and I simply can’t resist at least lending my moral support.  And this takes me to…

Issue 3:  Stupid Politics

I’m talking about politics in the Philippines here, although American politics worry me too because we tend to copy the Americans.  Literally.  Our senate is okay with plagiarism.  I guess the assertion wouldn’t have been so bad if they didn’t self-righteously condemn piracy as well (which I know is different, but is in my opinion within the same general spectrum – I want to cry “HYPOCRISY”).  And it doesn’t help that almost every big issue here is turned into a major circus that basically bamboozles the public into thinking that they have all the facts, when they do not.  Then nothing gets done right.

Angel vs. Silence
Much like how I always imagined this fight, politics here generally get us nowhere.  Watch Dr. Who to understand.

One of the biggest debates going on in the Philippine Senate right now involves the Reproductive Health Bill – the plagiarism issues mentioned above may be eclipsing it for now, but it’s somewhat related in that it was a Senator the Anti-RH camp that was proven to have copied (and in some cases directly translated from Filipino to English) entire chunks of text from various bloggers and great elocutionists for his speeches.  Lack of even the most basic form of originality aside, I am seriously bothered by the way the discussion of the Bill was approached.  Its supporters and opposition alike tend to resort to self-righteous grandstanding and sometimes sniping.  The local Catholic Church is trying to influence legislation by threatening Catholics who support RH with excommunication and general guilt-tripping.  The local secularists use this an excuse to call religion stupid.

It’s all stupid.  I’m so angry I don’t even know what to say anymore.  Even discounting my own stand with regards to this issue, I still find the situation infuriating.

I’m hoping that at some point I’ll stop getting angry over all this.  But I understand that this will take its sweet bloody time because I apparently find uncontrollable rage empowering.  I’m like The Hulk, except I look less like Mark Ruffalo and more like Amanda Bynes.  Or so my mother says.  Not that she knows who Mark Ruffalo or Amanda Bynes are.  She just sees them on TV and says “S/he looks exactly/nothing like you.”  My mother’s a very visual person.

Where was I?  Oh yes.  I need to get out of this angry phase soon.  Do you guys have advice?