Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Random Thoughts on the Obama Inauguration

• For all the unflattering things that can be said about America, one cannot help but be amazed at the demonstrated ability of its democracy to seemingly right itself towards a better direction. It may be too early to tell, and certainly the expectations on Obama could be overwhelmingly unrealistic… but given the US' place in the world, and after 8 years of ineptitude and corruption, there is reason to hope.

• This is not a mere transition, but a break (or at least an attempt to break) with those 8 years, made possible by the peaceful exercise of democratic processes. That is what we need in the Philippines which requires first and foremost, a trust in the system… in the Constitution… by all Filipinos - as individuals and as a nation.

• This trust does not even necessarily have anything to do with transparency and accountability (we don't really think that Bush and Cheney will eventually be held accountable for their tragic and possibly deliberate missteps). Rather, it is a trust that by exercising the right to vote (and reasonably expecting that your vote will be counted), whatever mistakes of the past can be set aside, and the country can grow, build and move forward from that point on. Can we make a similar break and feel that hope in 2010?

• “This is America happening,” was a quote from one of the people who came to view the inauguration, and somehow, you knew what she meant. "This is the Philippines happening," presently does not evoke the same sense of pride, wonder and possibility.

• EDSA 1 was the Philippines happening: people from all walks of life coming together peacefully - deliberately, consciously, proudly peacefully. We came as individuals with a sense of purpose, a sense of nationhood, and a sense of our responsibility to our co-Filipinos. There has been no event that has engendered that sense since.

• But of course, events like those come only once in several blue moons. That is why history is important... because history, through the examples of the past, helps to remind us of what is possible in the future.

• The power of words and images is remarkable and undeniable. Beyond meaning, there is, therefore, power in art and literature and music and culture.

• The power of the individual to engender hope and change is similarly undeniable. More so the power of the individual (and the organization) who is able use words and images and technology to harness the collective power of all other individuals.

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