“Education is a right! Higher state subsidy! Down with imperialism!”
These are some of the calls and chants that the more socially involved and politically aligned students in my university voice out during their rallies and mobilisations. A more commonly used term to refer to them are activists. Some stronger terms include militants, or even communists.
I cannot speak for the entire student body, but I know I am not any of these.
I have attended rallies before, but only to cover them for the student publication I am part of. I was asked before why anyone would even bother to go to rallies. What difference would a bunch of people shouting and making noise outside the Supreme Court or Department of Justice make? Well, they can make a significant difference.
History has proven that the people’s collective action can force the government to change. Once they realize the power they possess and exercise it, the masses can incite change. And it doesn’t have to be violent or bloody, like the 1987 People Power Revolution.
But I refuse to align myself with them.
Before I entered this university, my parents explicitly forebode me from joining their events or befriending them. But we don’t follow everything our parents tell us, right? Because I didn’t. And I don’t regret it.
As radical and passionate as these people may be, they’re still people. Like everyone else, there are good and bad aspects of their personality. The ideologies and principles they uphold may influence them, but it does not define them completely.
Even after being exposed to them and hearing about their stands on issues, I still haven’t joined any political party or socio-civic student organization. I can think of three reasons why.
First, the idea of being a member of both the official student publication which is supposed to be an objective entity and a political party with specific ideologies and interests doesn’t sit well with me. While some previous and current members of the publication have also been part of politically-aligned student organizations, they have successfully carried out their responsibilities and obligations without bias. And while I am confident in my ability to so, our critics are not. (I mentioned the mudslinging and personal attacks launched by these critics in a previos post, which you can read here). It’s not that I’m scared of what our critics would say, it’s just that if we can prevent them from saying anything at all, why not do it?
Second, too much of anything is bad. I mean anything. These student activists often feel so strongly about every issue or event that affects the masses. They blame society’s problems on the imperialist nations or greedy capitalists. Now, while I believe that these groups or entities are responsible to a certain extent, I don’t consider them to be the only cause. I think a more multi-perspective approach should be employed in analysing these problems and coming up with solutions for them.
Third, I don’t want to be limit myself to one side of the political divide. In our university, there are two competing political parties. There’s Party A (the reds) who are radical leftists, and Party B (the blues) who are conservative leftists. At least, that’s what I heard one of their members claim to be. Friendships and even romantic relationships have been established between reds and blues. No, let me rephrase that. Friendships and even romantic relationships have been established between a very limited number of reds and blues.
Again, I believe I am open-minded enough to create and maintain friendships with people of both colors, but it would be a hell of a lot easier to do so if I maintained neutrality.
However, being neutral when it comes to my political affiliation doesn’t extend to my principles. I do believe education is a right. I believe our university, as the premier state university of the country, deserves higher state subsidy. I believe the status quo needs to be changed, but I do not believe inciting a revolution, toppling the upper class, and destroying the system should be the number one answer.
How about you? Where do you fall along the political spectrum?