Let tanks be beaten into tractors

About three years ago, I posted this because it struck a cord as the first African American U.S. President was inaugurated. I reprise it for three reasons:

(1) as the 2012 U.S. Presidential election nears, let us not be manipulated to forgive the backwardness of the modern Republican party,

(2) as we can only watch from afar the unrest in the Middle East, may those readers of mine in the region be reminded that they inspire us all by their activism and selflessness, and

(3) with positive news of Philippine economic growth dominating the broad sheets at home, may Filipinos at home and abroad optimize this moment to beat tanks into tractors, indeed, both by defeating the forces of political obstructionism and righting the backward thinking of old oligarchs.

Photo: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/not_in_website/syndication/monitoring/media_reports/2341811.stm

***** Originally posted January 23, 2009 *****

“Let tanks be beaten into tractors” — paraphrased words of Rev. Joseph Lowery as he closed, with a light-hearted prayer, the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009.

These are words, which, despite their simplicity, articulate a profound message that is applicable to many places across the modern world, including the Philippines: Choose collaboration over acrimony, honest pragmatism over worn-out dogma, development over discord. In a period of deep turmoil and worsening finances, this message is not hollow; and it is neither lofty, nor naive. It is healing. It is necessary. It is transformative.

‘Do-nothing’ politics destroys. ‘Do-nothing’ politics is the useless tank in Philippine society. It is what is childish and irresponsible; it is neglectful, and it is what has driven the once ‘Pearl of the Orient’ into a country whose citizens dream to flee.  It is time to dispose of the Filipino ‘trapos’ that are responsible; and we can’t delay for these ‘trapos’ number many.

Big man politics? Out. Low expectations? Out. Lack of personal accountability? Out. Now is the season for major social and political Spring cleaning, of sorts. Out with the old, in with the new and more useful.

This period in history demands better things, higher expectations. Why shouldn’t Filipinos expect a home-grown leader from the same mold as Barack Obama? Why shouldn’t we strive to be better versions of ourselves?

As Obama said about those who are cynical of the potential of this moment in history, the ground has, indeed, shifted beneath them. Also in the words of Obama, this is the time to shed “the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long” and to ask “not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage … a retirement that is dignified.” This is the time to dispose of the foes of real community and national progress: ‘do-nothing’ politics and its dispensable ‘trapos.’


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