IT'S on this day that we remember the man who coined the phrase “The Filipino is worth dying for” and actually ended up doing what he said. “Insider” conspiracy theories and whatnot aside, it takes a great deal of fortitude for any man to decisively walk a path—even one that leads to his death. We can argue political parties until we’re blue in the face, but we can’t discount the fact that Ninoy Aquino willingly came back to the Philippines fully knowing he had a target on his back.
What kind of conviction did he possess to have made that decision? Most of us can’t even muster the conviction to roll out of bed and devote an hour to exercise. Heck, I can’t muster the conviction to say no to a three-scoop milkshake at Gelatissimo even when I know it’s added flab to my stomach. Ninoy Aquino must have had unbelievable foresight to see that his long-term goals for the country would trump any short-term sacrifices he had to make. Again, we can argue endlessly about conviction that borders on fanaticism versus rational thinking, but the main question we need to ask ourselves is, “Do we have something in our lives we’d risk life and limb for?”
Many of us get lost in the rational thinking side, weighing pros and cons and whether something is really worth the sacrifice. What ends up happening is we sigh, put it off for some other day, and semiconsciously trudge back to our schools and offices looking for ways to pass the time. We get stuck in this “meh” state of living, where we’re more or less zombies walking around doing our daily routines. We end up dying to live life with some sort of semblance or meaning.
Taking risks inherently has a measure of fanaticism in it. It has to for us to have the fortitude to see our decisions through. Good or bad, at the end of the day we can all look ourselves in the mirror and say that we gave it our best college try, leaving nothing on the floor. It takes a degree of OC-ness to aim for the top of the dean’s list and swear off parties and creature comforts because you have to study and ace that finals exam. It takes a major investment of time and resources to train every day because you want to race the Ironman next year and not collapse halfway through. Everything boils down to conviction: how bad do you really want this thing?
Granted, many of the things we’re convicted to do will not carry as heavy a price as laying our lives down. But we can emulate the fortitude of Ninoy Aquino and apply it to the hard things we have to do. “Hard” is subjective and will vary from person to person, but having the fortitude to do what needs to be done is a character trait that I feel everyone should cultivate.
This way, we won’t be a people who are dying to live but are living like we’re dying, to quote Kris Allen. Yes, Kris Allen—my age is showing.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on August 21, 2017.
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