Editorial: Cry for Mandela, weep for us

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Friday, December 6, 2013

THE social networks are busy sharing their views, comments, and quotes of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela. Some take the effort to know his real name in an apparent show of familiarity, a few sharing their Nelson Mandela moments.

"Let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived—a man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice," US President Barack Obama wrote.

Mandela is indeed the kind of leader who has inspired millions through the generations when he had grabbed the world’s attention for consistently standing up against apartheid system of racial segregation and discrimination in South Africa and inspiring more to live by their principles.

Imprisoned for 27 years and only released in 1990, he continued to negotiate with South Africa’s white leaders to establish a democracy. He later became its first black president.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others," is one of Mandela’s most remembered quotations.

He is remembered for the strength of his conviction, his dignity, but most of all his humility.

Amid all these remembrances we stare at our reality.

The way our government had failed to live up to the expectations of its people when it stumbled and bumbled and made one mistake after the other in responding to the devastation typhoon Yolanda caused.

Then we entertain ourselves with the insults exchanged by two senators.

Of course, we still haven’t forgotten the shelved concern – that of Janet Napoles and her rise to wealthy and infamy through the siphoning off of government money made available to her by our lawmakers.

We cry because one of the world’s iconic leaders have finally left us. But we weep because our leaders are nowhere like him whether it be in strength of conviction as we look at a very crooked road when we were promised a “daang matuwid;” in dignity, while we remember the laughing fits we had while listening to Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago in her privilege speech, and; in humility, as we recall how a police chief was sacked all because he estimated that at least 10,000 could have died because of typhoon Yolanda, and after that, the counting of the dead have been swept aside as a non-issue. We weep because amid the consternation about the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) freezing of a portion of boxer Manny Pacquiao’s bank accounts, a congressman proposes that Pacquiao be exempted from tax throughout his life.

As we write this, we read that former Batangas representative Antonio Leviste, convicted for killing his long-time aide and friend Rafael delas Alas in 2009 and caught walking in and out of the New Bilibid Prison while serving his six to 12 years imprisonment sentence, was granted parole after four years in jail.

Nay, let us not just weep. Let us wail.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on December 07, 2013.


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