EVER since we first tasted the “fruits of democracy”, Filipinos have always waged the call for responsible government from all walks of life with zest, vigor and rhetorical eloquence. And as such, being part of the body politic avidly seeking for government reforms, it should likewise follow that we should give serious consideration in making the call for responsible citizenship as our continuing and collective mantra. But as good as this concept is in paper, could this really be a conceivable reality in our country today?
A responsible citizenry should complement responsible government, and conversely, a responsible government should complement a responsible citizenry. The issue or the question of which should come first should be dismissed as purely academic, for a responsible government and a responsible citizenry should go hand-in-hand with one another.
Do you remember the famous inaugural speech of U.S. President John F. Kennedy on Jan. 20, 1961, when he uttered the challenge, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country?” Its simple meaning was to challenge society to contribute to improve the public good. But I think there’s a bigger message here, and that is that we have to work together as a society to improve our collective state. And because of that, the statement has a lot to tell us about community building in general and for responsible citizenship. If we have the guts to criticize our government, then we too should have the same audacity to WALK OUR TALK and do something for the common good of all Filipinos.
Our concept of a responsible government is clear … it is a government capable of providing the basic services to the people, a government which abides by the principles of national pride and sovereignty and most of all; it is a regime of public officials whose primary goal is honest service, and not graft and corruption. On the other hand, responsible citizenship is “being vigilant in exercising vigilance”; it is our ongoing thrust to assess government policies. It is our readiness to lambaste our government for its unacceptable inefficiencies and so-called biases for the “few political elites”.
But over and above all the verbal jousts to which we tend to criticize one another in sometimes demeaning and forceful language. Responsible citizenship roots itself in transformative action though active community involvement in local governance. Yes, we may appallingly admonish the government for its failure to provide people with basic services through catchy slogan (words specially when spoken forcefully can be effective propaganda devices, capable of stirring people’s latent emotions) but at the same time, they also breed hate, misunderstanding and strife within the state.
Responsible citizenship is not rooted in passivity or in violence. It is a product of maturity, diplomacy and mutual respect. It is to acknowledge another person’s right in the context of our own … in other words; it is safeguarding the common good. Creating collaborative synergy among the state and its constituency brings the full realization of this ideological framework. Because we have entrusted to our government leaders not just our trust and confidence but our welfare as well as citizens of this country when we elected them to public office, we deserve to make them liable for whatever debacles they have done in the discharge of their office. They have to clean up their own mess, and be properly dealt with according to the laws of the land. They should honorably face their own mistakes, and allow the people to seek justice for the abuse they have inflicted upon the well-being of the country.
Our government has the Herculean task of governing millions Filipinos, and realistically speaking, it cannot possibly do the job alone. Therefore, we the citizens as the ultimate “check & balance” machinery of our country should at least minimize plausible rhetoric. Instead, we should all put our words into ACTIONS ... ACTIONS that internalize love, respect, equality and freedom. Let charity serve as the golden chain that binds our hearts to the heart of God. Let us coordinate all our efforts to strengthen the bonds of nationalism. Only when we imbue our hearts with sincere love can we realize the vision of a world-class country with world-class citizens. Let us stop thinking of our government as our adversary, instead, let us see in their suffering faces the image of Christ so that unity will reign; horrible crimes and lawlessness will diminish and that all of us may walk in the path laid for us by the Lord. This is our commitment … this is our journey.
May Christian love bind us so that we can faithfully respond to it. Time, no matter how infinite we may perceive it to be, has in reality, an ultimate end. Therefore, we should not tarry any longer. WE MUST ACT NOW! Each and every one of us is responsible for our beloved motherland. You and I have a big challenge to face. The big question is CAN WE? … WILL WE? ………. WE CAN … and … WE WILL.
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