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[Today] Voting is ultimately self-awareness? How?

Key Takeaway: To exercise your right to vote is in fact an act of awareness of society and ultimately of the self. While societal awareness is obvious, self-awareness is less so – but more important because it involves your dignity and empowerment as a person.


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Happy May, purposeful you!

For some, May represents spring and fertility, the Virgin Mary, or even mothers (Mother’s Day is just two days from now!).

But for us, here in the Philippines, May 2016, apart from the hellish heat thanks to El Niño, marks a very important time in our country, a time that happens only every six years: the national elections.

World history can tell us that democracy has been one of the best things to happen to humanity. A people comes together to discuss what they need and want to develop as a nation, and so they choose their own leaders whom they trust to serve the interests of the country honestly and integrally. Democratic societies have always traditionally performed better than other kinds of societies – something clearly shown during the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe (or, rather, a somewhat-extreme interpretation thereof) in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

But what happens if democracy isn’t fully appreciated? In other words, what happens if we don’t properly exercise our right – our right to vote?

The result: Opportunistic, greedy, or power-hungry politicians can easily sway the hearts and minds of the people with their courtship-worthy words that may unfortunately lead to empty promises or results different from what the people hoped for.

Most unwitting victims are those who either have not fully studied or analyzed the platforms or backgrounds of their candidates, or those who easily fall into the trap of vote-buying, which is essentially bribery (usually, and understandably, the poor). They are easily taken advantage of by the powers-that-be (or, rather, the powers-to-be) and can be easily won over to vote for someone who at first seems to be charismatic, charming, and a changemaker – but who turns out to be otherwise.

The root cause is a lack of awareness in two aspects – awareness of society and ultimately awareness of self.

To be aware of society is to be a good citizen – and, in this case, to be a good citizen is to play your part in choosing your leaders – your leaders who will govern over you. One who doesn’t exercise their right to vote, in spite of being fully qualified to do so, doesn’t have the right (pun intended) to complain about the elected. And to properly exercise their right to vote doesn’t simply mean casting it, it also extends to knowing their candidates well: studying what they’ve done, what they’re doing, what they plan to do.

Of course, experience isn’t the whole story; you can be either very experienced but corrupt or simply a jerk, or you can be relatively inexperienced but brilliant. So in order to reflect on who you believe ought to win, you need to examine your values and your principles – and weigh them against each candidate as well as what it will imply for the whole country.

Which leads to self-awareness.

What do you stand for? Who do you think can deliver it best? But, more importantly, will your choice be an investment in not just your future, but that of others as well (whether or not you know them)? Or will it be a selfish choice just to promote your own personal agenda, however integral (or not) it may be?

Will your choice lead to better progress in nation-building, with your Chosen Ones able to continue the legacy of a great predecessor or start anew from a terrible one’s? Or will it result the opposite?

Furthermore, self-awareness also means recognizing that you have innate human dignity – a dignity that no one can replace or remove. You are more than someone screaming for dole-outs, someone who can be easily swayed. You are someone who has power – power to put someone in a position of power and service.

Whether or not you think you are but just one tiny prick in the middle of the sea, your vote counts. Every vote counts. Your vote counts not just because of your right to do so, but also because you will be able to live with the fact that you exercised your power, no regrets. Even if your chosen candidate didn’t win, you know that, at least, you chose them. And that makes all the difference for you and for others.

So, before Monday rolls around, we at The Daily You urge all Filipinos to sit back, relax (relaxing helps the brain!), and think very thoroughly over who they intend to put into office, who will serve the nation for the next several years. Before the pen strikes the ballot, think twice – thrice if needed. Should they win? Do they deserve it? Can they serve us, the people of their homeland?

Para sa Diyos, sa tao, sa kalikasan, at sa bansa!

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