I could vaguely remember now how our party campaigned for student council elections back in college. For some reason though, my social media feed has had me retrospecting the past few days.
I was eighteen.
Before I became Vice Chairperson on my third year in the university, I remember feeling awkward about the thought that I was running against one of my closest friends – who was my roommate for a year. I remember disliking how divided the campus was (and sadly our block too) during campaign period. Students wearing red would walk past those wearing blue in school corridors. When needed, one would give a casual nod or an awkward smile. These are students who would share meals at the canteen or hang-out at the dorm lobby at the end of each school day. The campaign period seemed to bring with it an invisible wall that creates a great divide.
What I dreaded the most though was all the mudslinging and black propaganda. While I was glad I was with a political party that does not advocate such, I didn’t have much peace knowing that a printed document containing information meant to mar another candidate’s reputation could well be posted on the freedom wall for everyone’s spectacle the following day. The most strength-draining meetings were always those where we had to anticipate issues and personal attacks that could be thrown at us and then having to think of what we could throw back at our opponents should the need arise. The hardest moments were when you get a hold of something that you know would certainly hurt a friend.
A day after the election, the wall would dissipate. But people would have already gotten accustomed to the divide – whether they admit it or not.
I was eighteen, and all these happened on campus – friendships severed due to attacks on each other’s integrity; a political party exhausting all means to prove that they are more worthy of office; a people-group divided where a collective decision is needed; the divide staying even after the decision has been made.
Thankfully, we all graduated without bringing with us too much campaign and election trauma.
I have come to the conclusion that I am having thoughts reminiscent of the past because what I see today is what I saw on campus – only on a much larger scale and with so much more at stake.
With the upcoming elections, I say I am at peace, for I am convinced that “there is no authority except from God.”* And so I would pray more for all the days that would come after the new set of officials are installed – that they conduct themselves worthy of the people’s trust, and that we citizens would humbly submit to and cooperate with our governing authorities.
But today, I am also reminded that the future leaders of this nation would come from the campuses our campus ministry are currently discipling. Consequently, those who are not called to public service will have the power to choose who will run our beloved Philippines.
I am hopeful that one day, by the grace of God, the generation we are raising now will be a people who are convinced that politics is not worth losing friendships over; who know that one does not have to drag someone down if only to serve the nation; who will boldly take a stand while exercising their freedom of expression in wisdom and with discretion; and who will work together to build bridges over the divide that differing opinions have created.
All these they will do knowing that while people in office are instrumental to a country’s growth and progress, it will take a discipled generation to change a nation.
* Romans 13:1