A couple of days ago, I had the chance to talk to a friend while driving to a Holy Week retreat. Being quite comfortable with one another, we caught up and talked about anything and everything, from nutrition and fitness to girls and common friends. The topic of our conversation then switched to the empty roads that we were on and our smooth drive through the city. If only the roads could be like this every day, we both wished out loud.
Though the two of us don’t have to travel along EDSA or C5 on a daily basis to get to school and back home, we know about how horrible the volume of traffic on these roads can get, especially come rush hour. We began to talk about other problems in the country today and we began to formulate a few theories on the best way to help. Several ideas were thrown around between us and some seemed feasible while others were probably too ambitious. Just like my friend and I, everyone has their own ideas of how to instill change and they are often very good ones, but how often do we actually take concrete steps to achieve them? Many of us, myself included, are guilty of just talking about our ideas and not putting it into action. How can anything change if we are all talk?
Among the many problems that the Philippines has, the congestion of Metro Manila and the city’s poor infrastructure are issues that stand out the most. Along with our country’s other perennial headaches such as corruption, these problems grow worse by the day and they continue to suck the life out of what was once called one of the continent’s finest cities. We’ve all seen the beautiful photos of Manila in the 1950s and 1960s that have been shared on social media sites and we always comment on how wonderful things were back then. It has become our first instinct to criticize the situation and blame government officials in power, yet we fail to see the bigger picture. How can one be corrupt if they do not have the opportunity to do so? Is it not true that the votes of the people decide who gets to sit in public office? Doesn’t this mean that the power to begin change is in our hands? We can definitely do more than just hypothesis on how we can help.
It has unfortunately become second nature for us to put the blame on others. We talk about how bad things are in our country yet we don’t do anything about it aside from making witty comments online or complaining while engaging in a conversation with friends. We have proved that we can identify the problems in our society and that is an important first step towards change, however, the next step is the more valuable one that remains elusive to the people.
If we don’t take concrete action and transform our ideas into deeds, we are no better than those who we criticize. As cliche as it may sound, we are the change that we want to see and the only way to solve any of the problems or issues that we complain about is by thinking of good plans and putting them into action. No matter how small our actions may seem, it still trumps sitting around and complaining. As our generation enters adulthood, we have a chance to leave a legacy in our society.
George Santayana once said that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” and it is up to us to save our country from its perennial problems. It begins with the little things such as actually voting during the elections or even just obeying traffic laws. Once we have grown and become the men and women in positions of power, we have a concrete opportunity to change our country. Whether or not we actually do something good with this opportunity when the time is ripe is up to us and the power is in our hands, but change can only begin if we turn our ideas into actions. The sooner we stand up and execute whatever plans come to mind, the sooner we can make progress towards the change that we want to see.