As the old year fades into memory and archives, and as the new year barges into our daily reality, with or without our permission, it has become customary for people to take stock of their gains and setbacks, gaze at the prospects ahead, and make New Year’s wishes and resolutions.
A person’s efforts to make her New Year’s wish come true may be as whimsical as jumping as high as possible at the strike of twelve midnight, in the hope that she may grow a few inches taller in the coming year. (We wonder if a certain President still entertains this desperate wish.)
Or the effort to make a noble wish come true may be so momentous, as when the families, friends and colleagues of missing activists continue to rage and plod on – stage protest actions, send letters of appeal, file petitions for writs of habeas corpus and writs of amparo, even try to scour military prisons and police blotters – in the hope that their loved ones may one day re-emerge from oblivion.
As an entire nation and society, we too have our collective New Year’s wishes and resolutions.
These collective aspirations may not be apparent on a daily basis, as all of us focus on the mundane business of eking out livelihoods, raising kids, getting good grades, patching up a lovers’ quarrel, coping with a disability, and generally surviving from one day to the next.
Some social scientists even fear that our sense of national identity and social responsibility has deteriorated to a point that we have finally lost it, that we are now like scattered atoms of gas, dissipating into the rest of the world as migrants and overseas workers, or consumed by local chaos and purely personal concerns, no longer caring about what happens to the Philippines as a national and social entity.
But the more perceptive among us hold on to that keen sense of patriotism and social awareness, to realize that the life of our nation – debilitated and fragmented by social ills and conflicts its body and mind might be – remains vital enough to continue its own struggle to survive, to cope, and to overcome its historical and current problems.
We do not need a prophet, a zodiac reading, or even statistically correct surveys, to see that as a nation, we all aspire to live under gradually improving (if not drastically overhauled) socio-economic conditions. We all desire that our country develop in ways that ensure jobs, sufficient incomes, better access to social services (education, health, housing) for everyone.
We all aspire to live under peaceful and orderly conditions, where the people’s basic civil liberties and democratic rights are respected, where the government imposes on its own officials that strict discipline, integrity, honesty, competence and deep sense of public accountability that our great people truly deserve, where basic political and economic reforms have been put in place and has removed the underlying basis for insurgency, counter-insurgency, and other forms of political violence.
A tall order to achieve in just one year, or even one decade.
But, cliché or no cliché, a long march of a thousand kilometers always starts with the first tentative steps. All over the islands of this beloved archipelago, a long march of patriots and social activists aspiring for basic social reforms and a better national life has in fact been going on for many decades now.
Our ultimate New Year’s wish, our determined New Year’s resolution, is for more and more of our people to join this long march, to give it a more robust shape and sustained energy, to ensure that we as a historical and collective body of people finally achieve our aspirations.
In this spirit of patriotism and hope, let us all welcome the challenges of the coming year 2008! #