[OPINION] Activism is not a waste of time

'Yes, the road to freedom will be filled with inconveniences and sacrifices, but the rewards that lie ahead are still worth fighting for'

Activism has become a very popular word these past few months. Left and right,
people protest and rally in relation to politics, the environment, rights, freedoms, etc. Name a topic and there is probably a rally somewhere about it.

While there are those that view activism as youth empowerment, social change, or the voice of the people, others have come to see it as a waste and a sign of rebellion.

But love it or hate it, one can never deny that activism can bring about a large degree of change.

When the Filipino people were tired of Martial Law, they resorted to activism. People rallied, and we now know this as the People Power Movement or the 1st EDSA Revolution. From these names alone, one can already see that activism is not just a gathering of many people believing in the same idea, but rather a show of power by the people. We alone have that power. (READ: A nun in the revolution: Remembering, forgetting EDSA)

Unfortunately, a quick scroll through the comments section of news articles on social media can easily show us that some think activism leads to nothing. Some have even gone as far as to claim that activism is aimed at destabilizing the country. Others point out the economic inconveniences, among others, that come with regular protests.

But even if I myself am detached from activism, it is really a headscratching moment every time someone brings about these criticisms. It has made me realize that people would rather think of the short-term rather than the long-term. Yes, the road to freedom will be filled with inconveniences and sacrifices, but the rewards that lie ahead are still worth fighting for.

Amid all the change that activism has brought about, much controversy still surrounds it. With issues such as red-tagging, activists have not been safe here in the Philippines. Youth leaders are targeted by both vigilantes and government forces alike. When they are killed, it is done shadily. When they are arrested, it is done for questionable reasons. (READ: Human Rights Watch expresses ‘deep concern’ over red-tagging in Cagayan de Oro)

Instead of being a reason for prosecution, activism should be a right. It is a right – one we’ve long denied for fear of being criticized for going against the status quo. People should be allowed to voice what they think, of regardless of what others think. There should not be an air of fear around the idea of being active on social issues. Rather, people should be admired for how they take action on social issues. (READ: Ibon Foundation: Duterte gov’t ‘red-tagging’ meant to silence dissent)

Regardless of people’s opinions on activism, governments should always listen to the pleas of the many rather than prioritizing the indulgences of their few. It is the government’s duty to make sure that everyone matters, and that no one feels powerless or useless under their leadership. In the end, it is the people who put government officials in power, so it is the people that the government must listen to.

Whatever happens in the months to come, one thing is clear: activism will always be around to incite change. – Rappler.com

Dustin Albert Sy is a Grade 12 ABM student studying in De La Salle University-Manila, with plans to enroll under Bachelor in Secondary Education-Major in Mathematics in the same university. He aspires to become a high school teacher in Mathematics.