Today, on the way to the hospital to accommodate my father, I saw two kids (a boy and a girl) playing by the streets. What I thought was harmless playing was actually abuse. The boy started slapping the little girl by the butt, by the hair and basically her whole body — and he looked as if he was having the best time of his life. This alone appalled me because it seemed so casual to him, what he was doing. I thought it might be because he witnessed abuse at home or got abused himself. He didn’t even stop when the girl started crying out, “Huwag na, kuya!” He even found a younger boy to start slapping.
I observed the little girl and thought to myself, why isn’t she running away? Is it because to her, it’s play time? Or is she used to seeing women submit themselves to such unnecessary abuse? Children copy what they see. Is this what she normally lives with?
After a while, I couldn’t take it. I was infuriated at what I was seeing. Something inside me urged me to get out of the taxi and confront this boy. But I didn’t.
People like me write about social justice and everything we could have done. But that’s it, we write. Nothing else.
At that moment, I debated against myself. Should I dare? Would it even matter? Could I even teach that boy a lesson? Would it even change anything?
In the process of doubting myself, the street lights flashed green and I missed my chance. I became another hypocrite. I became one more “social justice” advocate who stayed behind the window.
I imagine other people going through the same dilemma. Words are so easy. Actions, not so much. When will we get enough courage to put our words into concrete action? Why do we hesitate so much to make change? It’s because we’re afraid of what might happen. We’re afraid that no matter how much we try, we won’t even make a small dent in this messed up society.
Fear holds you back. If Thomas Edison lived his life scared of the dark, he would never have created the lightbulb. If Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga was scared of being in charge such a huge project, he would never have housed millions of Filipinos and brought out the spirit of volunteerism in the youth. Fear stops people from being radical, from being a change-maker.
Fear makes one selfish. Teenagers are scared of being judged, of being ridiculed. However, you don’t hear people going about how they’re scared for other people being judged. Another case of the “if it doesn’t concern me, I don’t care” disorder the youth seems to have. We forget to put ourselves into other people’s shoes. We forget to care.
Fear conquers our soul. Staying scared your whole life will eat you up. You’ll soon be paranoid of everything, never taking a chance, never taking risks. As they say, too much of anything is bad. Why live your life being terrified when you were given this life to rise to wider horizons? YOLO.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. ~Ambrose Redmoon
Next time around, I’ll tell myself to be brave.