A matter of politics

This afternoon in AKSIS, an important question was raised.

“Sir, what if – and I mean a big IF – next school year isn’t normal?”

What did he mean not normal? Knock on wood please.

“What if there is a failure of elections, a coup-d’etat, or even martial law? What does AKSIS do? Will we rally?” And he went on to recite a litany of politically charged acts that won’t look out of place in your standard state university.

AKSIS is about to enter its fourth year, and thus far we’ve never really had a discussion about the organization’s politics. We never really had to, and no crisis has precipitated that divided the club into two and forced us to do some soul-searching. Because in my mind, the club was never meant to be a political organization and in no way have I encouraged us to tilt one way or another.

We’ve had left-leaning members who have gone on to do really constructive advocacy work for us. And thanks to those who prefer to color within the lines, we now have established practices and bylaws that will ensure that the club exists and survives. However, we haven’t attended political rallies, but neither have we towed the administration’s line. Our members are passionate about social justice and student awareness, yet we exhaust all avenues within the system to get things done (and we have).

What AKSIS has done so well is to bring people together, regardless of political affiliation or religious creed. It would be counterproductive, for example, to come up with a ‘unified’ stand about the RH Bill if it will only create factions and split the members apart. Instead, we admit that we will all have our differences. If we are to serve the entire PSHS community, it would be wise to instead focus on our common purpose. Let us return to our objective in AKSIS – to promote, develop, and inspire social consciousness and action in the Philippine Science High School.

We are not here to tell people what to think, but to empower them to do so. In speaking about the RH Bill, for example, we can discuss what makes it so divisive and suggest an analysis of what each side got right and got wrong. We can then sponsor a forum or even hold an exhibition debate. If through our work someone is inspired to learn more about the issue – whether it be from a priest or a reproductive health doctor – and then perhaps writes an appeal to their congressman or even joins an activist rally, then our job is done. For we are not here to enact policy or to bang the gavel for one side or another; we are here to empower people and bring them together.

I suppose the word for us then is non-partisan. We are not apolitical for there is no such thing; we aren’t insulated from politics and pragmatism (if you can call what we do as such) is in itself a political stance.

But of course, there will be moments when we will undoubtedly stand unified. There are moments of tragedy such as Ondoy that will need our charity, and there are moments that require righteous indignation such as the massacre in Maguindanao. At those times, there will be no doubt of where we will be and what we will be doing.

Hence what will AKSIS do when next year isn’t ‘normal’?

I can’t imagine a scenario where our freedom is threatened with extinction and yet AKSIS stands idly by. I hope we’re not thrust into a position where we will have to answer that question, though I have grown confident in our ability to stand us one.

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