[EDITORIAL] #AnimatED: Christmas in a sea of sadness

Imagine what it’s like tonight to be at the dining table of the Batocabe family in the once-sleepy town of Daraga. 

In the picturesque town of Kadingilan in Bukidnon, how does Christmas feel in the home of former mayor Joelito Talaid, who, like Rodel Batocabe, was shot dead two days ago? 

Wherever they are and whatever their shortcomings, think of what Christmas means today to the family of the dismissed Ateneo high school student, who pummeled a hapless schoolmate in the bathroom as a phone camera recorded it.

And if you watched the news Friday night, will today’s merry-making help erase from your head the gory images of dumped bodies in Occidental Mindoro and Daraga that residents discovered over the weekend?

It’s almost a cliché to say it, in this land cursed with blood and pain, but Christmas can prove meaningless to a lot of Filipinos.

The back-to-back headlines that gripped this nation in the last few days jolted us to our everyday reality that no sumptuous noche buena could mask: that we could be so appalled by the acts of a child bully in an elite school but be forgiving of the daily bullying we get – whether from the foul language of our leader, or the trigger-happy hands of our policemen, or the bribes we’re forced to pay to keep our businesses or maintain our peace.

The gunmen who blasted their way through a gift-giving event for senior citizens in Daraga live in the same environment and breathe the same air as the Grade 9 student who taekwondoed his way to notoriety. 

It’s an environment that has grown comfortable with violence, with a nation that would rather not question when it doesn’t hit home.

And why would that surprise us? 

The evil unleashed from the highest echelons of power  – through kill orders, misogynistic language, blasphemy, terror – emboldens not only the men who have access to guns, but also the boys who are unfortunate enough to be growing up under bad role models.

The lies that we tolerate and the shortcuts that we justify embolden not only the men and women who spread and do this, but also a society that profits from these acts.

To not accept this as the foundation that fuels these senseless acts of violence in our midst is to continue this pretense that will cost us our future, and that of our children’s.

On this Christmas Eve, we wish everyone clarity of thought to realize our contradictions, our duplicity, nay, our hypocrisy; the fortitude to rise above them; and the collective will to defeat the violence and indifference that threaten to suffocate us all.

May we all have a season for reflection, the kind that will remind us of our humanity, and our responsibility to demand it not only of ourselves but also of those who wield power and influence over us. – Rappler.com