By Carolina S. Ruiz Austria

The word "Heresy"

was used by Irenaeus in Contra Haereses to discredit his opponents in the early Christian Church. It has no purely objective meaning without an authoritative system of dogma.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Elections 2007: A Contest of Meanings

Reducing the whole concept of "democracy" to the (often futile) electoral exercise that is "the VOTE," is perhaps the one of the most tragic things in history.

The reality is, what makes "voting" meaningful is anchored on so much more than the actual getting your thumb inked, your fingernails dirty and pretending to care as you fill out the ballot with what you think are "the lesser evil" of the very short list of actually qualified candidates you actually give a toss about!

Really. Isn't it (the exercise) anchored on the concept of participation and decision-making? But when you know that elections in the last twenty or so years after that now vague memory of the EDSA People Power uprising (not the texting revolt ala GSM) has not in any likelihood ever been honest, why bother? Why care even?

Now that politically paid ads have actually began flooding the local airwaves, I suppose my desire to tune out completely (by not watching the local channels until this crap is over) is one shared by millions of other Filipino who have simply gotten sick of Philippine politics.

For a lot of social activists, doing information campaigns during the election period has meant dealing with an erstwhile stupefied electorate. In a brave attempt to challenge the traditional way the game of politics is played, activists have in the past, engaged in Voter's Education classes, fora and even distributed materials on various issues.

Interestingly enough, the strategy of tapping "grassroots participation," and networking at the community level (barrios, sitios, barangays) is something both social activists from the church and the rest of secular (for lack of a better term) NGOs and cause oriented groups have gained expertise on.

While in the past, social movements (more or less) broadly united on (what were) basic human rights and political issues (anti-dictatorship, anti-political repression), it will be interesting to see how this time, even with marked differences within and among social movements, such campaigns will be carried on.

For one, a Catholic Church hierarchy which has been "vocal" (others will argue, not enough) about the current administrations' "shortcomings," has also turned out to be the administration's most ardent supporter on its restrictive policies on modern family planning and anti "Reproductive Health" stance.

Yet as with other massive institutions, (no matter how long-standing and influential) it wouldn't be accurate to speak of the Catholic church, or even the hierarchy as a totally monolithic or united one, as far as many of these issues are concerned. To be sure, bishops are bickering just as feminists and social activists are arguing among themselves.

Issues like "condom use" have been one among many where various members of the Catholic hierarchy have stood by different positions.

Yet many of these differences are hardly ever deliberated on by the average voter, let alone the average politician. Unfortunately, capturing nuances has never been a strong card of media. After all, for a media system and industry which thrives on ad placements (whether political or commercial), content hardly ever matters anymore. In the end what matters is an "image."

In a recent Robin Williams film (Man of the Year), where the comic plays a John Stewart-like comic on TV and ends up running for President (of the US), when an employee of the computer software company that was contracted to do the election count found a glitch that ended in erroneous poll results, the company lawyer (Jeff Goldblum) tells her off: "The appearance of legitimacy is more important than legitimacy itself."

And perhaps one good example of "the sign of the times" is the Ad by one Senator hopeful where women celebrities speak about Women's Status, Respect for Women and also Violence Against Women. For its first two weeks, the ad was run with a notice announcing the support/backing or a known national women's organization, GABRIELA. Two weeks later, the same ad played, this time announcing not only a different organization, but rather a Catholic organization, the Couples for Christ, which has been among the leading Catholic organizations campaigning against women's health agendas inclusive of modern family planning, post abortion care and adolescent reproductive health!


Post a Comment

<< Home